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This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

September 25, 2011

The Sky (Lab) is falling


In the summer of 1979, a kind of hysteria gripped my neighborhood. For a non precocious 8 year old it appeared to be the end of the world. All thoughts similar to 2012 were being conjured up, and as a part of a small motley crowd of youngsters i was particularly an impressionable kid then. For days on end this group would animatedly talking of a thing called ‘Skylab’ - a huge monster up in space that was about come crashing down to earth in a fiery ball. But the catch was this; the Skylab of all places could most probably fall in India and a sure shot destination would be my hometown (Belgaum). 

Maybe the hysteria was fueled by the fact that until the final hours nobody (including the Americans) had a clue where it would eventually fall. And in its orbital path lay some of the world's most populous areas, including all of the U.S., much of Europe, India and China.

The 77 ton monster did come crashing down, and due to miscalculation error it landed in western Australia rather than south Africa. The size of this space station - about 9 stories tall had fueled all kinds of wild stories then… a period when there was no 24 Hours live television or  internet streaming , word of mouth (call rumour in this case) was a powerful tool then, and  this group made me believe that it was indeed a time for a  prayer and bid goodbye. 

The chances of getting hit by a debris weighing upto 90 Kgs from a falling space satellite, it has now been estimated, is  2,50,000 time more unlikely than  humans winning a lottery

As news of a similar event appeared in newspapers today (6 tonne NASA satellite falls on earth, place unknown), I cant help but chuckle at the thought of it being such a non event. On second thoughts maybe the world is such a noisier & turbulent place now and amidst all this deluge of information, a wondrous event like this does not evoke the same kind of awe and wild imagination as it did in the summer of 1979.
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