Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Sinking of the Ocean Queen: Titanic

"We have struck iceberg ... sinking fast ... come to our assistance..." The last SOS message from the Titanic crew since it rested into the watery grave.

Touted as the Unsinkable, the luxury cruise-liner RMS Titanic, during its maiden voyage, met its catastrophic end in the North Atlantic, taking lives of more than 1500 people, before reaching New York, its final destination. The disaster happened on April 15, 1912. In 1985, the wrecks of this ships were discovered. April 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster.

Let's take you on a journey on Titanic...10th 1912 to 15th April 1912.

The journey of a lifetime...

Construction of the Unsinkable

One of the biggest luxurious ship built by White Star Line, the RMS Titanic, took nearly three years to get completed. The biggest movable object ever made, the ship was 882 feet long, 93 feet wide and 175 feet high. Over 11,000 employees were involved in the construction. Thomas Andrews, Lord Pirrie's nephew, was in-charge of its design. The ship was composed of ten decks including the Orlop Deck. The Decks were lettered A-G. Below Deck-G were the Boiler Rooms. The whole design was created in a way that the ship would stay afloat with any three water-tight compartments flooded. The crew consisted of 860 people: 320 working the ship, 475 stewards and 65 navigators.

The Splendid Journey
Passengers boarded the Titanic on 10th April 1912 in the morning and the ship went on sail in the afternoon. The ship made a quick stop at Queenstown, France and a few more passengers boarded the ship. On her way to New York on 11th April 1912, she was carrying 2200 people including the crew and the passengers. The journey went smoothly for the next two days as well.
Crew was working hard and people were enjoying their luxurious stay. No one in their wildest dreams must have thought that fate was holding the cards of death and suffering for them.

The Warnings

After sailing smoothly for three days, came the inauspicious day which was going to be written down in the history, not because it was a day when something great happened, but for the bitter memories which it embarked in the hearts of those who survived the disastrous day of 14th April, 1912.
Throughout the day, Titanic received a number of wireless messages from other ships warning about iceberg on its path. Not all of these warnings made it to the bridge. At 9:20 pm, Captain Edward J. Smith, unaware of the seriousness of these warnings, returned to his room. Titanic was still steaming full speed ahead!

How Titanic Met Its Fate
Lookouts were asked to be more diligent in their observations. But since they had no access to binoculars, they saw iceberg only when it was in front of the Titanic.
11:40:00 pm- The lookouts issued a warning using a bell and then used the phone to call the bridge. First Officer Murdoch ordered 'hard-a starboard', to take a sharp left turn, and asked the engines to be put in the reverse. Titanic did bank a bit left, but that wasn't enough.

11:40:37 pm- Thirty-seven seconds later Titanic's starboard on the right scraped along the iceberg. Most of the passengers were already in deep slumber when this happened, but then relying on the fact that the ship was unsinkable, they went back to sleep. Captain Smith knew that something serious has happened and he came back to the bridge. The ship was built to stay afloat even if 3 out of its 16 bulkheads were filled with water. Captain realized that 6 of it were already full.

Elizabeth Shutes, aged 40, governess to nineteen-year-old Margaret Graham who was traveling with her parents shares her experience of the deadly night as, “Suddenly a queer quivering ran under me, apparently the whole length of the ship. Startled by the very strangeness of the shivering motion, I sprang to the floor. With too perfect a trust in that mighty vessel I again lay down. Some one knocked at my door, and the voice of a friend said: 'Come quickly to my cabin; an iceberg has just passed our window; I know we have just struck one.'”

12:05 am- Realizing that Titanic was sinking, Captain ordered the lifeboats to be uncovered.

12:10 am- Wireless operators begin to send the distress calls. Fireworks were used as a signal to gain the attention of the operators at shore or of any other ship passing by, but it was considered that a party was going on at the ship.

The Titanic Sinks
12:45 am- The first lifeboat was launched. Many of the passengers did not realize the severity of the situation and were not ready to get into the lifeboats as Titanic seemed like a warm and comfortable place on a cold, freezing night. There were only 16 standard sized lifeboats and four collapsible lifeboats on the deck as during the process of building Titanic, it was considered that too many lifeboats will make the deck look cluttered.
Women and children were to board the lifeboats first. If the only few available lifeboats were filled properly, more than 1700 lives could have been saved which is just half more than the number of the people aboard.

