When Prof Jayant Narlikar saw the sun rise in the west

It was exactly five decades ago when world renowned astrophysicist Prof Jayant Narlikar,at the age of 25,saw the sun rise in the west while travelling on a jet plane.

Written by Baninder Rahi | Chandigarh | Published:April 6, 2013 2:31 am

It was exactly five decades ago when world renowned astrophysicist Prof Jayant Narlikar,at the age of 25,saw the sun rise in the west while travelling on a jet plane.

Prof Narlikar saw this strange phenomenon while he was travelling from London to Chicago on December 14,1963,by a jet plane. “It was around dusk when my companion and I noticed the position of sun closer to the west horizon,and the sun was going up,” he said.

Amazed,Prof Narlikar and his companion,also an astronomer,started discussing how and why it happened.

Explaining the science behind it to the jam-packed auditorium at the Panjab University,he said “we all know that sun rises in the east and sets in the west,and earth spins on its axis from west to east”. “But on that day my jet plan was at 60 degree latitude near Greenland and the plane exceeded the speed of rotation of the earth on its axis so the sun was found moving from west towards east,” he said.

According to Prof Narlikar,the circumference of earth at equator is 40,000 km and by dividing it with 24 hours (earth completes its rotation in a day),it comes out to 1,667 km. This reverse phenomenon happened at 60 degrees latitude because their jet plane managed a speed of 833.5 km which is half of circumference of the earth.

Delivering a plenary lecture on “strange events in our solar system” on the 150th birth anniversary of Prof Ruchi Ram Sahni at the Panjab University on Friday,Prof Narlikar also told the audience why the sky looked blue and red colour was used in traffic lights to signal to vehicles to stop.

“We have seven colours — violet,indigo,blue,green,yellow,orange and red (VIBGYOR). Our atmosphere has a number of particles and when light falls on them,it gets scattered. With blue colour having less wavelength and more scattering qualities,it scatters and makes the sky blue. While red colour has opposite qualities than blue so traffic lights are of this colour,” he said.

Lastly,he informed the gathering that maybe in 2126,Comet Swift-Tuttle scare would hit the earth and finish the planet,or both earth and this comet would pass closer by. “Scientists are studying about this future phenomenon,” he said.

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