NASA has named 21 constellations after present day mythical heroes and objects(Reuters)
NASA has named 21 constellations after present day mythical heroes and objects(Reuters)

Mythologies engage with science fiction to inform real science

In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, NASA has named 21 constellations after present day mythical heroes and objects. From The Hulk to Doctor Who’s TARDIS, Godzilla to Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and Albert Einstein to the Starship Enterprise, all of those things have now been memorialised in the stars.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2018 05:02 PM IST

Those constellations that the very first astronomically curious humans were able to spot with their naked eyes were named after mythological heroes and objects that those early astronomers could identify with — depending on which civilisation they lived in. There’s no reason why that trend should not be followed in the present day as well. NASA appears to agree. In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, NASA has named 21 constellations after present day mythical heroes and objects. From The Hulk to Doctor Who’s TARDIS, Godzilla to Thor’s hammer Mjolnir to the Starship Enterprise, all of those things have now been memorialised in the stars.

These constellations are not regular stars, but are groups of gamma-ray sources that scientists have discovered using the Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope, the most sensitive gamma-ray telescope in orbit around the earth. The Fermi has been in orbit for a decade now and has helped scientists understand the mysteries of objects that emit gamma-rays such as supermassive black holes, merging neutron stars, and streams of hot gas moving almost at the speed of light. The Fermi maps the entire sky every three hours, and studies some of the universe’s most extreme phenomena such as pulsars, supernova remnants, and gamma-ray bursts. Gamma-ray radiation is a high energy radiation billions of times more energetic than visible light. Studying these phenomena using the Fermi can give us more insight into the birth and the early evolution of the universe. Bringing together cosmologists and particle physicists, the Fermi has helped scientists test the very fundamentals of science, such as the speed of light, what sort of particles dark matter is made of, and to study younger, and more high-energy pulsars in the Milky Way.

Since all good science fiction is rooted in actual science, it is hardly surprising that most of the fictional heroes and objects that these gamma-ray constellations have been named for are linked in some way to gamma-ray radiations too. Godzilla’s trademark “heat ray” weapon “bears at least a passing resemblance to gamma-ray jets associated with black holes and neutron stars” according to NASA ; while the Hulk is famously a result of Dr Bruce Banner’s experiments with gamma-rays going horribly wrong. The Starship Enterprise’s engines were powered by the annihilation of matter and antimatter, a process that produces energy in the form of gamma rays. Immortalising such symbols in scientific endeavour is as much an acknowledgement of modern day mythologies as it is of the power of science fiction to inform real science.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre, as of 2020, China ranks only second to the US in having the skills to pursue cyber objectives. But where it lacks skill, it makes up for intent — earning an overall cyber power index rank of two among 30 countries. India, with low intent as well as capability, ranks 21 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre, as of 2020, China ranks only second to the US in having the skills to pursue cyber objectives. But where it lacks skill, it makes up for intent — earning an overall cyber power index rank of two among 30 countries. India, with low intent as well as capability, ranks 21 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Boosting cyber capabilities

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:08 PM IST
A report indicating a Chinese attack on critical Indian infrastructure should lead to a review. Cyber experts have long pointed out this asymmetry in capabilities between India and its adversaries and how engagement in the cyber domain is not limited to rules of real-world conflict.
Close
To kickstart this green housing revolution, states must adopt the Eco-Niwas Samhita Part I, an energy conservation building code for residential buildings, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2018. This sets standards to limit heat gains (for cooling-dominated climates), limit heat loss (for heating-dominated climates), and ensure natural ventilation and daylight potential. Unfortunately, the codes are voluntary, and many states have not dovetailed them into their by-laws. (Bloomberg)
To kickstart this green housing revolution, states must adopt the Eco-Niwas Samhita Part I, an energy conservation building code for residential buildings, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2018. This sets standards to limit heat gains (for cooling-dominated climates), limit heat loss (for heating-dominated climates), and ensure natural ventilation and daylight potential. Unfortunately, the codes are voluntary, and many states have not dovetailed them into their by-laws. (Bloomberg)

