Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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27-12-2005 : Orissa
Science is borderless

I am indeed delighted to participate in the Inauguration of the 13th National Children's Science Congress (NCSC) 2005 organized by the Rashtriya Vigyan Evam Pradyogiki Sanchar Parishad and with the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology and Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology. My greetings to the organizers, students, teachers and science planners participating in this Congress.


Can computer challenge the Brain?

I would like to share with you friends, some of the predictions of Ray Kurzweil written in his book "When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence - The Age Of Spiritual Machines". World Wide Web will make tremendous impact in the way we communicate and live. Most of the computers and accessories will be of micro sized, wearable and will have wireless communications with each other. Moderately priced PCs capable of performing about a billion calculations per second today, will be able to perform about a trillion calculations per second within next 10 years. It is possible by 2020 computational ability of an ordinary PC could exceed the capability of human brain. By 2030 the capability of a normal PC would be around 1000 times of human capability. Definitely my view is: the creativity of the human mind will be always superior to even the most powerful computer in the horizon. Scientific mind is creative. Creativity is the foundation for technological growth. Technological growth powers the nation for economic growth.

By the end of this century there would be a strong trend towards convergence of human thinking with the world of machine intelligence that the human species initially created. When there would no longer be any clear distinction between human and computers, how the molecular biologists would help us to retain the supremacy of man over the machines? Computers are going to give us a challenge. It is not only for the biologists, neurologists and psychologists; the entire scientific community would have greater responsibility of keeping the mankind above the man-made computers. Unfortunately, the creativity and imagination components of human brain have not been fully explored and utilized. Even the human genome research has enormous application of software in understanding the complex sequence of gene profile and its relationship to human health and disease. With a wide ethnic diversity of our nation, a unique database can be created with special application of pharmacogenetics (personalized medicine) for focusing healthcare delivery. With the recent advancement in the computational capabilities and bioscience and also availability of large amount of clinical data, study of the brain particularly in the conditions of mentally challenged children has become possible. Now I would like to talk about my experience with school children.


My experience with school students

During the last five years, I have met over one million students in all parts of the country in the age group of students between 10 to 17 years. I make it a point to answer at least 10 to 15 questions wherever I go, in addition I have answered thousands of questions through my website. I would like to illustrate the typical searching minds, particularly to the teachers, scientists, students and Education Planners assembled here.

Question on Gravity: On 20th August 2005, I went to Bangalore and participated in the inauguration of Silver Jubilee of Karnataka Rajya Vijnana Parishat. The function was attended by children of 12 different Bangalore schools. After my address, some of the children asked very interesting scientific questions which I would like to share with this audience. Master Prajwal P. Acharya of 9th Standard, Prarthana School, asked me "What is the relationship between Time & Universal Gravitation?" I appreciated this beautiful question. In my answer I told him that the concept of time, space and universal gravitation is a very exciting and interesting one. "Gravity is the force of attraction between massive particles due to their mass. Weight is determined by the mass of an object and its location in a gravitational field. While a great deal is known about the properties of gravity, the ultimate cause of the gravitational force remains an open question. General relativity is the most successful theory of gravitation to date. It postulates that mass and energy curve, space-time, resulting in the phenomenon known as gravity." There are books on the subject and websites that explain these concepts extremely well. I asked the students to study further.

Question on Ocean exploration: Master Bharath Choudhari M. - 10th Standard, Athena Public School, asked me "Why we are not exploring the World (Ocean) more than the Universe (Space)?" In my answer I told him that Ocean is restricted to the surface of the earth whereas the space is unlimited. The reaching the depth of the ocean is becoming tougher than reaching large heights in the space. In spite of the difficulty in reaching the depth of the ocean, we still explore the ocean and many benefits accrue to the mankind. And there are many treasures of knowledge waiting from the depth of the ocean.

Recently it has been reported in the science magazine "New Scientist" that Seacore, the company Goodden Heads will send this month its drilling ship to the water around Papua, New Guinea and the North Island of Iceland. There it will drill as deep as 2,000 metres beneath the surface to test the thickness of volcano ore deposits. If they are 15 metres thick or more mining these deposits for gold, zinc, copper, silver and lead could be commercially viable and a new industry will be born.

Question on Science and Philosophy: Another student from the audience asked "What is the difference between a Scientist and a Philosopher". For this question, I answered - the thinking process is common both to the philosopher and the scientist. Scientist deals with theory which has to be validated. Philosopher postulates theological, philosophical and spiritual thoughts, the validation seams to be the societal dynamics. The science ultimately results in to technology and benefit the society. Philosophy, may give the way life is to be led in a dynamic society.

Question on Deep Impact on the Comet: I received an email from a 15 years old school boy from a north eastern state school on 5-July-2005, the day after the event "Mr. Kalam please tell me how important the Deep Impact spacecraft impacting on the comet Tempel-1?" I was very happy to receive this question, even though I know the event I didn?t give thoughts. Then immediately I have to give an answer, I have searched the information in many websites and then sent the following answer.

