Google celebrates 18th birthday with a doodle


Google is a star, and at least in its birthday date, it is a Bollywood star or even a Gen. V.K. Singh, former Chief of Army Staff.  It is so because, as late as 2013 Google itself admitted that it is not exactly sure of its birthdate, but will stick to 27 September for record,

As such, Google has celebrated its birthday on at least four days in September: the 7th, the 8th, the 26th and the 27th.  That is not counting when the Google.com domain itself was registered which was more an year earlier, on 16 Sep 1997.  .Or its first Doodle which appeared on 30 Aug 1998.

But officially, Google has adopted 27 Sep as its birthday and so has released a Doodle for its 18th one.  So, Google is an adult, and hopefully will not censor anymore adult content in blogs, YouTube, or its other services.

Here is the Doodle celebrating Google’s 18th birthday.  It is an animated GIF.

googles-18th-birthday.
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Sydney saved Madras from Emden of Qingdao


Today 22 September marks the 102 anniversary of an incident which reads like an Alistair MacLean maritime-world war novel.  It happened during The Great War or World War I as was called later.

On 22 Sep 1914, the German Light Cruiser SMS Emden let loose a barrage on the City of Madras.  She fired 130 rounds with her 105 mm (4.1 in) naval guns, targeting the Oil Tanks in the Port of Madras, and the old Light House which was situated at the present site of Madras High Court.

The Bombardment of Madras shook the then population, and many evacuated from the city, fearing the return of the Emden.  The German Light Cruiser, named for the City of Emden, was laid down in 1906 and was commissioned in 1909.

In 1914, she was based at the German leased Chinese Territory around Qingdao (Tsingtau).  In August, Japan entered the WW1 in alliance with Triple Entente (later called Allied Powers), against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire.  The German East Asia Squadron withdrew from Qingdao to attempt a breakthrough to Germany via South America, but Emden was detached to act as independent raider.

Thus, SMS Emden was let loose in the Bay of Bengal and adjoining Indian Ocean.  In her 3 month career as raider, SMS Emden accounted for more than 70,000 GRT of shipping, cruising over 30,000 nautical miles (56,000 km).  She single handed brought down the exports from the Bay of Bengal region by more than 60%.

On 9 Nov 1914, SMS Emden met her match in HMAS Sydney at the Battle of Cocos. HMAS Sydney let loose 670 rounds with her 152 mm (6 in) naval guns, scoring over 100 hits.  SMS Emden was forced to breach to save her crew, and ended the terror of the people of Madras.

Thus we have the Tale of Three Cities stretched across 3 continents, and a very small monument pointed out by my father in 1977-78 in the walls of Madras High Court. 

Interestingly, today, in 2016, there are no naval ships named after Emden or Sydney.  The last Emden was the Bremen class frigate F210, decommissioned in 2013.  The last Sydney was the Adelaide class frigate decommissioned in 2015. 

But there is the INS Chennai, a Kolkata class destroyer, the first ship to be named after Chennai, and set to be commissioned later this year.  There is also Qingdao, a Luhu class destroyer of the PLAN.

Another interesting thought is that the present INS Chennai or the future namesakes of Chennai, Emden, and Sydney meet, they will do so as a part of combined Allied Battle Group and hunt the present or future Quindao.

Since there are no go decent images of INS Chennai, here is instead a photo of ICGS flotilla based in Chennai.  The OPVs have been identified by their Pennant Numbers.  Image from Indian Coast Guard website. Some interesting pictures from the archives of The Hindu [http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/discovered-pictures-of-madras-after-emden-struck/article3804481.ece]

indian-coastguard-ships-formation

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Wish everyone a Happy Onam


Though on the eve of Kerala’s most important festival, the BJP president’s greeting has people in the state up in arms, it is time to wish everyone, especially the people of Kerala, a Happy Onam.

Onam is a major festival in Kerala commemorating the homecoming of the mythological figure Mahabali. Mahabali, also known as Maveli, was an Asura king, under whose rule, according to the dominant belief connected with the festival, the people lived in utmost prosperity and were treated equally. The success of Mahabali as a good and powerful ruler made even the ‘Devas’ envious of him, prompting Vishnu taking on the form of Vamana, a Brahmin boy, one of his avatars, and approaching Mahabali. The mythological story says Vamana cunningly ended the rule of Mahabali, a King the people loved. But it is believed that the King would come from the nether world to visit his people annually. So people make their best preparations to receive their beloved King, according to the popular belief. Interestingly, though connected to Hindu mythology, Onam is observed and celebrated by a section of Christians and Muslims in the state. Flower carpet and Onam special lunch are some of the most popular and secular forms of Onam celebrations in which Keralites, irrespective of their faith, often participate. (this para shamelessly copied from thewire.in article on the subject).

