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Cracks in Earth's Magnetic Shield

Some ardent astrophysics lovers may already know that the Earth is surrounded by a magnetic force field- a bubble in space called 'the magnetosphere' tens of thousands of miles wide. Again, although many people don't know it exists, the magnetosphere is familiar. It's a far flung part of the same planetary magnetic field that deflects compass needles here on Earth's surface. And it's important. The magnetosphere acts as a shield that protects us from solar storms.

According to new observations from satellites, however, immense cracks sometimes develop in Earth's magnetosphere and remain open for hours. This allows the solar wind to gush through and power stormy space weather.

The solar wind is a fast-moving stream of electrically charged particles (electrons and ions) blown constantly from the Sun. The wind can get gusty during violent solar events, like coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which can shoot a billion tons of electrified gas into space at millions of miles per hour.

Our magnetic shield takes the brunt of space storms, but some energy slips through its cracks, sometimes enough to cause problems with satellites, radio communication, and power systems.

Earth's magnetosphere also generally does a good job of deflecting the particles and snarled magnetic fields carried by CMEs. Even so, space storms and their vivid effects, like auroras which light up the sky over the Polar Regions with more than a hundred million watts of power, have long indicated that the shield was not impenetrable.

In 1961, Jim Dungey of the Imperial College, United Kingdom, predicted that cracks might form in the magnetic shield when the solar wind contained a magnetic field that was oriented in the opposite direction to a portion of the Earth's field. In these regions, the two magnetic fields would interconnect through a process known as 'magnetic reconnection', forming a crack in the shield through which the electrically charged particles of the solar wind could flow.

In 1979, Goetz Paschmann of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany detected the cracks using the International Sun Earth Explorer (ISEE) spacecraft. However, since this spacecraft only briefly passed through the cracks during its orbit, it was unknown if the cracks were temporary features or if they were stable for long periods.

In new observations, the Imager for Magnetopause to Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) satellite revealed an area almost the size of California in the arctic upper atmosphere where a 75-megawatt proton aurora flared for hours.

A proton aurora is a form of Northern Lights caused by heavy solar ions striking Earth's upper atmosphere, causing it to emit ultraviolet light- invisible to the human eye but detectable by the Far Ultraviolet Imager on IMAGE.

The fact that IMAGE was able to view the proton aurora for more than 9 hours implies that the crack remained continuously open. Researchers estimate that the crack was twice the size of Earth at the boundary of our magnetic shield--about 38,000 miles (60,000 km) above the planet's surface.

Since the magnetic field converges as it enters the Earth in the Polar Regions, the crack shrank down near the upper atmosphere.

Fortunately, these cracks don't expose Earth's surface to the solar wind. Our atmosphere protects us, even when our magnetic field doesn't.

The effects of solar storms are felt mainly in the high upper atmosphere and the region of space around Earth where satellites orbit. So, what do get from the magnetic cracks in these lower regions? Well, the answer shouldn't be too disappointing- a phenomena of beautiful sparkling auroras!

By Synergie

Intricacies Of The Chittagong Port.

I am sure that many of us are aware of the fact, that any country?s port has a big role to play in that respective country?s economy. This is because major maritime transactions of a country take place via Sea Port and like all other countries of the world, Chittagong Port is also an intricately developed area, which satisfactorily succeeds in carrying out the various transactions required.

Being intricate and complicated, Chittagong Port also has an extremely fascinating history. The history of Chittagong Port dates back to the 4th Century. According to history, this port had sufficient trade and was important enough to attract fleet from the Middle East ports, China and other South Eastern countries. The Arabs and Yemeni traders landed at the Chittagong Port in the 9th century. During the 16th century, the Portuguese took great interest in the locality around Chittagong, then popularly known as the ?Porte Grande?. However the present location of the Chittagong Port was established in the year 1887 and by 1910, four jetties were constructed to handle 0.5 million tons of cargo annually. The 1971 Bangladesh liberation set a new trend in the external trade, and this was how Chittagong Port Authority came into its present existence and the cost of overall investment of people?s money over the years along with it?s face value costs over hundred billions of US Dollars. A Chairman (Chief Executive) and not more than four other members head the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA). Exhausting, isn?t it?

Chittagong port deals mainly with the import and export of various items, which constitute over 70% of, total international trade of Bangladesh.

IMPORT: Food grain, Cement, Cement clinker, sugar, salt, fertilizer, general cargo, iron materials, chemicals, coal, edible oil, etc.

