SCIENCE TRIBUNE Thursday, April 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India

Vedic astrology in universities!
Yash Pal
would not have believed it. The UGC has actually accepted that the study of time is best done through Vedic astrology. Atomic clocks, biological clocks, carbon, uranium or potassium dating were never invented. Copernicus, Newton and Einstein never happened. In any case not being Vedic they are not as holy or valid as Vedic astrology.

Unmanned aerial vehicles for cities
cientists of the Aerospace Engineering Department, Auburn University, USA, have developed a new generation of Unmanned Air Vehicles which can help monitor disaster-struck cities and towns, especially in a post-earthquake situation to provide an on-the-spot status on the magnitude of destruction.

Infantry Weapon Effect Simulating System
Vijay Mohan
rouched behind shrubs and rocks during battle drill training, a raw army recruit trains his rifle at a target — another recruit stationed some distance away — and fires a blank shot.


  • Propellers from computers
  • Raw treatment for eggs




Vedic astrology in universities!
Yash Pal

I would not have believed it. The UGC has actually accepted that the study of time is best done through Vedic astrology. Atomic clocks, biological clocks, carbon, uranium or potassium dating were never invented. Copernicus, Newton and Einstein never happened. In any case not being Vedic they are not as holy or valid as Vedic astrology. If you want to know the age of the earth or the universe itself all you need to do is to consult the appropriate places in texts of Vedic astrology. After all, that is also a science. If in America some people demand equal time for the Biblical theory of Creation done in seven days, why can we not go to our own cultural past and resurrect our own science of Vedic astrology?

Now it will be possible for us to predict earthquakes more accurately than geophysicists, the weather and climate with greater accuracy without the need of ground based and satellite observations or mathematical models. All uncertainties would be wiped out by going back to our traditional wisdom of astrology. Even the mathematics we use will come from the Vedas. Why just this much only? We will be able to tell whether we are going to be mugged by a ruffian, lose money on the stock market, win an election, become a minister, or marry a millionaire. All this because we will finally have an accurate insight into the nature of time and its interaction with us. Yes, astrology was done in many cultures and is still a popular amusement amongst the masses in many countries. But then, is that Vedic astrology? There are some that say that Indian astronomy stopped progressing even in the days of Jai Singh because the main motivation shifted to making of horoscopes. On the other hand it was a magnificent time when beautiful structures like the Jantar mantar were primarily dedicated to human purpose, to give solace to our rulers and jagirdars and not for esoteric things of the kind in which Galileo dabbled.

From the UGC guidelines for setting up of Departments of Vedic Astrology:


“Vedic Astrology is not only one of the main subjects of our traditional and classical knowledge but this is the discipline which lets us know the events happening in human life and in the universe on time scale.

The distinguishing feature of the subject is that it makes us familiar with time, its nature & feature and its effects on human life and other events and that way it helps to manage and make optimal use of time.

It is a common feature that despite best methods adopted for estimation the events happen in a different way and add to worries, tensions and frustration in life. Here Vedic Astrology can help to see the unforeseen, being the subject dealing with the time.

Starting of the courses in Vedic Astrology in the universities will not only impart the knowledge of this subject to the people but will also add a new dimension for research in the fields of Hindu-Mathematics, Vastushastra, Meteorological Studies, Agriculture Science, Space Science, etc.”

Under the Title of Courses and Duration it is mentioned that they will be graduate, post-graduate and Ph.D. level. There would also be certificate courses of one-year duration and Diploma courses of two year duration. Doctors, Architects etc. would be able to take those courses.

It is suggested that doctors, architects and many other professionals will gain through the study of Vedic astrology. Some of them might not be able to spare the time to get a Ph.D. in this field but uncertainties about diagnosis and treatment of disease would be removed even after a certificate or diploma course because we would know what Time has in store for the patient. Architects would demand to see the horoscopes of owners, future residents or the plot of land itself before making a final design of a building. The horoscopes would also tell them whether there would be a flood, fire or earthquake during the occupancy of their client. Agriculture scientists will be able to suggest new strategies of sowing, planting and reaping different crops because they would be helped by accurate foreknowledge of the rainfall, temperature variations, floods, droughts or cyclones. Not only that, they would also know the likely prices they are likely to get for their produce, and - why not - about the dumping or other wise by other countries!

What more can you ask of a university scholar?

Astrology came about through early human’s urge to seek correlation between the rather regular movements of planets and chaotic, unpredictable turns in lives of individuals.