2:05 am- On April 15, 1912, last lifeboat was lowered. People who were still aboard and saw no other option but to die, reacted in different ways. Some grabbed an object that might stay afloat, threw it in the water and then jumped after it. The water was so freezing that anyone who would have jumped into it froze in two minutes. Whereas, some decided to stay aboard and die with dignity.

2:18 am- The end was near. The mighty vessel, the unsinkable Titanic broke into two and drowned into the North-Atlantic Ocean forever with more than 1500 hundred people, in two minutes.

A Dawn of Sorrows and Rescue

3:30 am- On receiving distress calls from the Titanic, many ships changed their route to help the survivors. Carpathia was the first one to seen by the survivors.

4:10 am- The first survivor stepped aboard the Carpathia. By the next four hours, all the survivors were aboard and the Carpathia headed towards New York, reaching the destination on the evening of April 18, 1912. Only 705 people survived and more than 1500 died.

2012: After a Century

It's been a century since that disaster happened, but it still makes chill run through the spine whenever someone thinks of that crystal-clear silent night which took the lives of so many people away.
The saga has inspired countless books and films. James Cameron's legendary film 'Titanic' has been recently adapted into 3D format on the silver screen.

This year, a centennial cruise, MS Balmoral will tread the journey of Titanic from Queensland till New York and will stop at the place where ship sank at 2:20 on April 15, 2012, for a memorial service.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Day World Will Stand Still: Operation Global Blackout

Can you imagine an entire day without Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google, Wikipedia?

Just the thought of a day without the internet is enough to scare the life out of any of us. But, be it a rumor or truth, 31st March 2012 has been designated as a “Global Blackout Day” by a group of cyber hackers called 'Anonymous'.

The news circuit has recently been hammered by a shocking news of Internet Closure for a day! The web has been flooded with the news of possible attack on the Domain Name System (DNS) by the members of Anonymous group.

The infamous hacktivist network has launched their one day movement to protest against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), Wall Street, the irresponsible politicians and the bankers of the country who are starving the world for their own selfish needs.

On the contrary, one of the Anonymous writer has explained the plan of the group on one of the popular social networking site as a strategy to fool people into thinking that Internet is offline!
They have planned to shut down the 13 servers that connect URLs (like with the IP codes (web address) of websites. If successful in their attempt, people accessing the websites will find only a blank page,concluding, that Internet is temporarily out of service.
Anonymous, has no single mouthpiece and the news regarding the blackout are surfacing upon the web from the different Internet accounts.

@YourAnonNewsEurope confirmed the Operation Global Blackout, writing as "It's firing !! Anonymous launches 'Operation Global Blackout', aims to DDoS the Root Internet servers."

But how serious are these threats?
To some it appears to be April Fools joke- albeit one day early or the indications of gaining some publicity for their anti-SOPA campaign.
Even if the Anonymous plans don’t come to fruition, would their take-down methods actually work?
Is it possible to shut down the internet?

Anonymous specializes in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which they have incorporated in the past. In a DDoS attack, computers across the internet overwhelm the target server by sending numerous anonymous friend requests. In an attempt to process the request, the target server “loses” the legitimate requests, causing genuine users to experience the unacceptable delays or time-outs.

Although the hacktivist's are planning the massive DNS amplification attack to shut the internet infrastructure for a day, they surely lack the capability to execute them. Graham's post, titled “No,# Anonymous can't DDoS the root DNS servers,” makes a strong argument that Internet is completely protected and their attempt to shut down the central servers will be noticed by cyber-attack cell, once they start executing the damage. He has also suggested that if Anonymous goal is to trick the public into thinking that they have shut off the internet, they should focus on taking out the biggest websites like Google, Twitter & Facebook because people are more concerned about internet for accessing these social networking sites.

Be it a threat or just a rumour buzzing the cyber zone, if there is 1% reality to the confusion then professionals across the globe must be worried about how information will be accessed and how work will be done.

Countdown has already begun... 


Definitely! A worst nightmare for the world!

Monday, March 5, 2012

2012 and The World

They say, "Live like you're never gonna live again". New Year's Eve, 31/12/2011, was celebrated by people as if they will never see another year again. And they were not even wrong as they were entering the most dreaded year- 2012.

Amidst all the buzz, celebrations, doubts, queries, began 2012. Doubts and queries being- Will this year bring doomsday on 21.12.12 and will lead to the end of the world?

