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Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve, a tumultuous year of assassinations, riots and war drew to a close in heroic and hopeful fashion with the three Apollo 8 astronauts reading from the Book of Genesis on live TV as they orbited the moon.
To this day, that 1968 mission is considered to be NASA’s boldest and perhaps most dangerous undertaking. That first voyage by humans to another world set the stage for the still grander Apollo 11 moon landing seven months later.
There was unprecedented and unfathomable risk to putting three men atop a monstrous new rocket for the first time and sending them all the way to the moon. The mission was whipped together in just four months in order to reach the moon by year’s end, before the Soviet Union.
There was the Old Testament reading by commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders.
Lastly, there was the photo named “Earthrise,” showing our blue and white ball — humanity’s home — rising above the bleak, gray lunar landscape and 240,000 miles (386 million kilometers) in the distance.
Humans had never set eyes on the far side of the moon, or on our planet as a cosmic oasis, surrounded completely by the black void of space. A half-century later, only 24 U.S. astronauts who flew to the moon have witnessed these wondrous sights in person.
The Apollo 8 crew is still around: Borman and Lovell are 90, Anders is 85.
To Lovell, the journey had the thrill and romance of true exploration, and provided an uplifting cap for Americans to a painful, contentious year marked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, nationwide riots and protests of the Vietnam War.
The mission’s impact was perhaps best summed up in a four-word telegram received by Borman. “Thanks, you saved 1968.”
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine — who at age 43 missed Apollo — marvels over the gutsy decision in August that year to launch astronauts to the moon in four months’ time. He’s pushing for a return to the moon, but with real sustainability this next go-around.
The space agency flipped missions and decided that instead of orbiting Earth, Borman and his crew would fly to the moon to beat the Soviets and pave the way for the lunar landings to come. And that was despite on its previous test flight, the Saturn V rocket lost parts and engines failed.
“Even more worrisome than all of this,” Bridenstine noted earlier this month, Apollo 8 would be in orbit around the moon on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. “In other words, if there was a failure here, it would wreck Christmas not only for everybody in the United States, but for everybody in the world.”
As that first moon shot neared, Borman’s wife, Susan, demanded to know the crew’s chances. A NASA director answered: 50-50.
Borman wanted to get to the moon and get back fast. In his mind, a single lap around the moon would suffice. His bosses insisted on more.
“My main concern in this whole flight was to get there ahead of the Russians and get home. That was a significant achievement in my eyes,” Borman explained at the Chicago launch of the book Rocket Men last spring.
Everyone eventually agreed: Ten orbits it would be.
Liftoff of the Saturn V occurred on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 21, 1968.
On Christmas Eve, the spaceship successfully slipped into orbit around the moon. Before bedtime, the first envoys to another world took turns reading the first 10 verses from Genesis. It had been left to Borman, before the flight, to find “something appropriate” to say for what was expected to be the biggest broadcast audience to date.
“We all tried for quite a while to figure out something, and it all came up trite or foolish,” Borman recalled. Finally, the wife of a friend of a friend came up with the idea of Genesis.
“In the beginning,” Anders read, “God created the heaven and the Earth …”
Borman ended the broadcast with, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you — all of you on the good Earth.”
On Christmas morning, their spacecraft went around the moon for the final time. The engine firing needed to shoot them back to Earth occurred while the capsule was out of communication with Mission Control in Houston. Lovell broke the nervous silence as the ship reappeared: “Please be informed there is a Santa Claus.”
Back in Houston, meanwhile, a limousine driver knocked on Marilyn Lovell’s door and handed her a gift-wrapped mink stole with a card that read: “To Marilyn, Merry Christmas from the man in the moon.” Lovell bought the coat for his wife and arranged its fancy delivery before liftoff.
Splashdown occurred in the pre-dawn darkness on Dec. 27, bringing the incredible six-day journey to a close. Time magazine named the three astronauts “Men of the Year.”
It wasn’t until after the astronauts were back that the significance of their Earth pictures sank in.
Anders snapped the iconic Earthrise photo during the crew’s fourth orbit of the moon, frantically switching from black-and-white to color film to capture the planet’s exquisite, fragile beauty.
“Oh my God, look at that picture over there!” Anders said. “There’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!”
Before the flight, no one had thought about photographing Earth, according to Anders. The astronauts were under orders to get pictures for potential lunar landing sites while orbiting 70 miles (112 kilometers) above the moon.
“We came to explore the moon and what we discovered was the Earth,” Anders is fond of saying.
His Earthrise photo is a pillar of today’s environmental movement. It remains a legacy of Apollo and humanity’s achievement, said professor emeritus John Logsdon of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, forever underscoring the absence of political borders as seen from space.
Anders wondered then — and now — “This is not a very big place, why can’t we get along?”
Lovell remains awestruck by the fact he could hide all of Earth behind his thumb.
“Over 3 billion people, mountains, oceans, deserts, everything I ever knew was behind my thumb,” he recalled at a recent anniversary celebration at Washington’s National Cathedral.
Astronaut-artist Nicole Stott said the golden anniversary provides an opportunity to
reintroduce the world to Earthrise. She and three other former space travelers are holding a celebration Friday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, 50 years to the day Apollo 8 launched.
“That one image, I think, it just gives us the who and where we are in the universe so beautifully,” she said.
