Where does sunbird live?

Tiny jewels with wings - that would describe sunbirds perfectly. As the bird flies busily, dipping its long, down-curved beak deep into the flowers to suck at the nectar, its feathers glint with a metallic sheen when the light catches it. The amazing thing is that tiny though it is (measuring 10-12 cm), you can count a number of colors - crimson, green, orange, blue, scarlet, yellow and mauve - in a single bird! And it is only the males which sport these colours. The females are generally drab olive green or dull brown. The males are bigger and have longer tails. Sunbirds are distantly related to honeyeaters and hummingbirds. They have the same habit of hovering before a flower, their wings a blur of movement. Sometimes they hang upside-down, pushing their tube-like furry tongues into the centre of flowers which are trumpet-shaped or bell-shaped.

Nests are small, delicate cups, constructed mostly of cobwebs with a few strands of dried grass thrown in. Up to four tiny eggs are laid. Both male and female take turns in feeding the young.

There are 12 species of sunbirds in India and the commonest is the purple sunbird.

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What is the name of the smallest bear in the world?

The sun bear is the smallest bear species in the world. It gets its name from the yellow or creamy white mark on its chest that resembles the rising sun. It is also known as the Malayan bear.

Compared to the biggest bear species - the polar bear and the Kodiak or grizzly bear, which stand almost 3 metres (9.8 feet) tall and weigh around 635 kilos, the sun bear grows to about 1.2 metres (36 cm) in length and weighs around 40 kilos. It has a black coat and a light grey or orange nose. The feet are tipped with long sickle-shaped claws, which are sharper and curvier than in most other bear species. The soles are hairless.

Sun bears build nests in trees by breaking or bending the branches. They spend the day in the nests, sleeping and basking. They hunt only at night.

In 1978, the IUCN included the sun bear in its Red List of endangered species. Although its population has decreased due to hunting, a few thousand can still be found in the forests of the Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra, Myanmar, Borneo and Thailand.

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Why are stonefish so poisonous?

Stonefish is perhaps one of the world's best camouflaged fish. But it is also the most venomous. Found in shallow waters of the tropical Indo-Pacific, stonefish stay in the muddy or rocky bottoms of marine environments, living among rocks or coral. It may look like a stone on the ocean floor and deceptively stays blended with the ocean floor while hunting. The skin covered by wart-like lumps helps it in camouflage. It has venomous spines and when stepped on accidentally or there is a contact, it can sting. The sting is painful and can be fatal. Did you know that the fish is a delicacy in certain parts of Asia after its venomous spines are removed.

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What is a venomous lizard native to parts of the US and Mexico?

Native to the USA and Mexico, the Gila monster is a small, venomous lizard that is known to spend more than 90% of its life below the ground. As such you may not encounter the Gila monsters in the wild but bites are known to occur at times. The venomous lizard is known to use its venom only for defensive purposes. A mild neurotoxin, the venom of the creature is produced in the lizards' salivary glands. The saliva is toxic and is found to contain the hormone exendin-4 which could be used to treat type 2 diabetes. Although its venom is deadly, it also has potential medicinal use. While the lizard is strictly nocturnal, above-ground sightings of it are also seen during the day.

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Why is the box jellyfish so dangerous?

 

BOX JELLYFISH

The box jellyfish can perhaps be regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in the sea because of the deadly venom produced by some species. They dwell in the warm coastal marine waters. The deadliest species is the Chironex fleckeri or the Australian box jellyfish. It is also the largest species among the box jellyfish. The venom is considered deadly because of the toxins that can attack the nervous system, skin and heart. Death is known to occur quickly. Also called sea wasps and marine stingers, the box jellyfish are pale blue and transparent in colour. One look at the marine creature and you will know why it received the unique name. The distinct cube-like shape of their bell is how the name came about. Another interesting fact about box jellyfish is that they are highly advanced when compared to other jellyfish rather than drifting. They have developed the ability to move.

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What is a mother tongue and why is it called so?

A mother tongue, also known as a native language or first language, is the language that a person learns from birth or infancy within their family or community environment. It is called a mother tongue because it is typically taught by the mother or primary caregivers within the family setting. The term "mother tongue" (although a bit old-fashioned) emphasizes the intimate connection between a person's language and their familial and cultural background. It represents the language that is passed down from generation to generation within a particular community or cultural group, shaping the individual's identity, communication skills, and cultural heritage.

