Why ISRO’s Scramjet Engines are ‘The Need of the hour’ ?

ISRO

From the MARS Orbiter mission (Mangalyaan) to the recent successful Flight Testing of domestically designed Scramjet Engine, we have come a long way in the field of space research. We have seen undeterred success in the satellite launches using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) till date.

Why Scramjet Engines are ‘The Need of the hour’ ?

To understand Scramjet let us travel back in history, when the term ‘Jet Engines’ was the buzzword. One biggest advantage of a Jet Engine is that it can be used to take off from the runway. Jet Engines can take us up to MACH 3.5, that is 3.5 times the speed of sound (1Km/s). So a Jet Engine cannot take us into the Hyper-sonic regime which is about MACH 5. The main limitation in the Jet Engine is that the speed of flow that passes through the COMBUSTION chamber is very much Sub-Sonic. A Jet Engine primarily consist of 4 blocks. First is the Intake, followed by the Compressor, then comes the Combustion chamber  finally the Exhaust. The role of the compressor in a Jet Engine is to raise the level of Pressure and Temperature. But when we are operating at very higher speeds, the Intake and the Compressor has to reduce the flow to sub-sonic levels to facilitate the Combustion chamber. This process of slowing down generates a great amount of Pressure and Temperature, high enough to facilitate the combustion. So the role of Compressor and Turbine(that drives the compressor) becomes futile.

When you discard Compressor and Turbine in a Jet Engine, you end up with a Ramjet. A Ramjet Engine needs the air to to be pushed into its intake at Super Sonic, which then is reduced to Sub Sonic levels. But the act of pushing air into the Ramjet (called RAM-effect) increases the temperature to higher levels. At that point of time, we needed a Jet Engine which can keep the speed of flow at Super Sonic levels even inside the engine and also weigh less(without compressor, turbine and other mechanical overheads). Thus a Scramjet was developed. The oxygen needed by the Scramjet Engine for combustion is taken from the atmosphere passing through the vehicle, instead of from a tank on-board unlike the previous systems. This makes the craft lighter and faster.

The Scramjet technology significantly cuts down the cost of launching rockets by reducing its weight by more than half. On July 30, 2002, the University of Queensland’s HyShot team and international partners conducted the first ever successful test flight of a Scramjet. Though 14 years looks like a long period, but for a country with an economy like us, this is a phenomenal achievement. The Hyshot team had funding across the globe but Hyshot 1 failed miserably. But in a jiffy,we have come an inch closer in establishing a reusable space transport system for every future mission of ours. This is what, that makes ISRO stand tall in the Space Race– A low-cost, indigenous and a successful Scramjet mission in the very first attempt.

Duly quoting….

This test-bed could be a pathfinder for a future unmanned reusable launch vehicle that could take off like a rocket, deploy a satellite in orbit, and return to Earth and land on a runway. ”

-ISRO

Following the Scramjet, ISRO is all set for revolutionary missions in the next 10 years. That includes India’s first manned mission into moon, the Chandraayan 2; the SAARC satellite, a communication cum meteorology satellite which is regarded as the Brainchild of Mr.Narendra Modi; Aditya 1, the first Indian mission to study the sun; NISAR mission, the biggest collaboration of all time between two key players in Space Research-  NASA and ISRO. ISRO’s budget for a fiscal year is just 3 percent of the NASA’s budget. So it cannot and should not be seen as a competition. ISRO is already a key player in the field of Space Exploration and with the years to come, ISRO will be regarded in the same way as that of NASA.

GODSPEED ISRO !!!

How Technology Has Changed Over Time?

tech

‘Mom…! Hurry up, dad is online.’ It was a typical morning for the Dunst household. Mr Dunst is a war soldier and his family is in Oregon.

Well, isn’t it fascinating just to realise that despite of being miles apart, you can talk to anyone at any given time? Not just that, you can keep a complete track of your loved ones, exchange gifts, send them money and what not. Living in 21st century, I tell you… It has definitely made the world closer and smaller.

Technology, a word covering decades of transformation and revolution. I remember my dad’s first cellular phone in the 90s… A thick metal box like walkie-talkie device, an antenna sticking out of it, adding a bomb sum to the bill every time he made a call. Today, he has his world captured in his ultra-slim smart phone.

Over the past couple of years, we have seen times which children of today’s generation will even find hard to believe. Will your 8 year old nephew believe that you had to stand in queues for hours together just to book tickets for a family holiday which you all plan to go 3 months later? Today, it is just a click away. A play of buttons and you can have a virtual tour of your favourite city, turn on the air conditioner in your home or even learn how to make a robot.

