Dr. Hafeez Hoorani – The One from CERN

Interior of Particle Accelerator at CERN

-by Muhammad Sanan Khan

In a country which is taking its nascent steps in the world of science, Dr. Hafeez Horaani is one of the pioneers in this world for our country.

Hailing from Karachi, he is a particle physicist, with a specialization in accelerator physics, and a research scientist at the CERN. Nowadays, Mr. Hoorani works at the National Center for Physics, with research focus in elementary particle physics and high energy physics.

Dr. Hafeez Horaani is certainly among the league of the top scientists of our country for all his works and accomplishments. His efforts to make Pakistan a part of CERN are highly commendable and they are a big push forward for the country.

What is CERN? CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research bent on seeking answers related to the origin of humankind such as; what is the universe made of? How did it start? Using some of the world’s most powerful particle accelerators.

Dr. Hoorani joined CERN in 1989 and due to his efforts, in 2000, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (led by nuclear physicist Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad) signed an agreement with CERN. This agreement opened the door for Pakistani physicists to collaborate with CERN’s particle physics project.

Our country needs more men like Dr. Hoorani so that in the race to win the world with science and technology our country can make a mark of its own. More power to you, Mr. Hoorani and to PAKISTAN. Ciao till next time.

Dr. Naveed Syed – The Inventor of the Bionic Chip

Dr. Naveed Syed with his bionic chip
Dr. Naveed Syed with his bionic chip

-by Ayesha Kaleem

The concept of human mechanization is always trending among the scientific and non-scientific communities worldwide. The science fiction genre has kept fandoms on their toes for decades producing movies like I-Robot and The Six Million Dollar Man.

The hybrid of man and robot is a fascinating idea which is in its early steps to materialization. Yes, a bionic robot can indeed become a possibility. Scientists have worked their way into fusing brain cells with a computer microchip! This opens up numerous horizons and is a big scientific breakthrough!

We can proudly say that the leading scientist behind this achievement is one of our own. Dr. Naveed Syed, working in the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute has created the neurochip. He has made a way possible for us to know the communication between a tissue and an electronic device. The professor explained the phenomena as;

“It used to be like seeing two people talking at a distance. … You didn’t know what they were saying or even what language they were speaking. But now it’s like putting a microphone beside them,”

This discovery has started a flux of drug testing research for neurodegenerative diseases and disorders. A new set of clinical trials are in progress.  The electrical signaling in brain cells can be studied in detail with this technology. The brain cells of a patient suffering from epilepsy have been studied. The brain cell activity can be studied in powerful detail now. All the results and findings can then be stored in a database for further research.

This contribution to science is indeed a magnanimous one. Dr. Naveed Syed has made a name for Pakistan and contributed not only to the field of scientific research but also a big deal to our medical and pharmaceutical industries.

The 53 year old Scientist says and I quote;

“A lot of people still think bionics is science fiction. It’s not. It’s already here.”

Dr. Bashir Syed: The Solar Physicist from Pakistan

-by Zohaa Wajid

The phrase a Pakistani working at NASA commands our attention since it is not an everyday occurrence. Indeed, Dr. Bashir Syed was not ordinary.

Hailing from Pakistan, being a dedicated student, he made his way to the US with a Fulbright scholarship, earning a Doctorate of Science in Solar Physics. It is an interesting fact that he studied at and later taught at DJ Sindh Science College where Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan happened to be his student.

After a while in the US, he had the honour of becoming a part of NASA as a solar physicist. He played a pivotal role in the United States Space Program throughout the course of the project. Later, he worked in the Space Shuttle Modification Programme to keep the shuttle technologically superior. Moreover, he was involved in NASA’s work to build space probes. Being an expert on cosmic and solar radiation, he was assigned to look over the adverse effects of space radiation on space craft. As a result, he was a key player in the evolution and building of Mars Pathfinder. Towards the end of his career in NASA, he was engaged in the United States Mercury project where he studied and researched on solar-produced plasma.

Even after leaving NASA, he did not leave it. Founding his company EnerTech Enterprises, he continued to support NASA’s Mars Project by supplying them with cosmic and solar radiation equipment.

Following his retirement, he became a part of Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission where his research in solar physics and astronomy went uninterrupted. During this time, he also trained a handful of Pakistani scientists and engineers in the field of solar technology.

His interests did not just lie in solar physics, he strongly advocated the development of wind and power plants as a solution to the world energy crises. Writing a number of articles on the issue and travelling the world to give lectures on the subject, he hoped his efforts would educate them in ways to design renewable energy projects. Since Pakistan is blessed with sunny days all year round and has areas suitable for harnessing wind energy, he believed this would rid us of obstacles in meeting the energy requirements in Pakistan while leaving the atmosphere unharmed, unlike fossil fuels. To his satisfaction, he was able to able to establish wind power and solar power plants in Pakistan.

As is clear from his life, he was extremely dedicated to his field and his work. Such a spirit is not encountered frequently. The world is grateful for all his efforts in the advancement of space technology and renewable energy.

How Science Can Solve the Multiple Eid Problem in Pakistan

After surviving a month of fasting, swallowing tables in one sitting, and making sure they are not the target of their tailor’s ill-fated blunders, every Pakistani looks forward to celebrating Eid that is peaking right around the corner waiting for the decision regarding the sighting of the moon to be announced. Each year this activity is shrouded with controversy and debate in our country, since Pakistan has been celebrating Eid on multiple days in the recent years due to the inability of the population to rule out false or mistaken testimonies of moon-sighting.ramadan-moon-sighting-1

What is the criteria for declaring the beginning of the new Islamic month? A large majority of Muslim scholars agree that viewing the moon with the naked eye should mark the start of a month for the lunar calendar. Another segment of scholars solely place their trust in calculations and astronomy, feeling there is no need to actually see the moon. It then comes down to our central authority to make this decision.

No matter what view is adopted, Science can help us out a great deal being the unbiased, generously helpful tool it is. First, let’s go over what happens when a new moon is appears in the sky. During the period when the moon is aligned exactly between the sun and the Earth, no light is reflected off the moon for us to see it. This is called the ‘conjunction’ and it marks the birth of a new moon. As the moon continues to orbit the Earth, the angle between the moon and the sun (called the elongation) increases as measured by us on Earth. Doing its business, the moon appears as a crescent in the sky as the elongation increases. However, it can only be visible to the naked eye, reflecting light from the sun, when the elongation is greater than 10.5 degrees. This may occur between 17 to 24 hours after conjunction.Ramadan-Moon-Sighting1-300x267

This is where Science lends us a hand. Experts have developed models and simulations for mapping the position and the appearance of the moon at a certain time which are accurate to a great degree. Even if we don’t solely depend on astronomic calculations to resolve the issue of multiple Eids, we can definitely use them to verify testimonies of the sighting of the moon. Since it is magically possible in this day and age to even have the simulated images of the moon beforehand, false testimonies can be ruled out by comparing them with the expected time and appearance of the moon. Moreover, since the visibility of the moon can be hindered by adverse atmospheric conditions or weather, a person may be mistaken about what they saw. With help from our scientific experts, we can rectify those mistakes.

It has often been the case that our central authority responsible for the sighting of the moon is accused of lying and such when a ‘fat’ crescent is seen the next night, even though the committee relies on Science to a large extent in making its decisions. Most people are unaware of the fact that even if the crescent appears to be a tad on the heavy side, it is very much possible that is still the first sighting of the month. (All moons are beautiful, say no to moon-shaming.) This is because if the moon was aged less than 17 hours on a day, it set without being visible to the naked eye. Hence, we would see a wider crescent the next night because another 24 hours had passed before the unaided eye could claim to see it.Artistic-Creation-The-Crescent-Moon-In-The-Sky

It appears that whatever stance or belief we choose, calculations and models from astronomy can help us make an accurate decision anyway, and thereby unite all of Pakistan into celebrating one Eid. I sincerely hope we can rule out false testimonies this year and follow one central decision. Because Science is the hero we need, and the one we deserve.

By Zohaa Wajid