EXPORT: Jute and jute products, animal hides and skins, tea, naphthalene, molasses, frozen foods, garments, knitwear, fertilizers, etc.

Why indeed is trading through ships so totally popular? The obvious answer is that the cheapest mode of cargo transportation is transport through water and so evidently the most satisfying financially. Countries like Nepal and Mongolia are not that privileged in case of having access to water transport and thus have to revert to other forms of transport ? Rail, Road, Air, etc. In this case, Bangladesh seems to be one of the many blessed countries by nature.

I guess the next question that often does spring to mind is why Chittagong is more commonly known as the ?port city?, whereas other places i.e. Mongla could be just as efficient. The logical answer is that Mongla is a river port with complicated river route connecting to sea, whereas Chittagong is connected to the sea with shortest & easiest water route. Also, Mongla has no railway connection, thus having no distribution method of cargoes when loaded or unloaded to & from Ship. On the other hand Chittagong has better inland transportation facilities ? thus we can unquestionably say the term ?Trade, Trader and Trading? definitely begins from here.

The Chittagong Port being Semi-Govt. body is a ?Service Oriented Port? and not profit oriented. Pay roll, accounts and Billing are done using Computers. Massive computer training is given to Officers and staff, along with a supply of approximately hundred personal computers. All the 15 Heads of Departments have Internet connections. An Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Dhaka has been in operation since 1987, with an annual handling capacity of around 80,000 tonnes . At present, one Container train runs daily each way between Chittagong Port and Dhaka ICD. Bangladesh railway is considering introduction of another train running daily from either side.

The Chittagong Port Authority maintains a full-fledged Fire Fighting Unit within the jetty premises with modern equipment to combat fire. The sheds, warehouses and the yards are provided with sprinklers, hydrant system with different types of fire extinguishers and fire buckets. Adequate facilities are present to deal with fires on marine vessels too and any such emergencies.

The Security Department takes care of the various security issues of the port. Yet, it seems to suffer from a ?significant setback?. ?We don?t have any mechanism to ensure that no illegal or contraband items are going out or coming in?, comments Lt. Col. Md. Sarwar Shahid, Director Security. He mentions that- due to time factor and easier facilitation to importers & exporters, only about 30% of break up import cargoes and only 5% or less full load container cargoes are checked. This is hardly reliable, as no one can be unconditionally trusted. There are plans of setting up a reliable cargo and vehicle scanning system in the near future.

Rumors have been floating around in the past that the existence of a new port was required to manage and handle the ever-increasing number of vessels and containers. Yet, for now anyways, those rumors can be laid to rest, as Chittagong Port?s future plans include the construction of a New-mooring Container Terminal (NCT) : a project for construction of a Container Terminal having 5 berths of 1 km length and 22 hectors back up facilities is in progress. It is expected to be completed by December 2005. On completion of this vital project, the total container handling capacity of the Port would be around 1 million TEU?s Containers (having length of 20 feet). Lt. Col. Shahid also mentions that after this, there will be no need for the presence of any other private port. Well, it surely seems that the Chittagong Port is going to be with us for a long long time to bring enormous financial benefits to the country & people.

By Jennifer Ashraf.

Campus news

Sunbeams celebrates its 30th Anniversary

The 15th of January was a day which all the members of the Sunbeams family will find hard to forget. On this day the
school celebrated its 30th birthday amidst great festivities. The school premises were decorated with balloons, streamers and large colourful banners carrying the school's logo. The day's programme comprised of a Milad, a grand lunch for all and an electrifying concert.

The ceremony started with a recital from the Holy Quran, followed by a few melodious religious songs sung by the students. A speech was delivered on the school's journey from its inception to the present. Then all the students and teachers raised their hands in prayer to the Almighty to thank Him for all that Sunbeams has achieved so far and to pray for the prosperity of Sunbeams in the future. After the Milad, the chairperson of Sunbeams Ms. Niloufer Manzur addressed the gathering. She recalled the first memories of Sunbeams and expressed her gratitude towards all the teachers and staff for their support and cooperation. Then, amidst a chorus of "Happy Birthday", the principal, academic advisor and other senior teachers lit thirty candles and cut a huge cake.

After lunch, the much-awaited concert started. Some of the students of Class Ten got together and presented this concert as "birthday gift" to Sunbeams, showing their immense love for their school and their pride in being part of the Sunbeams family.