This curiosity led to the science of astronomy and remarkable capabilities in mathematics. Now we know that alignments and conjunctions of planets have minimal impact on the earth and certainly none of it selectively on a person, depending on time or place of birth. Through astronomical observations we might be able to tell whether a comet or an asteroid is on a collision course with the earth, but it is patently ridiculous to suggest that a possible collision would depend on the horoscope of any one here. We cannot blame the horoscope of an earth inhabitant for the collision that led to the disappearance of dinosaurs!

One could go on but to what avail. I would only say that those academics who really believe in the utilitarian aspects of astrology, even Vedic astrology, should diligently work to abolish the conflicting studies, and departments, of astronomy, cosmology, physics and many other branches of knowledge.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I have no objection whatsoever to studying the sociology and the anthropology of the era in which astrology was born and the influence it has had on human history. This was an important step in the growth of human cognition. The manner in which this grew in different settings in the world was an important passage in the cultural history of humans. This needs to be studied and understood better. But all this is best done in one or more of the existing departments, preferably in collaboration with each other. This is very different from establishing structures to apply, with a utilitarian passion, the received wisdom of the distant past. Setting up, almost like religious seminaries, separate departments protected from other sensible ways of thinking would be a horrible mistake. Heaven knows we already have a surfeit of dross floating around our country. We also have enough evidence in our world as to where such pursuits might end. Let us desist. I hope no self-respecting university would ask to start such a department. 


Unmanned aerial vehicles for cities

Scientists of the Aerospace Engineering Department, Auburn University, USA, have developed a new generation of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) which can help monitor disaster-struck cities and towns, especially in a post-earthquake situation to provide an on-the-spot status on the magnitude of destruction.

The UAV for urban applications, known as ‘the Sub-canopy and Urban Micro Aerial Vehicle’ (SUMAV), can also be used in a large way by the police for reconnaissance and keeping an aerial watch on times of mass protests and riots, Dr Ron Barrett, associate professor, Department and Director of adaptive structures laboratory, Auburn University, Alabama, said.

He was making a presentation at the two-day international seminar on “aerospace technologies development and strategies” held in Bangalore, as part of the Aero India 2001, in Bangalore.

The UAVs were remotely controlled from ground control stations through a command and control system, which also receives data relayed from the aerial vehicle. The missio payloads could include daylight TV cameras, thermal imagers, laser rangers and synthetic aperture radars, he said.

UAVs were primarily developed for field surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence collection and, in combat roles in military applications.

However, while cities were characterised by high-rise buildings and constraints in manoeuvring the UAVs through narrow spaces, the scientists felt the need for devising specialised UAV.

Barrett said the need for a UAV to have vertical flight capability was extremely important to adapt to large urban settings in which the aerial vehicle could easily make its way between skyscrapers.

The harsh dynamic urban flight environment and the system’s sensitivity to weight and volume budget gave way in an idea to develop the SUMAVs.

In accordance to the requirements of urban flights, the scientists developed an extremely fast lightweight vehicle with low volume features using adaptive materials. These features were integrated with the most advanced micro aerial vehicle designs to develop the SUMAv generation of UAVs.

Barrett said basic aircraft performance principles were used to narrow down viable aircraft design configurations, and final choices were made given the geometric manoeuvre limitations in urban setting. PTI


Infantry Weapon Effect Simulating System
Vijay Mohan

Crouched behind shrubs and rocks during battle drill training, a raw army recruit trains his rifle at a target — another recruit stationed some distance away — and fires a blank shot. Till some time ago, neither he nor his instructors could judge the accuracy of fire in battle conditions. But now the Infantry Weapon Effect Simulating System (IWESS) has changed all that by providing a realistic feedback.

The IWESS is an electronic laser-based gizmo designed to provide a real-time, accurate overview of the level of weapon handling skills developed during training in the field itself. Mishandling of weapons or handling techniques requiring more attention are also exposed for the instructors to take remedial measures.

Using the system requires recruits to wear a harness on which laser sensors are mounted and to attach a laser projector on the barrel of their weapons where normally a bayonet would be mounted. The harness consists of 14 sensors covering the head, arms as well as the body. An umpire control gun, something like an oversized pistol is manned by an instructor, which receives and processes data.

“This system simulates the effect of fire from small arms and gives a realistic feedback to instructors on the level of competence attained by recruits,” a training officer at 14 Gorkha Training Centre, Sabathu, where this writer witnessed an IWESS demonstration, said.

