Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, July 3, 2008


By Sabrina F Ahmad

You've seen him around. You'll find him in your class, or right next door. Sometimes you'll spot him on the street, or encounter him on the bus. He's pretty familiar, yet not extraordinary in the least. You might find him really stupid, even though he has his ingenious moments. He is not handsome, and he isn't even charming; far from it, but you instantly feel at home around him. He doesn't have magical powers, and neither does he embark on magical quests, but you can join him as he goes through the mundane but colourful adventure of life. In this city of millions, he's everywhere. He is Babu, the epitome of the typical Dhaka dude. And now he's all yours, in a spiffy all-colour comic book.

Babu, the brainchild of comic artist Sharier Khan, was born in the same year I was, but made his debut in a strip in a publication named “Orbacheen” in 1985. He later shifted to the inner sleeve of the Daily Star, arriving at Rising Stars in 1997, where he has remained since.

The Babu comic books, brought to you by Panjeree Publications, were released at the Ekushay book fair earlier this year, and now you can enjoy all his corny jokes and crazy antics in Bangla. Join him as he evades mastaans and vampires, ogles girls, survives his sister's terrible cooking, and even travels back in time to play Tarzan. The books are yours for Tk 50 a pop, and should be available at Gyankosh.

By Osama Rahman and Fariha Rahman

The Russian Centre of Science & Culture and Bangladesh Astronomical Association jointly organized a show titled 'Tunguska Explosion', in order to observe 100 years since the event that took place on June 30th,1908. The Tunguska Explosion was a disastrous explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai of Russia. The meteorite size remains undetermined but experts place it close to tens of meters across. The meteorite did not exactly hit the earth but burst in the air, 5-10 kilometers above the earth's surface. The energy from the blast was estimated to be 10-15 megatons, reaching as high as 30 megatons, and this is 1000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The impact would've measured 5.0 on a ritcher scale and contributed to destroying over 80 million trees within more than 2150 square kilometers. This impact is thought to be the largest impact even on land in Earth's history.

The show started with a lecture by Sujan Kumar Dev, which began with the causes of meteorites, possible impacts, an overview of the disaster, astronomical consequences and the repercussions of this explosion. It was a very enlightening speech and frightening too. 'If such an explosion happens again mankind would be terribly affected and it would cause large scale destruction' Mr. Dev warned. He also informed that much work was now being carried to predict the next time such an event took place and he estimated 2126 as the year when the next collision was next expected. The event started nations into thinking of asteroid deflection strategies. He also informed us on the works of the Space Guard Foundation, who are responsible for preventing a future disaster, which is looming on the horizon, he cautioned gravely once more. The lecture concluded to applause and then a member of the Bangladesh Astronomical Association took the podium. He welcomed us to join him on a meteorite watching journey, in Dhanmonddi 8, where we would be able to use a telescope to explore the universe properly, thanks to clear skies. Unfortunately due to a flight that I had to catch, I was unable to do so.

Then the video program started where we learnt more about the explosion, the program showing a Discovery Channel feature on the explosion. This documentary took us up close to where the event took place. 'The Siberian Explosion' chronicles the journey of Leonid Kulik, the first Tunguska Explosion investigator, an explosion which send shock waves as far as London and at speeds which could go around the world twice. On June 30th of that year, it was said that the sky was so luminous that the newspaper could be read at night without the help of any artificial light. . Theories of Black Hole, UFOs and wrath of Gods are brought into the light, as the mystery of the explosion yet remains unsolved, as many dispute the explanation put forth. The fascination with this has carried on for a 100 years and tales of the explosion are still spoken in frightened tones and the memories remain vivid, though the original witnesses are very rare. I was surprised to realize that such an event remains unknown to the masses and even I plead guilty of ignorance.

The last part of the intellectual extravaganza was the Photo Exhibition. The opening wing paid tribute to Valentia Tereshkova, the first woman in space. The photos did not only high-light her accomplishments but also provided an insight in her personal life. Upon entering another room, the walls displayed pictures of the magnificent Flight Control Centre of The Russian Army and the awe-inspiring structure of Space Communication Station in Kamchatka. There were also pictures giving information on the Clipper and paying tribute to all women astronauts. A sad aspect was the picture collage of some of the astronauts who met death via pursuing their dream, especially those travelling on the Soyuz. A lot could be learned about the History of Russian Space Program by visiting the exhibition.

Those present learned a lot and gained a renewed interest in Astronomy and also respect for the all-powerful space. As we left feeling humbled and grateful to the brave who have given their lives trying to protect, we also departed with a sense of fear of what may be looming in the future…a disaster impossible to even dream about or comprehend. And thus 100 years ago, we almost tasted the end of the world


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