By July 1969, Apollo 8 was overshadowed by Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin moon landing. But without Apollo 8, noted George Washington’s Logsdon, NASA likely would not have met President John F. Kennedy’s deadline of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
Borman and Anders never flew in space again, and Soviet cosmonauts never made it to the moon.
Lovell went on to command the ill-fated Apollo 13 — “but that’s another story.” That flight was the most demanding, he said, “But Apollo 8 was the one of exploration, the one of repeating the Lewis and Clark expedition … finding the new Earth.” (VOA)
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan shares how he feels when people compare him with his father Amitabh Bachchan on the singing reality show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa'. He also requests contestant Rajshree Bag to sing a track 'Bahon Mein Chale Aao' featuring his mother Jaya Bachchan.
Abhishek said after looking at the performance of Rajshree, who is often compared with Lata Mangeshkar on the show, that she reminds him of being compared with his father. "Rajshree, whenever I have got the chance to watch the show, I've seen people compare you to Lata didi. It actually reminded me about how people compare me with my father and ask me how I feel about it."
According to him Amitabh Bachchan is a great actor in the industry and this is what he says to everyone making these comparisons. "My answer to them is that there's no greater actor in this film industry than Amitabh Bachchan and if I'm being compared to him, I am sure I must have done something good."
"Similarly, your voice has a different kind of magic like Lata ji and that's why people are comparing your voice with her. I feel you should always take this as a compliment," he concluded. 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' airs on Saturday and Sunday on Zee TV. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Rajshree Bag
Winters in India have always beckoned for that hot, steaming bowl of tomato and pepper rasam or the mellow, millet based Raab. Certain dishes like sarson ka saag, undhiyu, nimona pulao are winter specialites in the country. Seasonal food has always been an Indian speciality -- we switch our choice in fruits, vegetables, sometimes even grains with the onset of different season. The preference of using specific ingredients during certain climates is visible in our sweets as well. It's common to find local and traditional delicacies made of jaggery, instead of sugar during the winters. Case in point -- the Nolen Gur Rasgulla, a speciality made in Odisha and West Bengal between November to February.
Celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, strongly advocates this need of eating seasonal produce. He says, "The beauty of our food is in our seasonal usage of fruits and vegetables. If you realise, Gajar ka halwa is made aplenty during winters as this is the season when beautiful red carrots hit the market or mango pickle is made during summer, thanks to its availability. Despite people and sometimes, even me, suggesting that we should eat fresh as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables, we do not know what chemicals are sprayed on them to keep them safe while they are growing. When this produce hits the market, there isn't a certifying agency like the FSSAI that will help people understand what vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides and germs and which ones don't. Hence, the onus lies on us to make them safe for consumption. ITC's Nimwash is a good solution."
When it comes to winters, the Chef recommends eating these fruit and vegetables:
* Purple Mogri -- Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country. But you can spot them during the winters in local markets in northern India where women pick them up to make raitas, curries and stir fries. Rich in magnesium, calcium and copper, the vegetable is known to aid people from digestive problems.
Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country, but you can spot them during the winters | Pixabay
* Sweet Potato -- A re-discovered favourite, Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. With its diverse addition in burgers, chips and even chat, the root vegetable is filled with nutrients such as fibres and vitamins.
Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. | Wikimedia Commons
* Avarekalu -- Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. Bangalore is famed for its Averakalu mela during the winter months, where you can find these beans in dosas, Pani puri and even Jalebis! Thronged by crowds from all over the city, the food fest is a gourmand's delight.
Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. | Wikimedia Commons
* Amla -- The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. High in Vitamin C, it is known to be immunity building and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. There are multiple ways to eat Amla -- it is pickled, made into a fruit preserve called as Murraba or even eaten by sprinkling salt over it.
The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. | Pixabay
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: winter, Sanjeev Kapoor, chef, Indian gooseberry, Sweet Potato, Radish pods
Just three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week, when delivered in the morning, can significantly improve declining eyesight, finds a new study. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found there was, on average, a 17 per cent improvement in participants' colour contrast vision when exposed to three minutes of 670 nanometre (long wavelength) deep red light in the morning and the effects of this single exposure lasted for at least a week.
However, when the same test was conducted in the afternoon, no improvement was seen. "We demonstrate that one single exposure to long wave deep red light in the morning can significantly improve declining vision, which is a major health and wellbeing issue, affecting millions of people globally," said lead author, Glen Jeffery from the University College London.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m | Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash
For the study, the team involved a small yet significant number of participants aged between 34 and 70, had no ocular disease, completed a questionnaire regarding eye health prior to testing, and had normal colour vision (cone function). This was assessed using a 'Chroma Test' -- identifying coloured letters that had very low contrast and appeared increasingly blurred, a process called colour contrast.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Their colour vision was then tested again three hours post exposure and 10 of the participants were also tested one week post exposure. On average there was a 'significant' 17 per cent improvement in colour vision, which lasted a week in tested participants; in some older participants, there was a 20 per cent improvement, also lasting a week.
A few months on from the first test (ensuring any positive effects of the deep red light had been 'washed out') few participants, carried out the same test in the afternoon, between 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. When participants then had their colour vision tested again, it showed zero improvement. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Deep red light, therapy, eye sight, study,chroma test