Leaving aside the controversies, for which the BJP is famous for, what does one do, when wakes up early in the morning and cannot go back to sleep.  Such was today, when I woke up at around 04:00 AM and could not go back to sleep.

Then the brainwave.  A poo-kolam or kolam with flowers on the occasion of Onam.  Here is the snapshot of the first amateur try at poo-kolam.

happy-onam-poo-kolam

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India launches GSLV F05 with indigenous cryogenic engine


At 16:50 IST today, 08 September 2016, India successfully launched the 1st operational flight of the GSLV Mk2 rocket, with an indigenous cryogenic engine, deploying a 2200 kg INSAT 3DR satellite as payload  The cryogenic’ tag comes from the fact that hydrogen and oxygen are both cooled to cryogenic or ‘very low’ temperatures so that they become liquids and start flowing as gas, once the engine is ignited.

To understand what is cryogenic, imagine it as the standard kitchen LPG gas cylinder – the ‘Liquefied Petroleum Gas’ or LPG is actually stored as a liquid, till it starts flowing up into the gas stove or range as a gas to cook the food.  In the GSLV cryogenic stage, they help propel the rocket and its payload.

Why is cryogenic important?  To put it simply, rocket fuels are stored as solid or liquid..  The solid fuel in a rocket – think of your Deepavali rocket – is easy to manufacture, store, move and fire quickly.  The fuel does not flow, but is easier to manufacture, store, and manage.  Liquid fuels do flow, and release more energy, but are difficult to store, and the storage/engine technology itself is very difficult to master.

But for a nation with hopes in space flight, and manned missions, mastering liquid fuel technology is essential – for the simple reason that liquid fuel rockets – from huge Saturn 5, Ariane 5/6, Chang Zheng (Long March) 7, GSLV Mk 2/3 to small thrusters on astronaut space suits for Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) – can be switched on and off and on again.  This switch on-off-on function cannot be done with solid fuels.

Thus, unless a nation masters cryogenic engine technology, it cannot hope to venture ‘where no human has gone before’.

So, here is the snapshot of the spectacular launch of the GSLV Mk 2 F05 carrying the 2.2 ton INSAT 3DR satellite as its payload.

gslv-f05-insat-3dr-launch-08-sep-2016-isro

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Teachers Day 2016 Google Doodle


Today, 5 Sep 2016 is not only Ganesh Chaturthi, but also the Teacher’s Day in India.  India is the 2nd country in the world to officially dedicate a Teacher’s Day since 1962, on 5 September of every year, in honour of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the 2nd President of India (05 Sep 1888 – 13 May 1967).

Teacher’s Day is celebrated on various days in the countries of the world – in honour of their own eminent educator or commemorating an education milestone.  To add to the confusion, the UN has declared 05 October as World Teacher’s Day since 1994,

Whatever the day, Google has an animated pencil Doodle for the Teacher’s Day, in 2016.  This is the same animated Doodle we saw for the National Teacher’s Day in the US. 

Today, Google’s doodle comprises of a bespectacled teacher pencil reading out from a book, while five student pencils follow suit — walking, skipping and jumping. The last tyke pencil is also inverted, with its writing tip down, while all others have it for their head.

Doodle artist Nate Swinehart had made the animated work to honour teachers “who’ve dedicated their lives to moulding a thoughtful, compassionate generation of citizens. And to making sure everyone does their homework”.

Yikes, he wants us to do “homework” – the dreaded word on a extended weekend.  Isn’t it a practice, Teacher’s Day or not to wake up in the morning of school day, and cry about the incomplete homework?

Here is the animated Google Doodle for Teacher’s Day – as a GIF.

teachers-day-google-doodle-2016

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Elephant in the home during Pillayar Chaturthi


So, today was Ganesh Chaturthi or Pillayar Chaturthi – the celebration of the birthday of the elephant headed God. And here is a snap shot of the clay Vinayaka which came to me home this Ganesh or Pillayar Chaturthi.

elephant-in-home-ganesh-chaturthi

Wish everyone is blessed with the Lord’s indulgence.

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