When does a language die?                                                                                     According to UNESCO, it is estimated that more than 40% of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken worldwide are endangered or at risk of extinction if no efforts are made to preserve and revitalise them. This means that over 2,800 languages are in danger of disappearing. Languages that have either no native speakers left or are on the verge of extinction, with very few speakers remaining are called dead or dying languages.

Why are languages dying?

The United Nations suggests that several factors influence the status and retention of a language within a community like:

• Poverty: In economically disadvantaged areas, access to education and resources may be limited, leading to lower levels of literacy and language proficiency. As a result speakers of minority or indigenous languages in impoverished regions may face challenges in preserving and transmitting their languages to future generations. Economic disparities can also contribute to language shift, as speakers may prioritise leaming the dominant language of the majority population in order to access opportunities for education, employment, and social mobility.

• Migration: When individuals or groups migrate to new countries or regions, they often encounter linguistic diversity and may need to leam the language(s) of the host society in order to communicate and integrate effectively. This can lead to language shift, particularly among second or thing-generation immigrants who may prioritise the majority language(s) for social, economic, and educational reasons.

• Complexity of language syntax the syntactic complexity of a language can influence its status and retention within a community. In communities facing socio-economic challenges or undergoing rapid socio-cultural changes, languages with difficult syntax may be perceived as barriers to communication, education, and social mobility. As a result, speakers may gradually shift towards simpler or more widely spoken languages that offer greater accessibility and utility in everyday interactions.

A mother tongue is crucial for a child's all-round development

• Cognitive development: Research suggests that children who are proficient in their mother tongue tend to develop stronger cognitive skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, and memory retention. This foundation in their first language provides a scaffold for learning additional languages and academic subjects.

• Emotional connection: The mother tongue is closely linked to a child's sense of identity, culture, and belonging. It forms the basis of communication within the family unit, fostering emotional connections and a sense of security when children are able to express themselves fluently in their mother tongue, they feel validated and understood which contributes to their overall well-being. Moreover, this connection to their cultural heritage instills a sense of pride and appreciation for diversity, fostering cultural continuity and resilience.

• Academic success: Research suggests that kids who receive education in their first language often perform better in school, as they are able to grasp complex concepts more easily and engage more actively in learning activities. Additionally, a strong foundation in the mother tongue provides a smoother transition to learning additional languages.

How Do We Save Our Mother Tongues

To safeguard our mother tongues, it is imperative that we take proactive measures. Parents can play a crucial role by introducing their children to rhymes and stories from their native languages. Teachers should advocate for linguistically appropriate curricula, particularly by prioritizing early education in mother languages. In 1999, countries globally adopted a resolution promoting multilingual education, yet the implementation often falls short. While schools mandate learning three languages, the focus on regional languages is often minimal. Shockingly, 40% of people worldwide lack access to education in their native language, leading to marginalized communities avoiding schools altogether. To address this, we must raise awareness and strive for more inclusive educational policies that honors and preserve our rich linguistic heritage.

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What are the characteristics of a slow loris?

SLOW LORIS

With its big eyes and cute face, slow Loris is perhaps one of the most adorable creatures in the wild. But it is also the world's only venomous primate. Native to the rainforests of South and Southeast Asia, the slow loris lives in trees. These lethal furballs are known for their bites that are loaded with venom. The animal's venom gets activated when its saliva mixes with an oil that is secreted by the gland on its upper arm. When threatened, the slow loris raises its arm. It then licks the gland and the saliva and oil mix produces the venom, which then goes to the animal's canines and is delivered to the victim through a bite. Its venom is said to cause anaphylactic shock and even death in humans...

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What makes the platypus different from most other animals?

PLATYPUS

The platypus has the most distinct features when compared to other marine animals. With a flattened head, a large bill, a paddle-like tail, and webbed feet, the platypus is perhaps one of the most visibly unique animals. And do you know what else is striking about them? They are also one of the few living venomous mammals.

The males among the semi-aquatic mammals are venomous and have a sharp set of spurs on their hind heels. These spurs are connected to the venom glands located over the thighs and are used in defense. Scientists have also found out that the venom contains a hormone that could help treat diabetes.

They are also known to use venom against other males.

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What countries make up Romania?

ROMANIA ~ LAND OF SURPRISES

Romanis is a country at the crossroads southeastern Europe. The country is brimming with natural, architectural and artistic treasures. This lesser known country is the largest of the Balkan countries. Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova are its neighbours and the Black Sea is on its coastline. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest.

