New York: Mangalyaan has been named among the best inventions of 2014 by Time magazine which described it as a technological feat that will allow India to flex its “interplanetary muscles.” “Nobody gets Mars right on the first try. The US didn’t, Russia didn’t, the Europeans didn’t. But on September 24, India did. That’s when the Mangalyaan …went into orbit around the Red Planet, a technological feat no other Asian nation has yet achieved,” Time said about Mangalyaan, calling it “The Supersmart Spacecraft.” Mangalyaan is among the 25 ‘Best Inventions of 2014’ listed by Time magazine that are “making the world better, smarter and-in some cases-a little more fun.”
Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Mars spacecraft cost India just USD 74 million, less than the budget for the multi-Acacdemy Award winning science fiction thriller film Gravity. Time said at that price, the Mangalyaan is equipped with just five onboard instruments that allow it to do simple tasks like measure Martian methane and surface composition. “More important, however, it allows India to flex its interplanetary muscles, which portends great things for the country’s space programme and for science in general,” Time said.
The list also includes inventions by two Indians for developing an exercise space for prisoners in solitary confinement and a tablet toy for kids.
Nalini Nadkarni, forest ecologist and college professor helped develop the ‘Blue Room’ with Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon for inmates in solitary confinement, who for 23 hours a day see nothing but a tiny, white-walled cell, an experience some research suggests heightens mental illness and makes prisoners prone to suicide attempts and violence. Last year, officials began letting some of them spend their free hour in a first-of-its-kind Blue Room, an exercise space where a projector plays video of open deserts, streaming waterfalls and other outdoor scenes. Nadkarni says the imagery is designed to calm prisoners, “much in the way we walk through a park” to relax. Former Google engineer Pramod Sharma developed ‘Osmo’, a tablet toy that gets physical. Sharma got the inspiration when he saw his daughter playing with the iPad, but did not want her to be glued to the tablet all day long.
The toy, which debuted in October, has helped Osmo raise USD 14.5 million in capital and is now being sold in the Apple Store. The other inventions are a reactor developed by aerospace company Lockheed Martin that could realize nuclear fusion, Apple’s smart watch that besides telling time, can send messages, give directions, track fitness and make wireless payments and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, a “hybrid” that bundles laptop into a 12-inch tablet and can run desktop apps.
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