A lot of predictions, prophesies, scientific phenomenons have been considered which might lead to the end of the world. The movie 2012 showed earth crumbling and shifting it's latitude, volcanoes erupting, heavy snowfall in New Delhi and a flood in the Deccan Plateau. But the question is- Is it really going to happen in reality?

You might have read or heard a lot about "How the World will End in 2012?". But, let us tell you some of the reasons as to "Why the World Wouldn't End in 2012?"

1- Changes in the Sun's magnetic field:
There is nothing new about it. Sun goes through a very well documented 11 year cycle caused by magnetic field entangling, reforming and flipping polarity. 2012 or 2013 might see the peak of the current cycle and this peak might be 30-50 percent stronger than the last one. But as per experts, this might not be the highest peak ever seen. So, the bottom line is, Sun is not going to produce flares and it's dragon's breath won't stretch across 100 million times and make Earth a blowtorch. Last recorded largest solar flare happened on 4th November, 2003 which threw billions of tons of plasma in Earth's direction.
But, ta-da! We're still here.
2- Reversal of Earth's magnetic field:
Yes, Earth surely does reverses it's magnetic field and geological evidences show that Earth's magnetic field has changed it's orientation thousands of times in Earth's history. The last time it happened was 800,000 years ago and there is no such proof that Earth's magnetic field reversal can lead to mass extinction due to increase in cosmic ray influx.
So, relax. Cavemen survived it, so why can't we?

3- Earth's rotation axis will tip:
Well, Earth doesn't go through wide excursions on its axis like Mars. We have got our natural satellite- the Moon, whose gravitational pull has kept Earth on its axis for zillions of years now and it will take an object equivalent to the size of Mars to hit and knock the Earth down from its axis, which is not going to happen soon enough.

4- Alignment of Jupiter and Saturn will influence Earth:
It has been said that the grand alignment of Jupiter and Saturn will lead to geological and gravitational upheavals on Earth and by the way, none of such alignments have been forecasted for 2012. This grand conjunction has happened already twice in past. First on 4-5 February, 1969 which was followed by a solar eclipse. Another one happened in 1982. But during both the alignments, life went on like usual and nothing destructive happened. We are 400 million miles away from Jupiter, so there's nothing to worry about such alignment.

5- On winter solstice the Sun will align with galactic equator:
We pass through the galactic phase in almost every 40 million years and it is possible that an increased number of comets might be thrown at the Earth because of the gravitational interaction with the densest part of our galaxy, but still it is not going to destroy us. We might have to face the bitter consequences only if the comet rain fell on Earth spanning across thousands of years and not crashing down on us only in one specific year and on a specific date. Don't worry, these are just a few co-ordinates in the sky.

6- A black hole will engulf the Earth:
Yes, there is a black hole in the galactic center and yes it might also engulf our Earth. But, don't faint because that is around seven billion years away! Our Milky Way galaxy might collide with Andromeda galaxy which might dump gas into the black hole but this is not going to happen at least in 2012.

7- An asteroid will knock the Earth down:
The most threatening asteroid nearest to the Earth is 900 foot wide Apophis. But it's next close approach is in 2029 and even then the possibility of getting hit by Apophis is 1 in 250,000.

8- Supernovae or Hypernovae will irradiate Earth:
The nearest star, the red giant Betelgeuse, is predicted to explode in the next thousand years. The Death Stars which radiate gamma rays on explosion are uncommon in our Milky Way and neither of the soon-to-die-star has its spin axis aligned at Earth.

What does Mayan expert say?

Leonzo Barreno, Mayan Expert who immigrated to Canada from Guatemala 23 years ago and currently teaches journalism at the University of Regina says, "There are two sides of the story. One, which is already in the media predicting that the end of Mayan Long Count calendar marks the end of the world. Another side of the story is that this would be the fifth time that Mayan calendar would be ending."

According to him, during his training at Guatemala, the elders or the spiritual leaders never said anything about 'the end of the world'. For them end of the Long Count Calendar is a new beginning, a joyous event not an apocalyptic one.

So, after looking at all the probable possibilities of getting extinct, we can relax after having a logical explaination of the so-called possibilities as to why they are nothing more than faux pas. And even then if some out-of-the-world-factor crushes all our dreams of living on 21.12.12, nobody can do anything about it.

Just live like you're never gonna live again.