The show opened with Ariqa Sattar, who marvelled everyone with her unique talent at playing the sitar. The melodious tune of her sitar completely spellbound the audience. This was followed by a well-known patriotic song, "Ei Padma, Ei Meghna". After this, the first band of the show, "Six Days to Friday" came onto stage. Their marvellous performance was complimented profusely! They started off with the lulling tunes of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Then came "Fade to Black," followed by the even more enthusiastically applauded famous song by "Black" called "Amra," They then did the well loved Bryan Adams song "Summer of '69,"where Ariba gave back up vocals. They ended their fascinating performance with a "Happy Birthday" song for Sunbeams. The amazing voices of the talented vocalists Raseen, Farhan, Tanjeb and Ariba coupled with the enthusiastic and remarkable performances of the drummers Noweid and Eid and bassist Farhan was certainly splendid.

The next band to perform, going by the name of "Obhishap," certainly did not "curse" the event, but definitely made it more enjoyable. They started off with one of their own compositions. Then they performed Cryptic Fate's "Lobher Agun," which they played instrumental. They also sang "Enter Sandman," This was then followed by "Nothing Else Matters," which was again played instrumental. Their last song was "Adbhut Shei Cheleti-2" by Aurthohin. Obhishap certainly created a stir among the crowd and towards the end, almost everyone stood up to cheer heartily for them. The lead guitarist Shudipto, rhythm guitarist Akil, drummer Daiyan and bassist Nadir did an amazing job with their instruments, while the vocalists Aasim, Zu-ul-Quarnaine and Nabil certainly did justice to songs they sang.

Overall, this celebration was quite a thrilling experience for the students and teachers alike.

By Nusrat and Rohini

Foundation Day observed at Dawn Grammar School

DAWN Grammar School celebrated their Foundation Day at the school premises at Gulshan 2, on January 9, 2004. The parents and guardians of the students attended the
programme, which included a March-past, and a physical demonstration by the students.

Yasmeen Sadique, the Principal, spoke about the different activities of the various school clubs, houses, as well as academic programmes. She described the present state of the school, and outlined her plans for the future, thanking the audience. The daylong programme also included a cultural function, a Fun Fair, and a Raffle Draw.

Radiant International School holds annual sports day

RADIANT International School holds Annual School Sports Day, 2004 .The teachers and students of Radiant International School, Dhaka, organised their annual school sports-2004 last 15 January at the Women's Sports Complex, Dhanmondi, Dhaka.

The annual daylong event was well attended by the parents, guardians, teachers and the students. Students from different classes took part in various sports events and were vociferously cheered on by the enthusiastic spectators.

The sports event was rounded off with the rendering of popular songs sung by some teachers of the school. The Principal of the school, Dr. Nazma Yeasmeen Haque, later gave away prizes to the winners.

A Night with Ghosts

This is a story about a haunted house where no one lived. Many people used to tell that the family that lived at that house were dead in the period of liberation movement of Bangladesh and they all became ghosts. The youngest girl of that family was supposed to marry a man who was an officer of Army. His name was Ali. He was a Freedom Fighter in the war and he didn't know that his fiancée's whole family was dead.

Well, after the war was over Ali went to that house. He knocked on the door and it was opened by his fiancée, Lucky. Ali never knew that it was a haunted house and everybody in that house was a ghost. Then everybody welcomed Ali. They all acted like normal humans. They all ate and drank really well and had a great time feasting and having fun with Ali without him ever guessing that they were ghosts.

At midnight they went to bed and slept. When Ali woke up he saw no one at the house. He became worried and was searching for everybody. Then he went out of the house where there was a big pond. As Ali went to the shore of the pond he saw a man at the other side shouting at him not to go near the haunted house. He implored Ali to leave.

Ali turned around back and saw that the whole house was a wreck and it was burned. He lost his senses at the sight. The man who warned him took him to the hospital and saved him. After Ali was feeling well again the man took Ali to the house when it was almost 10 o' clock at morning. Then Ali understood the whole story thinking that he had spent a whole night with ghosts slowly drove him insane.

By Rongan Md Mehdi

God's gift of rainbows

The falling rain dissolves into midst
And the thunder begins to die
As the sporadic lightning fades
An arch of color pours from the sky.
Rainbows appear after mighty storms
When things look their worst
Just when the sky is at it's darkest grey,
Out of Heaven does a rainbow burst.
God first sent the rainbow to Noah
As a sign that His word is true
The rainbow's eternal message
Still speaks to me and you.

The rainbow is a sign of God's promise
That He will guide us through any storm
That He will ease all our troubles
No matter what their form.
When you feel tossed about by life's storms
And you are filled with doubt and dismay
Just remember God's rainbow is coming
For it's blessing you have only to pray.

By Suravi





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