When a weapon is fired, laser pulses are emitted by the projector, which are trapped by the sensors on a target’s harness and transmitted to the control unit. The control unit then analyses the pulses and is able to tell whether the simulated bullet is on target or, if it has missed, then by what distance. The IWESS is effective up to a range of about 1000 metres.

Armed with this information, instructors are able to take remedial measures and guide the recruit accordingly. Earlier, there was no way of knowing the level of accuracy of fire in simulated battle conditions.

Every harness has an individual number, which can be fed into the control unit for automatic data processing. At any time, up to a hundred numbers can be fed. The system also includes a field laser unit, meant to align rifle barrels with the projector and a data analyser, which has the facility to produce printouts.

Now introduced in all regimental centres during basic training, some of these systems were procured from the Netherlands, though indigenous production has commenced recently.


Propellers from computers

The bronze fishing boat propeller (in the foreground of the picture) has been custom-designed in minutes by a computer and is giving a far greater degree of accuracy than any designed “by hand” enabling the vehicle to achieve optimum performance.

Data about the boat’s operating condition and speed, horsepower, rpm, reduction ratios, maximum swing are fed into the computer. In a matter of minutes — as opposed to two or three days of painstaking figurework — it makes all the desired calculations for the shape, thickness “rake” of the blade and its associated hub machinery, to a high degree of accuracy.

The British company claims to be the only one in the world using advanced computerised design methods for this purpose, and design and manufacture propellers up to 8ft (2.44m) in diameter for various small ship applications.

High quality casting and machine work are also carried out on the premises using the latest design technology in their own computerised machine center for greater efficiency. NF

Raw treatment for eggs

Scientist have developed an in-shell pasteurisation technique which will allow pregnant women, children and the elderly to eat raw or slightly cooked eggs without health risks.

Developed by “Sainbury’s” supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, the technique involves giving heat treatment to kill bacteria without cooking. Customer trials are being carried out.

Once on sale, the eggs will be clearly labelled and will enable those in health groups, such as the elderly and babies who should usually avoid runny or raw eggs, to eat them, safe in the knowledge that the potentially dangerous bacteria have already been destroyed.

“UK government advice continues to be that pregnant women, babies and the elderly should avoid foods with lightly cooked or raw eggs in them. Developing a simple natural process which eliminates this risk is a major leap forward in food safety. PTITop



1. Two independent teams of scientists in the USA have recently succeeded in bringing a beam of light to dead halt and then restarting it to its normal speed of 1,86,000 miles per second. The stoppage, storage and restarting of light was implicitly forecast by the visionary theories of two scientists — one Indian and the other American — in the early 1920s. Albert Einstein was the American. Who was the Indian?

2. In the LASIK (Laser assisted in situ keratomileusis) technique for correcting eye vision, the surgeon cuts and pulls a flap in the cornea and then uses a laser to reshape the underlying tissue. Now we have another technique called LTK which does not involve any cutting but a laser is used to heat the edge of the corner. What is the full name of LTK which is much simpler and less risky than LASIK?

3. It has been observed that the level of the hormone melatonin present in every human being increases at night (in darkness) and causes depression. Name the hormone the level of which increases during day time (in light) and triggers good thoughts and mood.

4. The Indian medicinal plants Cinnamomum Cassia and Cardiospennum Helicacabum have been found to be very effective against two viruses. Which viruses?

5. Out of soyabean, rajmah, dried peas, gram dal and arhar dal taken in equal amounts, which one has the maximum energy value and also the maximum protein content?

6. Earth’s magnetic field can produce a bad effect on the colour accuracy of the monitor of a computer. An added feature of the monitor can reduce this effect and restore original and natural colours. What is this special feature called?

7. The action of a hydraulic press is based on the pressure exerted by a liquid. Who invented this press and in which year?

8. An electric generator produces electrical energy as the output. Which type of energy is given to it as the input?

9. Which element is normally stored in water in the laboratory and why? Which element is stored in kerosene and why?

10. This joint European Space Agency — NASA spacecraft launched in 1990 is these days orbiting the sun and making regular measurements about solar wind, a stream of charged particles constantly flowing away from the sun. Name this spacecraft.


1. Satyendranath Bose 
2. Laser Thermal Keratoplasty 
3. Serotonin 
4. HIV-1 and 2 viruses which cause AIDS 
5. Soyabean 
6. Degauss 
7. British engineer Joseph Bramah in 1795 
8. Mechanical energy 
9. Phosphorus, because it burns in air; sodium, because it catches fire both in water and air 
10. Ulysses.Top