Very Short Questions

Question 1 : What was the name that Duttada had given to his telescope?

Answer : Duttada called his telescope Dibya Chakshu – Divine Eye.

Question 2 : What had Duttada been waiting for to buy a telescope?

Answer : Dutta had longed for enough money to buy a telescope and for enough spare time in which to observe the heavens. He got both after retirement.

Question 3 : Who was Nabin Babu?

Answer : Nabin Babu was a doctor. He had advised Duttada to take special precautions against the cold.

Question 4 : Why did Duttada feel that particular night was going to be the big night?

Answer : Duttada believed that particular night to be a big night because against the background of the same old stars he had detected a faint stranger.

Question 5 : What all did Duttada do to ensure that the was not making a mistake in detecting a comet?

Answer : Duttada re-examined the charts with him, checked his Dibya for any smudges on the optics and did some calculations on his pocket calculator to ensure that he was not making a mistake in detecting a comet.

Question 6 : In which newspaper was the report about Duttada’s discovery printed?

Answer : In Anand Bazar Patrika, the news of Duttada’s discovery was printed two days later.

Question 7 : What was Duttada’s limitation as an astronomer, which professional astronomers didn’t experience?

Answer : Duttada had an eight-inch sized telescope, whereas the professional astronomers had gigantic telescopes.

Question 8 : Who was John Macpherson?

Answer : Sir John Macpherson was the Defence Science Advisor in her Majesty’s Government.

Short Questions

Question 1 : Why did Duttada chide his wife?

Answer : Indrani Debi thought that the comets bring ill luck. Duttada chided his wife for her superstitious beliefs which he though hadn’t got cured even with an MA degree. He tried to explain his wife that there was no correlation between comets and the calamities on the Earth.

Question 2 : Who was the bearer of the note written to James? What instructions were given to the bearer?

Answer : Johnson, a security officer at Whitehall was the bearer of the note written to James by Sir John Macpherson. He had been given instructions to being James to Sir John’s office in London. Johnson drove James to Whitehall in his Ford Cortina. After having introduced James to Sir John, he left the chambers.

Question 3 : Why did the editor of ‘Nature’ show James paper to Sir John Macpherson?

Answer : The editor of ‘Nature’ , Mr Taylor, met Sir John at lunch where Mr Taylor showed James paper to Sir John. Mr Taylor asked Sir John to give his opinions on the paper before he sent the paper to a professional refree.

Question 4 : What decision did Sir John take to address the matter of cometary collision?

Answer : Sir John decided that in order to prevent this natural catastrophe, more scientists and astronomers from all over the world were required to put their brains together.

He, therefore, decided that an international Conference should be conducted at the earliest to have a discussion on the same.

Question 5 : What did Sir John say about publication of James’ paper?

Answer : Sir John asked James to tone down his paper. He told him to insert as many ‘if’s and but’s’ to make the conclusion appear not so certain. He also told James that he would exercise his influence and make sure that a similar restraint is exercised in other countries.

Long Questions

Question 1 : What were the rare circumstances that would prevent Comet Dutta’s collision with the Earth?

Answer : Sir John discussed James paper with , James told Sir john that barring some rare circumstances, the collision of the comet with the Earth was inevitable. James told Sir John that it was possible that the comet might collide with asteroid before reaching Earth. It was also possible that the comet might split up and evaporate when it reached near the Sun. Barring these rarities the collision of the comet with the earth was inevitable.

Question 2 : What was Sir John’s reaction listening to James’ notions about the rare circumstances?

Answer : Sir John was aware that cometary collisions are expected to occur once in ten million years, but according to James’ research this comet could collide with earth in less than an year.

If those rare circumstances didn’t occur , this comet could collide with Earth in ten months.

Sir John gets worried because the rare circumstances presented by James were based on chance events. And such a critical matter could not be left to be decided by fortuitous circumstances.

Value Based Questions

Question 1 : Cometary collision was a critical piece of news. Do you think that Sir John was acting right in not getting the news publicised?

Answer : Cometary collision indeed was a critical piece of news. It endangered the survival of all living species on earth. This particular comet could have caused destruction within ten months.

Sir John didn’t wish this news to get publicised because he thought it would create widespread panic among the people in the world.

He thought it better that the matter should be handled by the experts who could at least attempt at doing something to control the situation than the mass hysteria making the matter get entirely out of control.

Question 2 : Indrani Debi is educated, yet represents the quelibre sections of the society. Comment.

Answer : It is true that Indrani Debi was educated and had an MA degree yet, her education failed to put her out of irrational and illogical supersitions conditioning that she had received from her immediate society. The society, at large, invest a lot of faith in such superstitions rather than developing a more scientific outlook.