Wild wide universe

OUTER SPACE is as violent as the earth! Accidents and collisions are happening all the time by the comets, meteors, and other space objects. And, when these collide with our planet, they could be devastating.

For hundreds of years, man has feared attacks from beings of other planets and the prospect of some gigantic object crashing into our atmosphere endangering life. The dinosaurs, which ruled the planet, are said to have vapourised into thin air after a giant meteorite or a comet hit the earth.

The Chicxulab crater in Mexico, Lonar lake in Maharashtra, the fireworks in Siberia in 1908 known as the Tunguska event, meteorite fall in Piplian Kalan, a village in Rajasthan, are all examples of the objects from the limitless universe falling into the earth.

These matters and more were quite exhilaratingly presented in the Birla Planetarium's new sky show - `The Violent Universe', which has been inaugurated on Saturday with the Union Minister of State for Home, Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, attending.

With a depiction of the city's night sky, the viewers are transported to the outerspace beyond the solar system. The planets and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter from where huge chunks of rocks sometimes hurtle towards the earth are shown. The `Oort cloud' beyond the orbit of Pluto from where the comets originate which, too, at times crash into our planet is projected dramatically.

As the planetarium Director, Dr. B.G. Sidharth, explains, the universe is a strange place as the collisions and explosions that destroy and kill can also create and give birth to new celestial objects and perhaps, even life! Astronomers also believe the comets collision with earth to be responsible for the origin of life.

But, what happens when a giant rock debris comes in direct conflict with earth? Can we ward off the danger with our nuclear weapons as shown in Hollywood flicks? A round-the-clock monitoring service is on in the United States to look for signals from outer space and also to watch out for such probable catastrophic collisions.

Certainly, a new treat for the star gazers at the planetarium.

By V. Geetanath