From preventing collision of the earth with celestial objects to generating energy,eminent scientist Dr Jayant Naralikar cited various applications of astronomy in his talk on ‘why to study astronomy’ on Saturday.
Speaking about the use of astronomy in saving the earth from colliding objects,he cited the example of a theory put up by a scientist in 1994 that a comet will collide with earth about 125 years after 19 th century. “Although the calculations behind this theory based on gravity were correct,this event can be averted by using non-gravitational forces like friction,” Naralikar said.
Explaining further he said that such events can be foreseen a couple of years in advance and we can avert the collision. “One of the ways is to send a spacecraft near this comet and blow it up when it is at a certain distance from the comet. This will change the comet’s direction,thus averting the collision. It is,however,dangerous to blow up the comet itself as its pieces are likely to collide with earth,which can also result in huge damage,” he said.
Scientists are working on a new project called ‘Sky Watch’ where all the celestial objects coming towards earth are being observed and their trajectories are being calculated.
Ruling out the myth that a collision between earth and a comet will affect only those who are near the collision point,Naralikar said,even those who are far from this point would also die as all the oxygen on earth will be used by the combustion resulting out of this collision. “Astronomy can thus help in saving our lives,” he said.
Naralikar also talked about a technology based on the sun’s energy generation which could be used to eradicate energy crisis. “A fusion reactor or a nuclear reactor with a technology that can convert hydrogen to helium,just as it happens within the sun will generate energy,” he said. He added that efforts on this line are on and the technology will hopefully be in place within two or three decades.
The talk was organised by Maharashtra Andhashradhha Nirmulan Samiti. Narendra Dabholkar of MANS,Pune University Vice Chancellor Narendra Jadhav and Director of IUCAA Naresh Dadhich were also present.