Thursday, September 27, 2007

Destination: Bangalore

Destination: Bangalore
Swapna Dutta
The number of entries in the Limca Book of Records from Southern India is phenomenal. Karnataka has a fair share and there are many that belong to Bangalore. ..

When I first joined the editorial team of the Limca Book of Records more than a decade ago, one of the first things that impressed me was the number of entries from Southern India. Karnataka has a fair share and there are many that belong to Bangalore itself.

Those of you who know about them already, might like to know the details. Those who don't, might be interested in learning how frequently our City features among "Indian Records". Here are a few related to science and scientific development.

Did you know, for instance, that the first international technology park was set up in Bangalore in 1994 that provided all kinds of facilities for global and domestic companies dealing with electronics, telecom, computer hardware and software? Or that Avinash A Deshpande of Raman Research Institute, Bangalore, and Joanna M Ranklin of University of Vermont, USA, created a weather map of radio-signal-emitting storms, occurring on a pulsar in 1999?

Bangalore has the honour of housing the first-ever space organisation in the country. Government of India had set up the Space Commission and the Department of Space in June 1972.

Under this department, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bangalore, executes India's space programmes through it’s establishments, located in different parts of the country. The ISRO has many centres, of which, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, functions as one of the main centres for research and development in space technology.

To Bangalore also goes the credit of creating the first intelligent robot. It was the scientists at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Bangalore, who first built an intelligent robot with stereo vision. The robot could navigate by itself avoiding obstacles, just like a human being. It was battery-driven, with two cameras to provide it with binocular vision.

Now for another scientific development, Dr Subita Srimal of Manukirti Biogems Co in Bangalore, had developed a process to fashion a chemical re-agent, used for checking drips and syrups for contamination, from the blood of the horseshoe crab in 1998. This lab chemical was supposed to be 60 per cent cheaper than imported ones.
R Rajamohan of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, and his team had discovered an asteroid (No 4130) through the optical telescope at Kavalur, Tamil Nadu, in 1988. The asteroid is now called "Ramanujam" in memory of the great Indian mathematician.

J C Bhattacharya and Kuppuswamy, also of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, had discovered rings of the planet Uranus in 1976, also at the Vainu Bappu Observatory at Kavalur, Tamil Nadu. Incidentally, James Elliot and his team had also made this same discovery around the same time aboard the airborne Kuiper Observatory.

V K Gaur from the Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation, National Aerospace Laboratory, Bangalore, invented in 1959 the host rock effect that produces anomalous electric and magnetic fields in a geological body buried in a partially conducting host. Also, Rajat Varma and Satyajit Mayor of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, discovered tiny rafts on cell surface, transporting a kind of proteins just like the way rafts carry people across the river. This phenomenon of "rafting" observed for the first time in living cells is a medically significant discovery. Ladies, please note, Parvathi Gopal of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bangalore, is the first woman aerospace doctor, recorded in the Limca Book of Records.

Yet another significant contribution by this City. Green Universe, Bangalore, launched www.greenuniverse.com on December 1, 1998, the first dedicated online forum for information on AIDS. A repository of information, resources, advice and counselling support, the forum provides this service free of cost. And of course, all of you must remember Bangalore-born Sabeer Bhatia of hotline fame.


(The author was part of the editorial team Limca Book of Records from 1994-99 and later, one of their consultants)

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