"A few days back one important event took place in space. That was the impact of the NASA spacecraft called deep impact smashing into the comet Tempel-I, with enough force to create football stadium sized crater with a depth of a 14 storey building. The spacecraft was navigated by an Indian Shyam Bhaskaran - the deep impact traveled 431 million kms in 172 days escaping from the earth orbit and intercepted the comet at a straight distance from earth at 134 million km. The comet was orbiting around the Sun every five and half years. This is a land mark in space exploration.

This event is important to divert in case of asteroids which may hit the earth in future. One such large asteroid 1950 AD is expected to hit the earth on March 16, 2880 AD. Like the "Deep Impact" many spacecrafts are required to be sent with high energy material to divert or break the asteroid to move it out of the earth orbit."

Still the boy was not satisfied, he again sent an email by asking what the probability of hitting the earth is? The email correspondence is continuing.

What are the messages emanating out these four questions? I am giving these queries from the young and my interaction, to all of you so that the experienced scientists and teachers should welcome such questions during the classes or during the interaction while they are giving the lectures elsewhere. Particularly it is very important to inject the beauty of science, challenge of science and bliss of science among the students who are between the age 14 and 17. This is the time the students make up their mind, whether they should go for science, engineering, medical, bio, law or humanities.

Now let me share with you some of the research areas in science that will challenge the young mind.


Science is borderless

Monsoon prediction worldwide is known. But accurate and timely prediction of onset of monsoon is a global research priority. Further, the quantum of rainfall in a particular area within a specified duration is not being determined by the present monsoon prediction system. Recent heavy rains in Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad and Katrina hurricane in US has created enormous loss of life and property. This brings out the necessity for global monsoon research for determining intensity and quantum of rain in a particular cloud condition. A mathematical model has to be evolved in predicting the quantum of rain for the particular cloud conditions. With this model, the researchers feel by deploying the new type of radar called Polarimetric radar, will provide the information for the particular cloud condition, how much rain will come in what period. Children you must have a vision and do research in some of the following research area apart from monsoon research which I have discussed earlier. This will bring the smiles in the faces of the people through out the world. I am sure many of you will be interested in such research areas.

1. In the energy sector, increasing the solar photovoltaic cell efficiency from the existing 12 to 14% to 45 to 50% using the technologies such as nano material (CNT - Carbon Nano Tube) and nano electronics based on the computer simulation for the optimization of the parameters and performance is an important mission.

2. Proteomics is the study of all the proteins expressed by the genome of a cell. It is the logical extension of genomics. Proteomics helps to understand the basic biological processes critical to normal cellular functions as well as the development of diseases. It identifies the essential components of these processes and exploits these components as targets in the development of new methods to prevent or treat diseases. The proteomics programme is done nationally. The type of work involved is huge and challenging, and much bigger than the Human genome programme. Sharing of missions by International Scientific community is vital.

3. In many places in our planet, we experience severe earthquakes resulting in loss of life, loss of wealth and in some cases it destroys the decades of progress made by the country and its valuable civilizational heritage. India has earthquake problems periodically in certain regions. Recently, in our state of Jammu and Kashmir and the neighbouring country, there was an earth quake. US, Japan, Turkey, Iran and many other countries also suffer due to earthquakes. It is essential to forecast the earthquake using multiple parameters using precursors such as pre-shock conditions, electromagnetic phenomena prior to final rupture and Atmospheric/ ionospheric anomalies

Solutions to these four problems: first relating to forecasting of monsoon, second relating to energy, third relating to healthcare and fourth relating to earthquake forecasting are vital for the growth of the society. The magnitude of the problem is such that it needs the pooling of best of researchers in multiple fields and also requires very intensive computing environment. In short the world should become a virtual laboratory with virtual computing environment leading to the Knowledge Grid across the world to solve the complex scientific challenges for enriching the humanity. Certainly children, you have a challenging environment before you. With your creative scientific mind, you can find a solution.



1. In Conclusion, I would request all of you to read the following three books during the year 2006 in addition to your course material.

a. Empires of the Mind : Lessons To Lead And Succeed In A Knowledge-Based by Denis Waitley

b. Journey into Light: Life and Science of C.V. Raman by G. Venkataraman

c. A Brief History of Time : From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen W. Hawking, Ron Miller, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking

2. All of you take the following Oath with me


Courage to think different,

Courage to invent,

Courage to discover the impossible,

Courage to combat the problems

And Succeed,

Are the unique qualities of the youth.

As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with

courage to achieve success in scientific discoveries.

3. All of you must think and write the answer to the question "What I will be remembered for?" You can send the answer to my e-mail ID : presidentofindia@rb.nic.in.

I congratulate the participants of 13th National Children?s Science Congress, 2005 and wish them all success in their scientific and development missions.

May God bless you.