The first mobile phone would cost almost $200 (and that was a lot to pay in those days) and you could only make or receive calls. In the late 80s, the SMS generated a new wave and made communication easier. Gradually, the mobile phone prices started declining too. As we entered the 90s, technology turned new stones over every passing year. The phones had features like videos recording, coloured screens and voice messages. Late 90s brought in the internet which took the world by a storm and then nothing could ever stop it. Looking at the way technology is pacing, the day is not far to see the advances in your favourite Hollywood film turn into something real and a business of day-to-day life.

These phones have become extremely easy-to-operate. In fact, children these days know them better than their parents.

Today, the buttons of those QWERTY keypads have been replaced by bright glare free, shatterproof, scratch resistant touch screens and more software have made space in these technological wonders. Now, you can have the best of the technical world for the cheapest price.

Today, a smart phone can detect your blood sugar, be your best guide with GPS, remind of the oodles of calories you had throughout the day and a lot more. Google, the most widely used web portal or the IOS, the most advanced operating system, various networking and operating systems have made life a lot smoother.

The next generation of smartphones is going to be context-based and aware due to the physical sensors and data exchange options. These phones will start keeping track of your personal data, yet adapt to the information you will need based on your search history. New applications and new kind of phones. The world is already obsessing over Pokémon Go’s augmented reality innovation. More is yet to come. Android Nougat, Allo and Duo, new iPhone in the making… Phew! The list is long.

An array of mobile applications of almost everything you can imagine, just like a piece of cake… This reminds me, I need to order online, a cake and a bouquet for my mom… Good day, folks.

Flat

I am fond of ‘Trends’ actually. According to me, trends give us (me, to be particular) one of the prominent reasons for happiness. Almost every independent group on God’s green Earth has a trend of its own. Whether we know it or not, trends keep updating themselves and continue to delight us, every now and then. Rest is our part to turn around, leave a glance and lose our hearts or turn a deaf ear to them. But there are certain trends that are too condescending to be dispelled from our interests. Yes. Some of them are deep-rooted, which only evolve in due course of time.

One such proliferated trend has mesmerized the User interface (UI) and app designers in recent times. The entire design world was flattered by this trend, that even giants in this field have graciously embraced the same. Adapting to this trend has become a ritual now, at least to wipe off the outdated look and present a brand new stature. Presenting you the ‘Flat’ aesthetic, the modern day’s design trend. Of course, ‘flattening’ everything is the soul concept behind this aesthetic.

Designing world is where trends always move backwards to where everything actually started. This flat aesthetic is no exception. You would’ve likely heard its praises sung on blogs and in lists of design trends. This visually simplistic style has its roots in minimalism and can take a variety of forms, but is better defined by what it isn’t. It isn’t 3D. The style’s name comes from its two-dimensional qualities, including flat shapes and the absence of details that create depth and dimension — such as shadows, highlights, and textures. It isn’t skeuomorphic (container + form). Flat design started as reaction against skeuomorphism, an embellished style intended to suggest or resemble real-world objects or processes.

Flat design really started becoming a recognizable style in 2012 and 2013. Those were the years this trend became highly visible (and easier to emulate) thanks to the release of Windows 8 and iOS 7.

Flat windows

The ‘sweet spot’ in the evolution of flat design is somewhere between the original trend and the skeuomorphic ideals that were abandoned. But since flat design has been around for several years now and is still going strong, it’s likely more than just a passing trend. This drives me to know more about the entire reason for such flourishment and where this is to end up in future.

Since Microsoft and Apple jumped on board with flat design, the style was quickly adopted as a fresh approach to user experience. It was and continues to be popular for web and mobile design — and for good reason.Flat2

Compatibility with responsive design is an important occupant in the pros corner of our aesthetic. Flat design’s principles can be applied to other design categories, but its grid-based layouts and simple graphics are particularly suited to web and mobile design since they’re easily able to be resized or rearranged to display on different devices and screen sizes. On the other hand, skeuomorphism’s highly detailed style with lots of shadows and textures, along with fixed-size imagery, often doesn’t translate well when shrunk down or enlarged to fit various viewing methods.

Our hero has another affable quality, Flexibility. Call it what you like — a grid, cards, modules, or blocks — many designs going for the flat look tend to have compositions organized by uniform geometric shapes. This type of layout, where every design element has its place, is easy to scan and navigate quickly.

Flat qualities also extend to designers’ approach to typesetting, which often results in larger, more streamlined typography. The absence of shadows and other effects makes text easier to read.

But, the trend also has a box filled with cons, compromised usability being a principal one. In an effort to emphasize flat design’s clean, streamlined qualities, some designers fall into the trap of focusing too much on aesthetics — to the extent that it negatively impacts a design’s usability. This is a particular risk for web and mobile design. Take this website as an example. Are all the boxes clickable? Only some of them? It’s hard to tell just by looking at it.

