Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Take off from a modern airport this year

The Mumbai Airport. (file photo)

MUMBAI: First, it was the turn of the Hyderabadis. Five years ago, they got a new spacious, glass-and-concrete airport with such novelties as green walls of plants. A few months later, the citizens of Bangalore rejoiced as the city raced Hyderabad to gift itself a new airport. Two years ago, just before the Commonwealth Games, Delhi airport threw open the sprawling and swanky Terminal 3 that did away with the old low-ceiling, replete-with-pillars, terminal of the past. This year, it is the turn of Mumbaikars to fly in style.

Around December, international passengers will move to T2, a brand new terminal that has been in the making for the last six-seven years at the foreground of the Sahar international terminal (see map below).

Described as the "most iconic development in recent times" by the airport operator, it will be far more spacious, aesthetic and convenient to use, what with more check-in, immigration and security counters that promise to shorten queues and cut stress. For one: currently only nine aircraft can dock at a time at the international terminal. The partially completed new terminal will have a capacity to handle 18.

"After the operations are moved, the existing international terminals will be demolished to make way for the southeast tier of the new terminal,'' said a Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson. By the end of 2014, the integrated terminal will be completed and will handle both international and domestic flights.

The new terminal will eventually have two arms or tiers - the southwest tier and the southeast tier - with aerobridges. Almost all flights will get an aerobridge and so the practice of using of coaches to transfer passengers will be over.

Meanwhile, meaningful alterations are being made in the present terminals to make the flying experience easier and pleasanter for all passing through Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (see graphic).

On the flip side is capacity constraint. Space-starved Mumbai can afford an airport that can handle only up to 40 million passengers every year. Even by domestic standards, it's not animpressive number. Delhi airport can already handle 46 million passengers a year; when fully ready, it can manage 100 million. Even Hyderabad airport, which handled only 8 million passengers in 2011-2012 as compared to Mumbai's 30 million (for 2012), will have the capacity for 40 million passengers when its final phase is complete.

In the global arena, Mumbai airport is petite when compared to say Al Maktoum, the behemothcoming up in Dubai. When complete, it will be able to handle 160 million passengers/year, four times the handling capacity of Mumbai.

Dubai's present airport saw a 13.2% increase in passenger traffic last year, making it the world's third busiest airport for international traffic. The largest chunk of its passengers came from India - 7.34 million, marking a 7.4% increase - mainly because Indians largely took a transit halt in Dubai when flying to different parts of the world.

"Even without a competitor like Dubai, Mumbai airport would not have emerged into a strong hub because of capacity constraints. Purely from a passenger point of view, living in a city whose airport is a major hub brings benefits. One gets the choice of flying direct to several destinations and can save on cost of air ticket and time as well," said an aviation consultant. "In short, in the coming years, the percentage of international passengers from Mumbai who transit through Dubai, Delhi to fly to destinations around the world will only go up greatly," he added.

Monday, January 28, 2013

circa 1950: A steam locomotive on the narrow gauge mountain railway which runs between Darjeeling and Calcutta, India. (Photo by Richard Harrington/Three Lions/Getty Images

Steam Locomotive

circa 1950: Women labourers in the coalmining industry in India. A large number of them are employed in the industry but they work above ground. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Women Coal Workers

Shved Head
Banaras Beggar

Retrospective - A New Republic, circa 1950

In 1950, the Constitution of India came into force. These rare monochrome photographs capture the essence of India, a newly fledged Republic.
Taj Mahal

b circa 1950: A boatman propels his boat with a single oar along the Jumna river, in the background rises the Taj Mahal. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Street Wash

Two men taking their morning wash at a public pump on the streets of Calcutta, India. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

Indian Billboard

circa 1950: A man buying fruit from a street stall in front of an advertising hoarding promoting several films in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Richard Harrington/Three Lions/Getty Images)
Hooghly River Bath

circa 1950: Men having an early morning wash in Calcutta's busy Hooghly river, with its large freighters in the background. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)


circa 1950: Boats travelling the backwaters near Cochin, in the state of Kerala. (Photo by Siegfried Sammer/Three Lions/Getty Images)
Howrah Bridge
circa 1950: A farmer and his oxcart trudge past the girders of the Howrah bridge over the Hooghly river in Calcutta. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Marriage Symbols
circa 1950: As a priest reads from the scriptures food, symbolising wealth and fecundity, is placed in the hands of a bride. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)Delhi Switchboard

Siegfried Sammer/Three Lions/Getty Images)

Operators at work in the New Delhi Telephone Exchange. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cooling down of universe

 follows Big Bang theory

MELBOURNE: Astronomers have made the most precise measurement ever of how the universe has cooled down during its 13.77 billion year history just as predicted in Big Bang theory.

They studied molecules in clouds of gas in a galaxy 7.2 billion light years away — so far that its light has taken half the age of the universe to reach us. Using the Australia Telescope Compact Array, a team from Sweden, France, Germany and Australia has measured how warm the Universe was when it was half its current age. "This is the most precise measurement ever made of how the Universe has cooled down during its 13.77 billion year history," said Robert Braun, chief scientist at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science in a statement.

Because light takes time to travel, when we look out into space we see the Universe as it was in the past — as it was when light left the galaxies we are looking at. So to look back half-way into the Universe's history, we need to look halfway across the Universe.

The astronomers studied gas in an unnamed galaxy 7.2 billion light-years away. The only thing keeping this gas warm is the cosmic background radiation — the glow left over from the Big Bang. By chance, there is another powerful galaxy, a quasar called PKS 1830-211 , lying behind the unnamed galaxy.

