Space technology today is a result of various inventions, experiments and discoveries over the last 20,000 years.
Human beings have always been fascinated by the world above us and space exploration is the outcome of this curiosity. Indian mythology has examples of a divine vehicle called the Pushpak Vimana which can traverse through space. Indian mythology also refers to different realms in space where different types of people lived such as the Gods, the demons, normal people etc.
The earliest prototype of a rocket has been constructed by Archytas, a Greek philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who built a wooden bird which could fly based on the theory that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, which later came to be known as Newton's 3rd Law.
Centuries later, the Chinese created the 1st working prototypes of rockets by attaching bamboo to arrows filled with gunpowder. When lit, it would launch itself due to the power of the escaping gas. Soon, it was used as a battle machine in war against the Mongols in 1232. Taking inspiration from the design, the Mongols used it in other battles spreading the design to Europe.
After this, rockets were not only used for warfare but by the late 19th century this technology had advanced enough for use to enter the orbit around the earth defying gravity. One of the 3 fathers of Rocketry, Konstanin E. Tsiolkovsky published the rocket equation, a mathematical equation which considers the principles of a device which can accelerate itself by expelling components at high speeds in the opposite direction. This was significant as it was years before the first propelled rocket was launched by Robert Goddard the second father of Rocketry.
The 3rd father Hermann Oberth published a book about how rockets could be sent out of earth’s orbit. He also studied multi-stage rocketry and proposed human spaceflight.
By this time, the Space Race had begun and after many failed attempts, some famous achievements were made including Sputnik (USSR), Explorer 1 (NATO) and Apollo 11 (NATO). On the 31st of January 1958, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed as an American space research centre.
In the future, NASA promises to make progress with research on habitation in Mars asking questions like ‘Can you grow it / make it in space? Can you do your own repairs and maintenance? ‘ (as NASA states) They will also try and answer the question ‘Are we alone ?’ NASA says, ‘as before NASA will adapt solutions to these and other challenges into technology that will improve lives at home.’
While space remains a frontier for mankind to overflow into and establish colonies if earth becomes overcrowded the world today is less focused on space exploration and rocket science than in the last few decades. This is possibly because there have been no further advances in space science since the Space Shuttle, the end of the Space Wars or exciting advancements in electronics and communications. However, we need to invest in Space as that is where the future of mankind lies.
By Anagha Sreeram, 8C
Every year, I always buy a Marie Curie daffodil, usually from one of the volunteers outside Marks and Spencer’s Simply Food in Pinner. As the Great Daffodil Appeal 2019 is soon approaching (March 1- March 31), I started thinking about this article. In light of International Women’s Week around the corner, let me tell you about the amazing lady behind this worthwhile charity: Marie Curie herself.
Born Maria Salomea Sklodowska in Poland 1867, she was introduced to science by her parents who were both teachers. At the time when she was growing up, the government were very strict about what people could and could not study. They imposed a law that girls were not allowed to go to college at all! Marie and her sister went to a secret school, but were constantly tired of hiding from who they truly were and what they wanted to achieve. A talented student, Curie moved to Paris in 1891 to study physics and mathematics. During her time, science was a male domain, but Curie did not let her gender hold her back. She devoted her entire life to the subject, marrying French physicist Pierre Curie along her journey as well.
In my opinion, Marie Curie was an incredibly brave and intelligent pioneer, who helped save so many lives, millions in fact, during World War 1 and all the way to the present day. She discovered two new elements, polonium and radium, which she found could help treat diseases such as cancer. In 1903, her incredible work was noticed, and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. However, years of being exposed to radiation led to her premature death in 1934, which was an historic but unfortunate event in time. Amazingly, her legacy is still continued by the Marie Curie Organization, who rely on donations to send nurses out to care for people with cancer in their own homes, even during the dark hours of night. It is so important that we support causes, such as this one, because many people would not be living today, if it was not for the intelligence and bravery of Curie all those years ago. Her early career treatment discoveries 100 years ago, has paved the way for new and developing treatments for cancer today.
This is why I always feel a sense of pride, wearing my daffodil every year. It inspires me to keep believing that women can do anything they want to, if they just work hard and keep going.
So the next time you see a Marie Curie volunteer selling daffodil pins, put £1 in their collection box and by a daffodil: it really is an altruistic and worthwhile cause to support, and you might just make a difference to one persons’ life.
By Priya Modi, 8N