Fawning over Pluto
Pin drop silence in geography class. Class teacher asked “what is the number of planets in the solar system?” to notorious Shameem. He replied it as eight. The whole class was laughing at him except the class teacher. He explained that Shameem was wrongfully right about the answer. The real fact is recently astronomers have decided that Pluto is no longer a planet now. So there might be a contradiction if you don't know the current astronomical decision. Let's take a flavor of Pluto.
The Declaration: After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is -- and isn't -- a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one. Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.” The decision by the prestigious international group spells out the basic tests that celestial objects will have to meet before they can be considered for admission to the elite cosmic club. For now, membership will be restricted to the eight "classical" planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
General Information: Pluto is a dwarf planet in the solar system, orbiting 29 - 49 AU from the Sun. About a fifth the mass of the Moon, Pluto is primarily composed of rock and water ice. It has an eccentric orbit that is highly inclined with respect to the planets and takes it closer to the Sun than Neptune during a portion of its orbit. Pluto and its largest satellite Charon have often been considered a binary system because they are more nearly equal in size than any of the planet/moon combinations in the solar system, and because the barycentre of their orbits does not lie within either body. Two smaller moons named Nix and Hydra were discovered in 2005.
Pluto and its three known moons. Pluto and Charon are the bright objects in the center; the two smaller moons are at the right and bottom, farther out.
Discovery: In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer, was working on a project searching for a ninth planet at Lowell Observatory. Tombaugh's work was to systematically take pictures of the celestial sky in pairs, one to two weeks apart, then look for objects that had moved between images. On February 18, 1930, Tombaugh discovered a possible moving object on photographic plates taken on January 23 and January 29 of that year. A lesser-quality photo taken on January 20 helped confirm the movement. After the observatory worked to obtain further confirmatory photographs, news of the discovery was telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory on March 13, 1930. Pluto would later be found on photographs dating back to March 19, 1915.
Pluto (bottom right) compared in size to the largest moons in the solar system: Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Io, Earth's Moon, Europa, and Triton.
For Interested Buddies: I know that astronomical articles are bit boring for my teen readers. However, there might be some curious buddies who are eager to learn more. For those I would like to focus more on Pluto.
Discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh
Semi-major axis 5,906,376,272 km
39.481 686 77 AU
Diameter 2306±20 km
(18% of Earth, or
For further information you can visit; http://www.space.com
The miracle of Ramadan
It'S the month of Ramadan again- the time for fasting from dawn to dusk and trying in every way possible to please Allah. Muslims who don't pray even once all year round suddenly start praying five times a day. Qurans that have been lying untouched for ages are opened again and recited with vigor. A great effort is made to stop ourselves from uttering the profanities we have never regretted saying before, to control our previously uncontrollable tempers and to become as good as we can possibly be- all in this one single month.
There can be no doubt about the fact that the Ramadan is very special and a very special event is responsible for making it so- the revelation of the Quran, the miracle of Ramadan. So in this auspicious month let us spend a few moments marveling the miracles within this miracle- the scientific miracles of the Holy Quran.
"Soon We will show them our signs in the (farthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?" (The Quran, 41:53)
Some call it coincidences while others like me call it signs from Allah. Almost everyone, however, is forced to admit that Al-Quran- a book that has remained completely unchanged through all these years and contains the message delivered by our Prophet Muhammed (sallallahualaihuwasalam), an illiterate man, over 1400 years ago- coincides with science on every occasion.
For instance the Quran says that the heavens are being expanded and scientists discover that the universes is expanding. It may have said 'and verily we are contracting it' or 'verily we are leaving it unchanged' but it chose the word 'expanding' which is scientifically accurate. Again, the Quran says that the heavens were once 'one connected entity' and then it was 'broken asunder' and the widely accepted big bang theory states the same thing in scientific terms.
The Quran says living things were made from water. Evolutionists discover that water is necessary for development of life. It says that humans were made from clay and evolutionists come up with 'the clay theory of the origin of life' (this theory is not widely accepted yet). Among all the different materials present in the world out there - wood, stone, gold, iron, fire etc- the Quran spoke of the two, which if used for our creation, won't contradict science. The Quran calls embryo an 'alaqah' which may mean leech, suspended thing or blood clot and it turns out that the embryo resembles each of these things. It says that the embryo later becomes 'mughadah' i.e. chewed substance and we discover the somites formed at the back of the embryo that look like teeth marks.
Al-Quran says that mountains prevent the earth from shaking and scientists claim that mountains stabilize the earth. It compares mountains to pegs and the analogy only starts making complete sense when we consider the roots of mountains. The Quran says that there is a partition between two seas. We discover that two seas are in fact separated by their differences in temperature, salinity and density. And that's far from all.
You'll find a concise version of these miracles in: http://www.islamguiden.com /arkiv/miraclesofthequran.swf and a detailed version in: http://www.answering-christianity.com/sci_quran.htm.
What are the chances of all these being random guesses? In my opinion it's zero.
None of these scientific facts were mentioned directly. The reason for this may be, as the answering-christianity site said, that many years ago these would only have raised further controversies. People didn't have any equipment at that time to prove them. So they were left to serve as signs for people as time moved on. As someone said, the Quran is a book of signs not science. Skeptics however are inclined to think that these verses were not meant by the 'author' to refer to these scientific discoveries at all- it's the readers who are drawing far-fetched connections. Well, for them, I'll only quote an ayat from the Quran:
'Say: It is the truth from your Lord. Let anyone who wishes to, believe, and anyone who wishes to, disbelieve.” (The Quran, 18:29)
In this month of Ramadan let all of us Muslims thank Allah for blessing us with this wonderful book of guidance and making our task of believing in the Unseen so much easier.
Poetry festival on rights of the child
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) organised a poetry festival on September 27. The event featured the works of twenty of the leading poets in our country, who have come together to compile an anthology of some sixty poems and their English translations on the theme of Child Rights.
The evening was spiced up by an hour and half of sparkling poems by Shamsur Rahman, Asad Chowdhury, Rafiq Asad, Nirmalendu Goon, Muhammad Nurul Huda, Asim Saha, Habibullah Siraji, Shihab Sarkar, Ruby Rahman, Mashruk Chowdhury, Rabiul Hussain, Nasir Ahmed, Zahid Haider, Asad Mannan, Dilara Hafiz, Kamal Chowdhury, Sohrab Hassan, Anjana Saha, Shahnaz Munni and Faruk Mahmud.
Those poets who were present recited from their own works, and the poems covered different aspects of Child Rights, including their right to education, child labour etc.
UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh Louis-Georges Arsenault wrapped up the event with a speech where he expressed his regret at the loss of eminent poet, the late Shamsur Rahman, and also mentioned about the rich cultural heritage of this country, which has spawned so many fertile minds and an abundance of poetry and literature.
A wonderful evening of wit and wisdom, it ended with a sumptuous iftar for all the guests.
By Sabrina F Ahmad
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