A global-warming wish









The start of a year, always a time of forecasts—with reference to which, see p. 26—can be the occasion for wishes, as well. Here's one: that popular debate about global warming starts to address real issues.
In the Dec. 23 New York Times, eminent columnist Thomas L. Friedman demonstrated everything wrong about the global-warming conversation in a column entitled "Send in the Clowns," in which he offered advice to the political right from somewhere closer to the other end of the ideological spectrum. "If Republicans continue to be led around by, and live in fear of, a base that denies global warming after Hurricane Sandy and refuses to ban assault weapons after Sandy Hook—a base that would rather see every American's taxes rise rather than increase taxes on millionaires—the party has no future," he wrote.
In this broad smear, the scientific mystery of global warming shrinks into a single, simple wrinkle on the craggy face of political caricature. The implication is that anyone who "denies global warming" is, like everyone not aglow with liberal wisdom on other subjects, simply wrong-headed.
Yet who, precisely, "denies global warming," a natural phenomenon in the absence of which humans could not exist? And how, exactly, does a single weather event relate to climate phenomena?
To the superior intellects who take their political cues from the New York Times, questions such as these are trivial. They know what Friedman means: Anyone reluctant to make economic sacrifice to possibly unfounded concern surrenders the privilege of being taken seriously in polite company. Therefore, Republicans who wonder aloud about the efficacy of costly remedies, let alone the need for them—the phrase "deny global warming," decoded—deprive their party of legitimacy.
This is not argumentation. This is snobbery.

Case suffers

The case for costly precaution against global warming has, in fact, suffered lately. It has suffered politically, economically, and scientifically.
The political case began to fray when well-placed university researchers in the UK and at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were found to have subordinated science to politics in many instances. The mischief included, for example, publication in an important IPCC report of unfounded predictions about the melting of Himalayan glaciers—a politically incendiary error that the IPCC brushed off as minor oversight. More recently, British Broadcasting Corp., a persistent and politically potent source of dire warming forecasts, was found to have decided not to report contrary views on the advice of environmental activists.
The fear-driven political agenda sustained these blows to its credibility while global economic malaise forced attention to cost, providing a context most unpromising for proposals to displace fossil energy with much more-expensive alternatives.
And then there's the problem—for activists—of science. Satellite temperature measurements over the last decade or so haven't tracked predictions by computer models the IPCC uses to predict dangerous warming. According to some interpretations, average global temperature has quit rising.

Observation vs. prediction

To the extent discrepancies exist between observation and prediction, questions gain strength about modeling assumptions concerning the sensitivity of measured temperature to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases. Scientists disagree over the extent of that discrepancy and what it means. Their work in this still-murky area of climate science is important.
But the question that should be central to policy-making remains open: Do humans, with the emissions of GHGs for which they're responsible, contribute so much to warming that by cutting emissions they can meaningfully influence global average temperature? The answer, because warming has many causes and the climate has offsetting mechanisms not yet well understood, might be no.
To point this out is not churlish. And reluctance to impose heavy cost on the mere chance that worst-case scenarios, generated by systems shown to have predictive lapses, might come true is not evidence of political illegitimacy.
For more than 30 years, the activists of global-warming politics have predicted doom and insisted on immediate precaution, whatever the cost. They've answered reasonable questions about their urgent agenda by mischaracterizing questions and disparaging questioners. And they've been caught in multiple instances of propagandist excess.
This would be a good year for a conversation about global warming not overheated by zealotry, finally, to begin.

Global warming has stalled since 1998: UK Met office

LONDON: Global warming has stalled since 1998, and in the next few years Earth's temperature will not rise as rapidly as feared, UK Met officials have claimed.

Over the next five years temperatures will be 0.43 degrees above the 1971-2000 average, instead of the previously forecast 0.54 degrees - a 20 per cent reduction, the Met office in UK has confirmed.

This rise would be only slightly higher than the 0.4-degree rise recorded in 1998, an increase which is itself attributed by forecasters to an exceptional weather phenomenon, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

With all but 0.03 degrees of the increase having occurred by 1998, it means that no further significant increases to the planet's temperature are expected over the next few years.

The figures have been seized on by sceptics of man-made climate change, who claim that global warming has flatlined despite a large rise in greenhouse emissions in recent decades.

"That the global temperature standstill could continue to at least 2017 would mean a 20-year period of no statistically significant change in global temperatures," Dr David Whitehouse, science adviser to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said.

"Such a period of no increase will pose fundamental problems for climate models. If the latest Met Office prediction is correct, then it will prove to be a lesson in humility," Whitehouse said.

"Global warming is not 'at a standstill' but does seem to have slowed down since 2000, in comparison to the rapid warming of the world since the 1970s," Dr Richard Allan of the University of Reading said.

"In fact, consistent with rising greenhouse gases, heat is continuing to build up beneath the ocean surface," Allan added.

He was backed by Bob Ward of the London School of Economics, who said it would be wrong to interpret that warming had stopped.

The Met Office said the updated five-year predictions were a result of a new modelling system, which takes into account changes in ocean surface temperatures, and was released as soon as practically possible.

It claims the slow-down in temperature rises after a steep increase in the 1990s could be explained by natural variability, changes in solar activity, and the movements of the oceans.

"A lot of people were claiming, in the run-up to the Copenhagen 2009 conference, that warming was accelerating and it is all worse than we thought," Professor Myles Allen of the University of Oxford said.

"What has happened since then has demonstrated that it is foolish to extrapolate short-term climate trends," Allen said.