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When I looked into the distant past…

Universe - Timeline

Universe - Timeline (Image courtesy - Wikipedia)


 
The Universe has always fascinated me. Doesn’t matter what level of understanding you have, Cosmology will always blow your mind. Have you ever wondered that when you look up to the stars, you are actually looking into the past?

  • When  you look at the moon, you are looking a little more than a second into the past.
  • When you look at the sun, you are looking a little more than 8 minutes into the past.
  • When you look at the pole star, you are looking about 430 years into the past.
  • The list goes on. There are stars, galaxies, galaxy clusters which could be your window to the past ranging from a few years to billions of years!

You could actually go on into the past until about a few hundred million years after the Big Bang (I wouldn’t get into the technicalities of why we can’t see beyond). We don’t even know if some of these exist as of today when we are looking at them.
 

With naked eyes you can only see up to a certain limit. Telescopes can push you into the realms ranging from a few  seconds to a few billion years into the past. I always wanted to push beyond what I could see with naked eyes. I started with a pair of astronomical binoculars. Little did I know that just a small magnification can help you improve the visibility into the past drastically.
 

I wanted to push this further. And luckily I got this opportunity a few weeks ago. I came across a large enough telescope and a very knowledgeable and generous guide, Kiran. When you look through a telescope, you  don’t get to see the planets, stars and galaxies like those glossy high resolution images. You need to use your imagination to understand what you see.

 
When I first saw Saturn with its rings clearly demarcated, I somehow felt a personal connect. There was a feeling of possessiveness. After all I was not looking at an image. I was directly looking through the air. The galaxies looked like sugar sprinkled on paper. A few galaxy clusters again looked like salt sprinkled on paper. And when I paid a little more attention, I could make out that they were concentrated towards the center. I thought, could there be a black hole at the center? To my delight, Kiran confirmed that there is a black hole at the center indeed! It was like attaining nirvana! Can you imagine? I was staring at a black hole. Wow!
 
And it was not over yet. It turned out to be a lucky night for stargazing. The lazy city of Mysore provided an amazing backdrop for an exciting starry night. I saw a white dwarf! Yes, a dying star!! It had exhausted its fuel and had blown into a giant white shell, with a black dot, which was the core.
 
I stopped for a moment to think that I am looking at something which happened millions of years ago. When humans still hadn’t evolved. Probably when dinosaurs  walked the Earth. Or maybe beyond that. I wanted to push back further. But alas! You can’t get into the billions. You probably need to get over the Earth’s atmosphere to look back to that scale. That is what the Hubble has been doing.
 
But I was more than satisfied with what I saw. I saw the child inside me waking up. I would never forget that night.
 
Some day, I wish to push the limits and get closer to the big bang by looking through one of the giant telescope arrays.
 

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Trekking in Uttaranchal

I was looking to explore Uttranchal for a while. And I stumbled across Thrillophilia. An adventure travel company run my my college mates! Wonderful, isn’t it? And I readily got some tips. Sharing with everyone who intend to explore Uttranchal and have some fun and adventure:
Uttaranchal is heaven for those who want to experience trekking and adventure sports. The routes to trail and trek on are a plenty to choose from, ranging from easy to tough. Trekking in Uttaranchal helps you to discover the potential of the place and to embark on lesser travelled routes as well. One […] Continue Reading…

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To the Standard Chartered Bank…

Dear Standard Chartered Bank,

You offered me a shining Manhattan Credit Card almost 7 years ago when I was in Bangalore. I was a kid out of my college who was fascinated by plastic money and loved to get them swiped once in a while. Then came Citibank where I had my corporate salary account. I got a complimentary credit card which offered 5 times the limit you offered. But I was a kid. At that time having 2 credit cards in my wallet made me feel even better. Yours was a silver card. And Citibank gave a gold card. […] Continue Reading…

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Readability

 

“Simplicity is the best policy”. I had read it as a kid. Little did I know what does it exactly mean. As I grew up, I still didn’t appreciate this. However esp. in the last few years when technology has infested our lives, I am beginning to realize how cluttered and complicated everything is.

My average reading span for an article on the web had reduced to a few seconds. I had trouble reading beyond the article headline.
3 years ago, I could watch a complete video on TED (which was usually less than 20 minutes. No more. I hardly have […] Continue Reading…

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Writer’s block!

I had heard about the writer’s block. Didn’t exactly know what it was. But once I started blogging I could make out. I thought that the block is due to shortage of ideas. One does not know what to write. May be doesn’t have enough in mind to express.

But it is exactly the opposite I guess. Everyday I can think of so many articles to write. But I am not able to do so. Getting time is of course an issue. But more than that it is the block. I just can’t start.

And now, this is seeping into my […] Continue Reading…

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