Lack of distinctiveness is the next one in the queue. One of the downsides of flat design is that sticking to a simplistic, narrowly defined visual style often results in the designs and colours they choose that look very or somewhat similar.

Flat design regularly shows up on design trend lists, as it continues to be a popular choice for designers who want their work to come across as modern or reflective of current technology, that some designers will apply them just to follow the crowd, without really thinking about their usefulness. This can result in purposeless design choices — for instance, early flat design’s fondness for long shadows.

While early iterations of flat design were characterized by a strict visual simplicity, recent developments have seen the subtle reintroduction of qualities like shadow and texture — for both aesthetic and functional reasons.

The result of these tweaks to a purely flat approach to design resulted in a style often referred to as “Flat 2.0” or “almost-flat” design. This style is more of a compromise: you still get the clean simplicity of flat design, but add some subtly skeuomorphic qualities for visual variety and improved usability.

Having many characteristics in common with almost-flat design, material design is a visual language developed by Google that emphasizes grid-based layouts and features “deliberate colour choices, edge-to-edge imagery, large-scale typography, and intentional white space” for a bold, graphic look.

So while big brands like Microsoft, Apple, and Google definitely have influence when it comes to popularizing design styles, it’s the designers that take trends and run with them to create something new — it’s the designers that help usher in the next “big thing.”

The Reign of Smartphones

Smart Phones

High Dynamic Ranging, 13 mega-pixel camera, 8 mega-pixel front camera, giga bytes of RAM, Snapdragon-810 processor quad core etc…!! These technical terms were only used by IT professionals a few years back. But nowadays these are the most trending and commonly used terms on a daily basis. The ubiquitous smart devices have not only entered the markets, but also announced their arrival in our lives and day to day usage. With the advent of phones having multi-tasking capabilities and price tags below the range of 10k, it’s a common sight to see a smart phone in the possession of all.

With Samsung breaking the barrier by crossing the most number of smart phones sold a year and other competitors reinventing the various technologies, people find it indeed a really hard task to keep their fingers off the phones.

We all know the capability of these gadgets but all these technological advancements find themselves on the back foot when it comes to its wide influence on the teenagers and adults. Agreed that it makes life interesting and facile but it’s really heart breaking to see kids glued to it the whole time rather than being out of their houses and indulging in physical activities. People are so much engrossed in the “virtual-reality” that they fail to notice and pay attention to the things happening around them. We can often find kids failing to respond to the calls of their parents as they are deeply engaged in a game. If you are a parent, would you rather see your eight year old sweating it out in a tennis-court/swimming pool, or surf the subways on your smart phone?

I remember the time when my achievements in academics earned me a nice English willow cricket bat during my school days. For a whole week, I enjoyed the envious looks of my mates. However, the current scenario is such that, the kids nowadays, are being promised a new phone in exchange of high grades. It makes me wonder if this is how people define a generation gap. If so, I simply pity the kids who are deprived of any form of physical activity. Teenagers tend to fall a victim to the “virtual world” and become couch potatoes.

How hard could it be to not use your cell phones for a couple of hours? Turns out, it is very hard. I find people seeing their phones every 5 minutes even though they haven’t received any kind of notification. Such is the influence of this addiction. And just when people started worrying about the high charge consumption of the phones, the manufactures came up with a new product; “The Power Banks”. As the power bank found its way into the market, it of course, became an instant hit, much to the delight of many. It was introduced with a motive of keeping you “always connected”. Is it really that necessary?

There are also some other major causes of concern; privacy and security. With photos and data automatically getting uploaded to the cloud, there are lots security issues. They seem to be secure and safe, but all it takes is a good hacker. There were lots of leaked personal photographs of celebrities that came to light when the cloud database got hacked once. That’s when the alarm bells started ringing and the companies implemented counter measures. Still, there are a lot of ignorant people. With the e-mail accounts automatically getting synced to the phone, it just makes phishing easier. It is simpler to hack an account synced on the smart phones when compared to laptops or desktops. It generally happens when people connect to a free wireless source internet and unknowingly, they become a sitting duck. Hence, it is necessary to stay very cautious.

I’m not trying to play the blame-game here and go poking fingers at all. I myself am a victim to this addiction. I just want to stress on the fact about how much these are influencing our life style in a negative way too. There are a lot of productive ways in which the smart phones can be used but one needs to draw a clear and decisive line between its proper usage and addiction.

We humans are indeed becoming the slaves of our own creation.
I really miss those days when phones were just used for the sake of communication with others. The population then, was a much more interactive and a prudent one.