Housing must be climate-resilient

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:01 PM IST
Delhi recorded its second warmest February since 1901. To adapt to a warming world, India needs to construct buildings that are thermally comfortable; have natural daylight; and proper ventilation.
Close
On the basis of this, Friday’s data, anecdotal evidence, and high-frequency indicators, while it does seem likely that India’s recovery will be patchy, the overall number for 2020-21 may actually end up being a little better than -8%, or even -7.7% (PTI)
On the basis of this, Friday’s data, anecdotal evidence, and high-frequency indicators, while it does seem likely that India’s recovery will be patchy, the overall number for 2020-21 may actually end up being a little better than -8%, or even -7.7% (PTI)

Reading the numbers right | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:20 AM IST
India’s third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers, released on Friday, are interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least being the fact that while the GDP number was marginally lower than estimates, the gross value added (GVA) number was marginally higher
Close
The expansion of the drive, and the involvement of the private sector is a welcome move, and will help, but it is time India started thinking about opening up vaccination for all takers (Sant Arora /Hindustan Times)
The expansion of the drive, and the involvement of the private sector is a welcome move, and will help, but it is time India started thinking about opening up vaccination for all takers (Sant Arora /Hindustan Times)

Covid-19: Open up vaccination for all | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:20 AM IST
As this newspaper has repeatedly said: Approve more vaccines; make them available in the open market; and open up vaccination
Close
It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)
It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)

The India-Pakistan thaw | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:25 AM IST
The sudden announcement of the Indian and Pakistani armies recommitting themselves to the frayed 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) took many by surprise in New Delhi and Islamabad, especially as it came at a time when both countries have shown no signs of being able to agree on anything
Close
ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)
ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)

The benefits of privatisation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:32 AM IST
It can help the State to reassign funds, monetise its assets, and improve the competitiveness of firms
Close
India’s benchmark inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), stayed above the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance zone continuously between April and November 2020. This inflationary phase was driven by a spike in food prices, and it has ended with a collapse of the same from December. (MINTPHOTO)
India’s benchmark inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), stayed above the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance zone continuously between April and November 2020. This inflationary phase was driven by a spike in food prices, and it has ended with a collapse of the same from December. (MINTPHOTO)

Keep an eye on global commodity inflation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:33 AM IST
Recent movement in global commodity prices suggests that we could be heading for a long-term rally after a benign run, followed by a collapse during the pandemic.
Close
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

A welcome step on vaccination | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
t is important that India leverages its relative success against Covid-19 to equip its citizens in the face of a race against time against a possible second wave. Wednesday’s decision by the Union Cabinet marks a step in the right direction
Close
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)

In defence of personal liberty | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
Beyond the particulars of this case, the Delhi sessions court judgment is welcome. It did well in standing up for citizen rights
Close
There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)
There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)

On China, the trade dilemma

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
One key reason the US has struggled to deal with an aggressive China is precisely its economic web of interdependence with China. India must continue to do business with China, but on better terms, without compromising its interests.
Close
The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Secure India’s digital infrastructure

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
These incidents bring into focus problems that independent researchers have flagged for long — inadequate recognition of threats, a digital infra erected without adequate safeguards, endemic lack of awareness of safe practices, and a threat and vulnerability response mechanism that is far from dynamic.
Close
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)

In Puducherry, a political crisis | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
In Puducherry, on Monday, the Congress government, led by chief minister V Narayanasamy, lost power
Close
Last year, the Capital saw its most horrific violence after 36 years (AFP)
Last year, the Capital saw its most horrific violence after 36 years (AFP)

A year on, Delhi riot victims await justice | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
There has to be an independent examination of what happened last February and the law will have to take its course without considering political affiliations and victims will have to be provided justice
Close
The migrant crisis, triggered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, saw, according to official figures, over 10 million migrant workers returning home. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
The migrant crisis, triggered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, saw, according to official figures, over 10 million migrant workers returning home. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)

Providing migrant workers a political voice

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 06:56 PM IST
The economy has been opening up and many migrant workers have started going back to their jobs, but this issue must not be relegated to the margins. It’s time migrant workers get the respect, protection and rights they are entitled to as citizens.
Close
Democracies must work together to hold big tech firms accountable and preserve the basic building blocks of open, informed societies. India must follow suit. (Getty Images)
Democracies must work together to hold big tech firms accountable and preserve the basic building blocks of open, informed societies. India must follow suit. (Getty Images)

Australia is on the right path

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:34 AM IST
Australia’s decision to take on big tech firms and adopt a principled stand on the issue is welcome. And so is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — where, according to the Australian readout, Mr Morrison spoke of the progress in the media-related legislation
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP