Night of an occasional insomniac

I am an average human and I often get jealous for all kinds of reasons. At times I get jealous of Elon Musk for being such an awesome serial-entrepreneur or I get jealous of that 67- year lady in our table tennis club who plays better than me and smashes the ping-pong balls like there is no tomorrow!

However last night I was jealous of you, if you happen to be one of those people who can fall asleep as soon as they hit the sack. I felt like those people are the most blessed people in the multiverse regardless of their financial conditions or other material possessions. They at least can sleep at their will.

My occasional insomniac night usually starts like this – I go to bed around 11.30 PM and as soon as I lie on the bed I feel there is something wrong, very wrong! Why on earth I Am feeling so active and energetic at this hour! I am supposed to be tired now, just like when I woke up this morning. Why things are going in reverse? But anyway, I should try to sleep.

12.00 midnight. It’s been already half an hour and why am I still awake? I have work at 8 AM next morning and I need to wake up at 7.18 AM. A normal person needs minimum 6 hours of sleep to be fully functional, but I am an abnormal person and I need minimum 7 hours of sleep to be barely functional. I have 18 more minutes. May slumber bestows upon me its blessing.

Night of an occasional insomniac

12.30 AM. Now I am sure this is going to be one of those nights. Why is it happening to me again? Welcome negativity. It starts small. Why that WordPress plugin in my website is not behaving? Why that colleague at office is not behaving? Hang on, negativity is not going to help, I should think about something positive, something happy. I have a wonderful mom, I have a wonderful Android phone (sorry mom for bringing Android in this), once I had a wonderful vacation in Okinawa….. but how possibly I did that silly mistake at my work today? It was like a junior school level calculation…how and why I did that mistake? Hello, you are thinking negative again…but it’s OK to think about it just for a minute, self-analysis is important. it was a simple percentage calculation where I was supposed to find that variable from the ….

Then the big ones enter the stage, the regrets. Back in 2010 University of British Columbia rejected my MSc application, I really wanted to study there. Thomson Reuters rejected me from the final interview, I really wanted to work there. I failed in cricket, I failed in programming. I failed in becoming a normal average human being.

3 AM. I should have tried spiritual way at least two hours ago. But it’s never too late, let’s pray. Now either I am failing to pray in proper way or God has a different plan, God perhaps will reward me for this prayer another day, another time. Not this time, not tonight. My prayer is not being answered at this very moment. I am wide awake in my train-of-thought. My train-of-thought is running through grief, guilt, regret, repentance and all those barren landscapes. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.

This continues till 7 AM. Then my (last) alarm rings at 7.18 AM. Bad morning.

PS: You thought you are the lone member of occasional insomniac club?

The day I flew

(You can skip to 1:05 if you just want to see the moment of dive :p)

I dived from the sky (they may say I just dived from 4,000 meter altitude but I would still say I dived from the sky :/). They also may say they have acrophobia or fear of heights, they cannot imagine doing skydive; however 4,000 meter is a whole different level of height, it’s far beyond that usual acrophobia they feel looking down from a high-rise building’s balcony or rooftop.

When I look down from a 10-story building rooftop I know if I fall down I will just die, full stop. However, strangely enough, thought of death did not cross my mind  when I was flying in a door-less plane and gazing outside. Yes, they didn’t even bother to have a door in that plane! There was just a hole to get in and out, but nothing to shut or open. Crazy people would jump off from this plane anyway, why bother?! It was an out of this world crazy thing. When I looked down from 4,000 meter, everything looked so calm and quiet. The birds were flying lazily, clouds were floating calmly, tiny cars and buses far below were moving slowly, like an army of ants. It was a peaceful atmosphere all around. How could I die?

Then I dived. There was no going back, just going downward. In the course of next couple of minutes, my life would have one of the Boolean values. TRUE: Still Alive, FALSE: Dead. I was free-falling at 194 km/hour speed. Have you ever seen a car racing at 194 km/hour? I had that speed, but on Y axis.

During the training session, my instructor told me countless number of times; before the jump grip your harness tightly, then after the jump, when I pat on your shoulder three times, leave the harness and extend your hands like a flying bird. Before the jump, I gripped my harness tightly, then after the jump, I forgot everything. He was relentlessly patting on my shoulder and I was thinking, do you really have to do this now, before I finally realized oh shit I am supposed to extend my hands.

Free-falling lasted for 54 seconds, the best 54 seconds of my life. But even in that 54 seconds, the best part was the first 4 or 5 seconds. After the jump, I flipped in 360 degree for twice! What a moment that was! Actually 54 seconds was quite a bit of time. After first 10 seconds or so, I got over the initial shock and started to enjoy the experience. In the video you can see how the wind was distorting my face. That blow of wind was the only thing getting in my way of enjoying that epic moment of life. Then I decided to face it, literally.

There was a bird’s eye view of mountain range and sea, and above of all, there was that experience of free-falling at 194 km/hour speed, literally facing face-distorting nasty blow of wind. The earth below was zooming in, like zooming in Google earth. Gravity. In physics I studied g = 9.80665 m/s2. In skydiving I felt g = 9.80665 m/s2. I wanted to keep falling like that forever, or perhaps for 1 more minute, 1 more minute would have been feel like forever, I had no sense of time, What was time? Who was Einstein? What was I even thinking about? Did I get crazy? Absolutely.

Suddenly parachute opened and pulled me few meters upward. Then there was silence. Absolute silence. I was just floating in the air. My instructor asked me if I was OK. I assured him. What the heck had I just done with my life?

The rest of it was pretty nice, floating in the air with parachute while enjoying the awesome view of earth and sky. Everything was under control and soothing. The extreme excitement of my life just had ended. In the next few minutes time, I landed, safely.

So, did that experience change my life? On my way to skydiving center, the taxi driver told me he knew of a guy who skydived once at the same skydiving center where I was heading to. Before skydiving that guy used to have a miserable life, he was struggling at his work and in his personal life. But after skydiving his life had changed.

Unfortunately, except my Facebook cover page, nothing else has changed in my life significantly after skydiving. People might think I became braver after skydiving. Not at all. At our office, we have to give a three minute speech once a month. I still hide my hands during that monthly speech, because they shiver. For me the fear of public speaking is still far more severe than skydiving.

The thing that drove me to Skydiving was sheer curiosity. I am an overly curious person. I just wanted to know how it feels to Skydive. A FAQ I have been being asked since the day I Skydived, how did you overcome fear? With all the honesty in the world I am saying, I was not scared. It surprises me too, why I wasn’t scared? Perhaps because I have endless trust in Japanese safety? I don’t think there are too many countries in the world who care about safety like Japan does. If I died that day, it would have meant I was destined to die that day :-S I know it does not make much sense and perhaps you are thinking what the hell this guy is talking about! But trust, belief these phenomenons are always like this. We cannot express/explain them with words or algorithms.

Another FAQ I have been being asked lately a lot, what’s next? I don’t know and I don’t plan. I am not saying not planning is a good thing, but I just don’t. I don’t want my curiosity to become a burden for me. However, I wish I could do wingsuit flying someday. I wish I could experience zero gravity someday. But they are not in my bucket list. In fact I don’t have a bucket list. However, I am always ready. The other day I met someone who does kickboxing. In a week time I ended up learning kickboxing at a kickboxing center. It’s just like that. I am always ready. If there is a new thing, I will go for it without thinking about return, consequence and stuff like that. Is there anything new you want to go after?

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Talking “TED Talks” and speaking “Geek Speaks”

I am an avid fan of TED talks. I love them! Watching at least one TED talk has almost been a nightly ritual for me for quite some time. And, still I am on the proponent’s side of the recent debate that accuses TED talks for oversimplification. Most of the TED talks are the summaries of lifetime works. However, TED require the presenters to present those works in such a way (e.g use of layman terms) so that their works/achievements can be interpreted to a greater range of audience. There is no doubt about the good intention of TED, however more often than not many of the TED presenters’ talks consciously or unconsciously hide the true story of raw hardcore labor they put into their work. They mostly talk about what inspired them to start their journey (which typically starts by “when I was a child….”) and what keeps them motivated to pursue the journey amidst all sorts of difficulties and agonies.

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Then at the other extreme of this importance of motivation spectrum, some people say “Losers wait for motivation. Winners just get shit done.” Well, I don’t quite agree with this notion either for the obvious reasons. However, most of the TED speakers oversimplify their work using the words motivation and inspiration. Like, if only you are motivated enough you can get there. I don’t think so. What about facing this truth? I (or anyone for that matter) might not be just good enough! Talented enough! With all the good intention in the world, those TED presenters want to convince us “you can do it”! Thanks for your nice sacred intention of motivating me, but that’s a half-lie. Please don’t oversimplify! Certain goals might be attained just by sheer hard work but not always. Let’s accept it.

Now, let’s speak about “Geek Speaks”. People usually use the phrases Geek Speak or Jargon in a negative sense. However, often I see someone is being accused of using jargon when actually s/he is just using the right terminologies which may not be familiar to a mass audience but just an everyday-word for the people involved in that field! So the person who is giving the talk, just unconsciously use those words. Well, there are certain complicated phrases/terms that should be explained in layman terms (when addressing a non-expert mass audience) and recognizing those terms actually distinguish a good speaker from the average ones. But, at times some people (audience) don’t even try to exercise their brain to understand a complex issue and instead they put blame on the speaker/presenter saying s/he is using too many jargons. That’s unfair.

Admit it or not, jargon (or whatever you may call them) actually helps. Often people ask me for their daily-life IT related problems and in most of the cases I don’t really know any solution for them. But I just Googled those problems and in 90%+ cases the solutions appear on the first page of search result. So, why don’t those people just Google their own tech problems? Because they don’t know the right keywords!

By no means, I am against the concept of simplification. But I am just not sure if oversimplification always helps. I am not also saying that using technical terms with the sheer purpose of displaying your wisdom is something good. All I am saying is that, we should think twice and use our brain (or internet) before labeling something as jargon or geek speak.

Chasm between a dream (personal) life and a dream career

I had to make a choice, in 2012.

I love IT stuff. I always wanted to build my career around IT domain and I got a web developer job at a startup. I’d not say I found my dream job but that was pretty much closer to what I wanted at that point in time. I really really loved the job content. It was daylight clear to me, that particular job content was the perfect stepping stone to lead me towards my desired career path. On the flipside, I was not quite impressed with that company’s business philosophy (I know it’s a vague term but I don’t want to get into details with this point now). However to me, that was one of the most important factors, if not the most important factor of any job. Also, the location of that job was in the middle of nowhere. The place was so remote that even a guy like me who does not give a damn about social life got a little bit concerned about the social life!

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And then, I got another job offer from Japan, almost the opposite corner of the world relative to where I was residing at that time (UK). The job description of this Japanese one was nowhere close to what I wanted! However, prior to the official acceptance of the job offer, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the people who would be my team members. I got a feeling that they would be very nice people to work with. Location-wise, the job was in Hiroshima – a city which is not really a busy mega city and also not a middle-of-nowhere type place. The scenic beauty of the city is really top-notch!

I signed out from that web developer job and signed up for Hiroshima job.

It’d be an exaggeration if I say I am leading a dream life now but I do not really have much to complain about my life as it is now. I have got here just about the right number and type of friends, I am doing more sports than I was doing in my university years and I have just about the right amount of pain and dissatisfaction in my life which is required to keep the life in balance. Yes, I chose a relaxed life over a hectic but most likely rewarding career. (Some pople might say what a shame!)

Before going to further discussion, please let me clarify what I mean by the phrase dream life in this post. By saying dream life here I mean you are living your non-working hours in the way you really want.

So, dream life and dream career, are they mutually exclusive? For most of us, I think, Yes. The definitions of both of the terms dream life and dream career are quite subjective. However, one thing is for certain that, a dream career does not necessarily mean an easy career and more often than not, pursuing a dream career interferes with personal or after-the-work-hour life. A dream career often pays a very handsome salary but does not pay you enough time to live a relaxed life. If you are a reader of Harvard Business Review sort websites/blogs/magazines, you must find a lot of talking and writing on work-life balance. I think if you claim you have work-life balance I would say you are doing something wrong. Your work and your life do not care about your work-life balance. More often than not you will find your office tasks and personal chores are overlapping and if you stick to your work-life balance thingy, then I am not sure if its a good thing from a holistic view of your life.

Instead of work-life balance we actually need work-life priority. Stay at office longer hours when you need to. But do not sacrifice your after-the-work-life staying at office longer hours just for the sake of illusive promotion and to show off you are working hard. If your promotion is based on this sort of show-off thing then you are doomed, and so is your employer!

However, I know that for most of the people staying at office longer hours is not a choice, its a MUST. And unfortunately if that’s happened to be a requirement of pursuing their dream career, then for those people dream career and dream life are certainly mutually exclusive. All that said, perhaps the one and only way to lead both dream career and dream life at the same time is to become a successful entrepreneur. In this case you can allocate your 24 hours time according to your priorities. If you work for someone else, you simply cannot do that (there might be some exceptions but I have never heard of any so far).

I am not discouraging pursuing dream career while sacrificing dream life. In fact dream career is at times a part of a dream life. However in that case your “dream life” is actually in the future. You are thinking your dream career will take you to your goal someday and then you will have a dream life. Talk to some old and rich people. You will find that most of them had the same plan and that turned out to be a wrong plan.

My final point is that, you should have either a dream career or a dream life while you are in your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. If you are in your 20’s – 40’s and still have none them, then perhaps it’s time for you to think about it seriously!

Business plan brainstorming: “Everything as a Service (XaaS)” and “Sharing Economy”

(In the past I had started a business but there is nothing really mentionable about it. So.. right, I do not have any proven record of any startup success and this post is a mere brainstorming)

I borrowed this term “Everything as a service” from Cloud Computing. If you are just a little familiar with cloud computing, you might have already heard the buzzwords like “Platform as a Service”, “Network as a Service”, “Software as a Service” etc. These days, a new term called “Everything as a Service” or Xaas (X as a Service) is also being popularized. As you can guess, “Everything as a Service” simply means leveraging cloud computing for all our IT needs – software, platform, infrastructure, everything.

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From Business-model perspective, the elegance of cloud computing is that, it servicized (Have I just invented a new word?) its products! They still offer pretty much the same things (server and all) but now they say they offer us services, not products! Technical features aside, business-wise Cloud Computing service providers offer a lot of flexibility and freedom to the clients. With cloud computing, clients can avoid vendor lock-in and scale their business without investing loads of money up front.

So, can we emulate this cloud computing business model and apply it to other industries? That’s what this post is all about. Yes, I think it’s possible. I strongly believe, there are a lot of product based industries that have not considered this service aspect yet. We still have the opportunity to implement this service layer to those industries which can add significant value to it’s respective business.

“Sharing economy” might be another relevant factor in this discussion. And, you cannot discuss “Sharing economy” without discussion Airbnb. Just even a few years ago who would have thought about a platform that would help us to earn money from random (but trustable) lodgers! This is quite different from traditional business model of house renting. Even though this Airbnb type sharing thing and cloud computing are two totally different industries but still some similarities can be found in these two business models. For instance, both of these business offer on-demand service, pay-per-use (in other words, only pay for what you actually use) and resource (products – house or server) sharing among multiple users.

The key point here is that, instead of selling products, we can rent them in “sharing economy”.  So, now my personal quest is to find out the right product which has so far been being sold only, but has not been successfully servicized yet. If I can find that right product and successfully add that “service” layer on top of its existing business model – that’d be awesome :)

Isn’t it boring to travel alone?

I always see your travelling images on Facebook. Where do you get all that time to travel so much? It costs you a lot, right? Do you mostly travel alone? Isn’t it boring to travel alone?

Those are some of the FAQs I have been being asked lately. Let me answer the last one today. Isn’t it boring to travel alone?

People travel for all kinds of reasons. For business, for spending some good time together with friends and family in a nice place, for having a break from work etc. In my case, I mostly travel just for the sake of travelling. I really enjoy the entire process of travelling; from Googling for cheap tickets/hostels to reaching to the travel destination; no matter whether I am travelling alone or with someone else. Lone travelling and group travelling both are fun, in distinct ways.

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Of course, at times I travel with my friend(s). But in those cases, I consider the company of my friend(s) as a bonus. Or sometimes I travel with my friends with the sole purpose of spending some good time with them. In such case, even if the traveling per se sucks, I don’t really care, I am still happy.

However, if you are like me who loves travelling just for sightseeing or hiking; you should be absolutely cool with travelling alone for the reasons below –

1. A good friend and a good friend for travelling are two entirely different things. Once I went to a journey with a good friend of mine. That was the last time we travelled together. In fact that was the last time we talked to each other :/ Choose your travelling partner very carefully. You don’t want to ruin your journey neither your friendship.

2. It’s good to have freedom when you travel so you can enjoy it the most. Travelling with other people often require some compromise. The most annoying thing about planning a trip with someone else is that, when you are free s/he is busy and vice versa (you’d of course agree with me on that?). It’s not just that. Difference in travelling destination preferences, difference in the amount of allocated budget for travelling – all those things can get in the way of having an exciting trip. Finding the right travelling partner is much more difficult than finding a good friend :-S

3. I met a lot of interesting people while travelling alone and some of them became my good friends later. You have more chance to meet interesting people when you travel alone. I started most of my journeys all alone but did not finish them all alone! I can give you some good tips on how to meet like minded people while travelling. The first tip is, stay in a hostel. It’s guaranteed that there will be people who are pure travellers. And you will find that, most of them are travelling alone too!

4. Please note that, all those theories are not applicable everywhere and everytime. Once I went to Tokyo Disneyland alone, and I felt and looked so damn stupid. There was a double seater ride and I was the odd one. After waiting for about 15 minutes, they found an odd one like me and she was a girl. We got on that ride together. But the real life is nothing like a drama. At the end of the ride, that was not a beginning of something. At the end of the ride, that was just end of a 10 minutes ride in awkward silence.

5. Final point. If you are a natural traveller (whatever that means) you should enjoy travelling alone if you don’t have the right partner to travel with. So far I have met 3 travellers who are on world-tour! All 3 of them were lone travellers. When you travel alone you just don’t discover a new place for yourself, you in fact discover yourself.

I want to sign off this post with the following message. If you have got some extra cash or savings in hand you can do two things – 1. You can buy things(!), 2. You can buy experiences. I’d suggest buying experiences; that will last longer than the things.

One of those days

And yet again, I pulled an all-nighter and went to bed at 6.00 in the morning. My deep slumber was shaken up by loud laughter and chit-chat of my roommates. They were enjoying their morning. I checked the time, it was just 7.45. After half-an-hour of fruitless effort to re-sleep, I gave up. The laughter volume grew a lot louder by then. I took a shower and turned on some music. Thought music would be sweeter to my ear than the unwanted laughter. But, another roommate, he doesn’t like music, no kind of music. So I had to turn it off after getting a reminder from him about his personal preference and a kind suggestion. The suggestion was, I could use headphones, in that way both us could be happy. I thanked him.

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With a grumpy face and a red pair of eyes, I went out to have breakfast in some restaurant. The breakfast was terrible. But still less terrible than another so called friend who suddenly stepped into the restaurant and directly headed to my table. He needed money. He already owed me like 20,000 Yen (approx. 200 dollars). I asked him about that money. He said, if I gave him another 10,000 Yen more, then he would certainly return all 30,000 Yen next month, no matter what. He explained, that day was the last day of paying his tuition fee. He was receiving 50% tuition fee waiver from the university and if he couldn’t pay the tuition fee by that day, then his 50% tuition fee waiver would be revoked. He asked me if I had a heart? I checked my heart beat and that was right there. So I gave him money. But, that next month never came.

After lending (losing) 10,000 Yen, I headed to the convenience store where I used to work part time. I was supposed to get my salary that day. I didn’t get my salary. Instead, I learned that I got fired. I had gone to an internship for few weeks and during that time they had recruited someone else in my place. But my salary? Come later. I went later, then I went later again, lot of times. I never got that salary.

It was just 11.00 AM, still almost a full day ahead. I had a lecture at 2.00 PM. I was really looking forward to that lecture. I already got all the unofficial grades of that semester except the grade of that course. And, all those unofficial grades had been A+ so far. If I got A+ in that one too, then for the first time my semester GPA would be 4.00! I was quite confident about getting A+ in that course too. In that lecture we were supposed to get our grades from the professor. 2.00 PM clicked, the professor stepped in. It turned out that I missed A+ in that course for the margin 2 marks.

After the lecture, I checked my Goggle calendar that said table tennis with …… at 6.00 PM. I called him to confirm if he was coming. Over the phone, he excitedly said, unexpectedly he got a date that evening. He never imagined that girl would agree to date him. I wished him luck.

For next few hours, that sort of things continued.

Around 11.00 PM, I called my mom. How was your day my son? It was very good, how was your day mom? It was very good too!

……… (I hope she didn’t lie like I did)

When your goal in life is to find the goal in your life

WARNING:  After reading this post you might feel the urge of killing me and go to jail if you are –
  • One of those people who always shares “inspirational” quotes on Facebook.
  • Interested in the discussion of what actually “Goal” means in the context of life.
  • A person who always say stuff that we all already know (e.g. we SHOULD focus on our strengths).
  • Someone who more often than not says “ (You/We) SHOULD” blablabla…..

For a long time, the goal in my life was to find the goal in my life. Upto some point, I had been (un/semi/sub)-consciously looking for the goal in my life. I read uncountable number of articles, watched most of those curated TED playlists, sought inspiration and tips in histories, biographies and other sources but to no avail. Then one day (or one night), consciously I decided to put an end to it. And I became happier.

I am an explorer – both literally and metaphorically. I have not spent three decades on this earth yet but I already have changed my country of residence three times. I changed my major three times too. At first I enrolled myself in Civil Engineering but my interest lasted just for half-a-semester. I migrated to Computer Science. Then decided not just to shift my major, not just to shift my university but to shift the country. I moved to a different country and earned a degree in Business Administration. During my final year, I became really interested on IT stuff. So I changed my continent this time (Asia to Europe) and started an MSc course on E-Business and Innovation with the hope that it’d help me to shape my interest (IT stuff) to a specific goal. It didn’t.

I tried playing Harmonium (a musical instrument in South Asia) for quite a few years, I tried to become an ameteur astronomer, I tried scuba diving, I tried windsurfing, I coded “Hello World” in at least 11 programming languages. I tried charity, running my own business, online teaching. If I list up all the things I (seriously) have tried in my life so far, you have to scroll down this web page at least for two minutes (yes, of course its an exaggeration). It’s not that I lose interest after starting something new. Mostly, after spending some time with something new, I stumble across something seemingly more exciting hence jumped into that. I am a master of none but certainly I am a jack of quite a few trades.

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So, have I been just wasting my time? Now I don’t really think so. I’d rather say I have been spending my time to get a feel for a lot of stuff that are difficult but sheer interesting. That makes me to appreciate the people who are capable of mastering those difficult but sheer interesting things. There has to be someone who can value and appreciate the hard-work and awesomeness of those people. I am that someone. Of course everyone thinks windsurfers are cool. But you really really appreciate a windsurfer when you try it out for yourself and realize how hard it is. Surprisingly, I often meet a lot of people who are awesome at something but they just don’t know it and more sadly the people around them either don’t know it too or deliberately refrain from any appreciation for jealousy and/or other reasons.

Going back to the topic of goal in life, having a goal in life is undoubtedly awesome and our mother earth needs a lot of people with goal in life. But if you don’t have a goal in life, that’s not something inherently negative either. My goal-less life presents me freedom and joy of exploration.

Tonight, I am going to spend some time with Adobe Lightroom. It’s an awesome tool for photographer. Tomorrow going to play football with a local football club. Day after tomorrow I can go to football club again but instead I will go to table tennis club. The next day I can go to table tennis club again but instead I will go for swimming. If I am sent to this world with a purpose, I am sure the purpose will find me someday.

The possibilities in Ribbon designing with CNT for Space Elevator System

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Abstract

This paper is a survey paper whereby we have considered the practicality and the state of art regarding ribbon design for Space Elevator system using Carbon Nanotube (CNT).

Introduction

The pioneer of modern science Sir Albert Einstein once said, “If at first, the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it” and for supporting this quotation what else could be the best example other than the idea of “Space Elevator”? In order to make space missions easier and cost-efficient “Space Elevator” is an idea of connecting earth surface with GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit) through Carbon Nanotube (CNT) made ribbon which will be used to carry the load up to GEO altitude (Approximately 35,786 Km).(1)

Chemical Rocket vs. Space Elevator

The mammoth cost (Between the time period of 2005-2010 its approximately $ 1.5 billion per launch (2)) of conventional chemical rocket launching and the question of it’s reusability triggers the urge of Space Elevator. Even today’s reusable chemical rockets throw away almost 80% of the mass at the launch pad as consumed fuel. (2) Regarding the cost efficiency, because of the low energy consumption to move up and down the payloads it will be possible to send 1Kg of load in the orbit at less than $10 dollar! (3)

Obviously there are hundreds of questions to make this idea sounds absurd at the first hearing and the first question would be nothing but “Is there any material exists which is strong enough to hold massive load

of a space mission and lift it up to 35,786 Km altitude?” The scientists have discovered the required material for this mission. In this article we would like to discuss why this particular material is fit for this project and how we can implement it in Space Elevator Project.

Ribbon Material for Space Elevator

The total required length of ribbon depends on the available counterweight in the space elevator system. If no counterweight is used the total length of ribbon would be 150,000 Km. (1) However, 100,000 Km is considered as the optimum length for this system. (1) First two requirements for this ribbon material are – Strength and light-weight. The required strength for the ribbon material in Space Elevator is approximately 62.5 GPa (Giga Pascal). However, an allotrope of Carbon known as Carbon Nanotube or CNT has shown approximately 200 GPa of strength which is much stronger than the requires strength. If we use CNT-made ribbon the weight of total tether will be around 9.2 tons. And the diameter would potentially be 0.15 mm at the earth surface and 0.26 mm at the GEO. (3) One thing is to be mentioned here that in 1978, the legend of  science fiction literature Arthur C. Clarke in his famous book “The fountain of paradise” not only proposed the idea of space elevator even he set up 2 stage plan to implement it 1. He invented super strong monofilament carbon fibers, 2. Built a cluster of cables, then he built a solid tower around the skeleton cables.

From the above discussion it becomes quite obvious that CNT is perhaps the strongest candidate for being used as ribbon material in Space Elevator project. Now in proceeding part of this paper we will see how this CNT is formed and the possibility & challenges of using CNT as ribbon material for Space Elevator project.

CNT for Space Elevator’s Ribbon

CNT is a member of Fullerenes family which is the 3rd all allotrope of Carbon. There are two types of Carbon Nanotubes  – Single-Walled nanotubes (SWNT) and Multi-Walled nanotubes (MWNT). SWNT is made by wrapping a single-atom layered praphene into a seamless cylinder. On the other hand, MWNT is made by several grapheme sheets rolled around inside each other.(1) These nanotubes are made in microscopic level hence MWNT is a bit challenging to produce as it requires putting one rolled layer of CNT into another rolled CNT. Therefore, SWNT is the better option in Space Elevator project. We can have our ultimate ribbon by making carbon nanotube bundle of SWNTs. Most materials show their strongest forms when they are in fibrous shape. (4) The proposed ribbon will be composed of 3 mm2 cross sectional area of 10 micron diameter fibers; approximately 30,000 fibers at the anchor. (1) The interval between the tiny fibers will be 10 cm or more. (3) However, this is not economically and perhaps also technically feasible to make the entire ribbon with only CNT. In this case the best idea could be using CNT is composite. But for a number of reasons making CNT composites is not a simple task. However, In University of Kentucky, they produced 5 Km long CNT composite fiber using 1% CNT doping. This CNT doping increased the strength from 0.7 Gpa to 1.14 Gpa however, for achieving the ultimate purpose of required strength the ratio of doping has to be 80%. (1) A good example of CNT composite could be PAN/SWNT composite fiber. Even though the tensile fracture surface of Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fiber shows extensive fibrillation however this fibrillation could be decreased significantly using PAN/SWNT composite. (5) A study showed, using 10 wt% (mass percentage) SWNT it’s possible to increase PAN fiber’s breaking strength up to 100%. (5)  It is to be mentioned here that other alternative ribbon designs have been also proposed for space elevator project. (1) We have the opportunity of experimenting SWNT composite with wide range of other materials (like PAN). Still it’s a long way to go to find out the right combination of ribbon design and SWNT composite. It’s also important to consider the challenges like lightning, meteors, space debris etc are the important risk factors in carbon designing.

Conclusion

The barrier between producing CNT in laboratory and implementing this CNT to build ribbon is quite challenging. However, theory says it’s quite possible what a matter here is to invent the right technique. The rapid progress on nano-techonology is quite cheering and we can hope that it is just matter of time to overcome the Space Elevator’s first hurdle: Ribbon material with nothing but carbon Nanotubes!

Reference:  

  1. Edwards Bradley C. & Westling Eric A. (2003), “The Space Elevator: A revolutionary Earth-to-space transportation System”

  2. Swan Peter A & Swan Cathy W. (2007) “Space Elevator Systems Architecture”

  3. Smitherman D.V. (2006) “Space Elevators: An Advanced Earth-Space Infrastructure for the New Millennium”

  4. H.D Wagner, (2003) “Encyclopedia of Polymer Science & Technology”, Available on world wide web <http://www.weizmann.ac.il/wagner/COURSES/Reading%20material%20(papers)/Encyclopedy_of_polymer_science_2003.pdf> Retrieved on 28th June, 2009.

  5. Byung G. Min, T.V. Sreekumar, Tetsuya Uchida, Satish Kumar (2004), “Oxidative stabilization of PAN/SWNT composite fiber”

Let’s talk money

The other day, just like any other, I tweeted a Forbes article captioned “The World’s Youngest Billionaires: 29 Under 40”. The tweet drew some serious attention, namely it put me on the radar of a friend. But the option of a 140 chars tweet-reply was not sufficient for the message she had for me (judging from the email that neatly awaited me in my inbox).

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It would be impolite for me to call her strongly worded email a rant, so we shall call it an example of free speech. The content of which informed me of myself (lest I had any delusions of who I was): a greedy corporate who worshiped “those greedy billionaires”. And that it wasn’t the first time she saw such ‘shares’ from me on her social media feed. “Money” should not be the prime motivator of my life. I am bad. I am evil. I should not exist.

Thank you for your feedback, my friend. Much appreciated. You are partially right. Following Forbes listed billionaires has become somewhat of a hobby for me. Suffice to say some of those billionaires (esp the techie ones) are my rock-stars. My personal favorite ones either created or invented wonders and the “billionaire” tag just happened to be a consequence of their hard work.

Anyway, this post is not about billionaires but about the thing that made them billionaire – Money.

Money cannot solve all the problems but it does solve a lot of problems and we all know it. Certainly, “Money” is not the only reason we study and work throughout our life in modern age, but it is undoubtedly one of THE most vital reasons we pursue our academic and professional careers. And yet we feel uncomfortable talking about money. If someone says they want to make a lot of money, we question their moral standards. We subconsciously think the only way to make a lot of money is the BAD way. We doubt the rich guys. How can s/he be rich if s/he is a good person?

The purpose of my post is just to give a reminder to us. A lot of money does not always mean “dirty money”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a lot of money in life as long as we earn it in an honest and fair way. For many of us, money is not the ultimate goal; it is just a way to reach our goals. The culture in which I grew up, “Sharing and giving” is embedded in our DNA. I need money for that “Sharing and giving”. I need money to buy a decent telescope, a childhood dream of mine. I need money to buy windsurfing gears. I need money so I may perform my pilgrimage. I need money to travel to my dream-lands (Egypt being one of them-incase you wondered). Which of these are immoral or inappropriate? If none, then making a lot of money in a proper way should not be a sin too as those dreams of mine certainly need a lot of money to become reality.

To me, becoming a fan of a billionaire is just like becoming a fan of a sports player or an actor. If I am a die hard fan of a cricket player it does not mean I am going to quit my job to become someone like him. Of course I wish I could be a player like him but it’s just that, a wish. So just like that, I wish I could have a successful idea execution like those billionaires but it’s just a wish. I am not ready yet to forsake my secured monthly salary and jump off the cliff hoping I will fly. Moreover, I don’t think anyone ever became billionaire by planning to become a billionaire. And suffice to say, when I say Billionaires I mean self-made billionaires. Not the ones who are billionaires by inheritance. And again, its not the money of those billionaires attract me but the works that made them billionaires.

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