1. I will pursue my education with dedication and I will excel in it.

2. I will teach at least 10 persons to read and write who at present cannot do so.

3. I will plant at least 10 saplings and shall ensure their growth through constant care.

4. I will visit rural and urban areas and permanently wean away at least 5 persons from addiction and gambling.

5. I will constantly endeavor to remove the pain of my suffering brethren.

6. I will not support any communal or linguistic differentiation.

7. I will be honest and set an example for others to follow.

8. I will work for becoming an enlightened citizen.

9. I will always be a friend of the mentally and physically challenged and will work hard to make them feel normal, like the rest of us.

10. I will proudly celebrate the success of my country and my people.


Question and Answer Session

M. Rashmi, Daspalla Girls High School, Nayagarh District

1. Were you like me in your child hood? If yes, can I become like you? I want to invent the reverse formula of Einstein?s Relative Theory.

Ans: Yes, generally all children are alike. They are innocent and bias free. You can definitely become like me. Please go ahead and invent the reverse formulae of Einstein.

Sumit Sahu, 9th Standard.

2. Why there is no proper eradication of blind beliefs and superstitions even though there is a enormous development in the field of science and technology?

Ans: The eradication of blind belief comes out of education. We have to realize 100% literacy to remove blind belief.

V. Jyothirmai

3. Bloom ??? Bloom where were you planted?

Ans: It is a good thought..

4. Does the black radiate? I read somewhere it does? Then can?t we discover a mirror to see the past again?

Ans: Black body absorbs heat.

S. Laavanyaa, Jeeva Velu School, Tamil Nadu.

5. Tell me your Excellency what are the ways to protect the ozone layer?

Ans: Reducing atmospheric pollution is one way of protecting the Ozone layer. Also, we should embark on improving our forest cover.

Master Mukul Bodhare

6. Can you give me your signature please?

Ans: You please send your postal address. I will send you a Knowledge Card.

Arobinda Brahma, PKD Orissa

7. Why that planet ?Uranus? looks green?

Ans: Uranus looks bluish-green because its atmosphere is made of methane.

Sanjeedha Amir, Salem.

8. Sir, we say Sun is a star but why it does not look like a star. It looks like a sphere.

Ans: All stars are spherical in shape.

Banasmita Kar

9. Sir, can you tell us or teach us how to be a good citizen. Coming from a poor family how you became a famous scientist and also a good President?

Ans: Credit for this goes to my father, mother and my elementary school teacher Shri Sivasubramania Iyer.

Subyani Nayak, Narayani Girls High School

10. How can we store the sound energy? What is the mathematical equation of Brownian movement of Albert Einstein?

Ans: We can not store sound energy as sound immediately disperses in the atmosphere. Einstein's first major achievement concerned Brownian movement, the random movement of fine particles that can be seen through a microscope, which was first observed in 1827 by Robert Brown when studying a suspension of pollen grains in water. The motion of the pollen grains increased when the temperature increased but decreased if larger particles were used. Einstein explained this phenomenon as being the effect of large numbers of molecules (in this case, water molecules) bombarding the particles.

B. Sukesh, Andhra Pradesh

11. Respected President, I want to know when India will become a "No Poverty" country?

Ans: Before 2020.

Govt. Boys? High School, Unit IX, BBSR

12. Water is coming to us in cyclical process still why we are feeling the pinch of water crisis?

Ans: It is true that water follows a cyclical process. But the water evaporated from one point does not come back to the same point as rain.

Vijay Sarov, DAV Public School

13. I have heard in T.V. that if we will travel in a high speed vehicle then we will be less old than other people?

Ans: Our age is dependent on time and not the distance covered on the earth.

Soumyaranjan Nayak, M.K.C. High School.

14. What is the different between the beauty of Universe and the beauty of science?

Ans: Beauty of science is the sub set of the beauty of Universe.

Abhishek Panigrahi, St. Xavier?s High School, Rayagada.

15. I often read and hear in news that Americans often receive prizes. What we should do for competing with them and win.

Ans: If you mean noble prize you have to work hard. You have to select a subject, acquire knowledge and work hard. The subject of your choice must become a life time mission. This will enable you to win many prizes.

Sobharam Buda, P.H.S. Arda, Class X

16. Orissa is mining area but backward State than others?

Ans: We have to mine the resources, value add and then market. This will make the State rich.

V. Mamith Kumar, St. Xaviers? School

19. Do the nuclear energy will increase the amount of Carbon monoxide in the environment?

Ans: No.

Ausik Mahapatra, DAV Public School, 9th Standard

20. What is the secret behind the Bermuda triangle?

Ans:"Bermuda or Devil's Triangle" is an imaginary area located off the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States, which is noted for a high incidence of unexplained losses of ships, small boats, and aircraft. Countless theories attempting to explain the many disappearances have been offered throughout the history of the area. The most practical seem to be environmental and those citing human error. The majority of disappearances can be attributed to the area's unique environmental features. First, the "Devil's Triangle" is one of the two places on earth that a magnetic compass does point towards true north.




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