Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mr Minister, will Planet X hit Earth?


Heard about the monster planet ‘X’ heading towards Earth at a speed of 20,00,000 miles a year and could hit anytime after 2010? Our MPs have.

On Thursday, this was one of the questions they posed to the government, which found itself at a loss for answers.

An unstarred question put up by Rajya Sabha MPs Rajkumar Dhoot (Shiv Sena) and Naresh Gujral (Shiromani Akali Dal) asked, “Whether it is a fact that planet ‘X’ is heading towards Earth at a speed of 20,00,000 miles a year and may come close or collide with it anytime after 2010 to cause destruction like earthquake and tsunami?”

Apart from details, they wanted the government to enlighten them whether this had any links with the Mayan civilisation calendar and whether the Government was taking any preventive steps.

Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan’s reply was brief: “There is no factual basis for this (question).”

When asked where he got to know about such a planet, Dhoot told The Indian Express: “I saw reports about planet X in some news channels. So I thought I should ask the government.”

Gujral simply said the question was Dhoot’s idea.

Incidentally, the recent Hollywood blockbuster 2012 dealt with life coming to an end on Earth coinciding with a prediction in the Mayan calendar. And, incidentally, this wasn’t the only outer space worry that occupied MPs.

Another question put to the Science and Technology Minister by Congress’s Vijay Jawaharlal Darda and Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, was “whether the government is aware that 32 planets have been found in the solar system, thereby increasing the number of planets discovered outside the solar system to more than 400”.

They wanted the government to give supporting evidence that life could develop elsewhere in the universe and wanted to know whether the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) could include “further pursuance of this syndrome in our forthcoming space projects”.

Of this, Chavan said, the government was well informed.

“Though the number of extra planets discovered is more than 32, most of them do not have the temperature and environment conducive for possible existence of any form of life,” he said.

He also clarified that ISRO couldn’t pursue the matter because of technological problems but that ground-based observations for extra planets are being planned at Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

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