Brief history

The name "Romania" comes from the Latin word "Romanus" which means "citizen of the Roman Empire." Numerous empires ruled the land, from the Romans and Ottomans to the Austro-Hungarians. Romania was part of both the world wars and got bombed severely in World War II. After the war, the country fell into communist rule for four decades, which ended in 1989 with the execution of the ruler Nicolae Ceauescu. The country went through a difficult phase during this time, transiting from communism to democracy. It signed the NATO treaty along with seven other countries in 2005. Eventually, it became part of the European Union in 2007. Today, Klaus Iohannis is the democratically elected President of Romania.

Geography

Mountains make up around a third of the country. The Carpathian Mountains are divided into three different major ranges - the Eastern, Western and Southern Carpathians (also called the Transylvanian Alps). Forests surround these Alps and the Caras-Severin county is a region full of unique landscapes. It has three national parks to its credit. The Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park is the most noted and the Bigar Cascade waterfalls here is a sight to behold. It is listed as the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. These forest regions are protected areas that are home to a variety of biodiversity, including many amphibians, birds, bats, and snakes. More than half of all brown bears in Europe can be found in these forests, accounting for almost 6000 in number.

There are over 3,000 lakes and many rivers. A few of them are glacial. The Scarisoara glacier underneath the Bihor mountains is more than 3,500 years old and is Europe's second-largest underground glacier. The Danbe River, which starts in Germany, travels through seven countries and flows into the Black Sea in Romania. Before flowing into the sea, it creates a delta, which is the second largest and best-preserved in Europe. The Delta is a UNESCO Biosphere Reservation and a protected natural habitat and wetland for rare species of animals and plants. The Danube to the Black Sea canal is the world's third-longest navigation route, after the Suez and the Panama canals. The statue of Dacian king Decebal, carved in the rocky bank of the river, is the tallest rock sculpture in Europe (135 feet tall).

Heritage

In total, Romania has to its credit around 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The most iconic landmarks are the churches. Sapanta Peri monastery, carved in wood by the people from Maramure, is the tallest church in the world. The Merry Cemetery is situated in the village of Sapana and is certainly unique. It features painted crosses with satirical epitaphs that reveal the message of the deceased to the living. The Black Church of Braov is another church that got its name after it got destroyed by fire. It has a magnificent Bucholz organ and the biggest collection of oriental carpets in Europe.

Other fascinating sites are the Transfagarasan Highway, Pele’s castle, the Palace of Parliament, Astra Museum of Folk Civilization, Crtureti Carusel bookstore and many more...

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What is the significance of radio in today's world?

Over 2 billion radio receivers and over 20,000 radio stations exist worldwide. There is no truth about the notion that radio will be replaced by TV or other modern communication technologies, as it continues to expand Being the most economical electronic medium to broadcast and receive in, it breaks down barriers of illiteracy and isolation, making it the preferred electronic medium of the underprivileged. In radio broadcasting, community radio is a significant third tier that is different from commercial and public service radio.

What is a Community Radio?

 

Community Radio Stations (CRSs) are low-power radio stations designed for local communities to own and run. Local perspectives on topics related to health, nutrition, education, agriculture, and other topics are provided in a forum by Community Radio. People may immediately relate to the Community Radio broadcast because it is in their native language. A source of regional folk music and cultural legacy, the radio is especially important in a country like India where each state has its own language and unique cultural flavour. Community radio stations have grown significantly in popularity and number in the last 20 years. The social and economic advantages that arise from providing regular people with access to relevant information are now becoming more widely recognized.

The history of community radio

It was in Latin America, around 50 years ago, that the groundbreaking experiences that have given rise to community radio. The initial experiences-known the Miners' Radios in Bolivia in 1947 and Radio as Sutatenza in Colombia that same year were sparked by poverty and social injustice. Community radio emerged as a significant phenomenon in Europe, serving as an opponent or substitute for mainstream broadcast media, despite the breakthrough work being done in Latin America. Following the fall of the colonial government in South Africa, community radio stations across the continent were established and eventually evolved into a social movement.

The Indian government published the first set of community radio guidelines and the necessary equipment in early 2003, but limited the eligibility to educational institutions alone. The goal of establishing community radio stations that would involve local communities in the content production process has just recently expanded to include non-profit organizations, agricultural research institutes, and educational institutions.

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Which church was built by British in Mumbai?

One of Mumbai’s oldest and most iconic church has made headline by announcing plans to become a recycle hub. Let us find out more about it.

St. Michael Church commonly known as Mahim Church - is one of Mumbai's oldest and most iconic places of worship. Built in 1534, when the city was under the control of the Portuguese, the church now serves about 10,000 people in the Mahim area.

St. Michael's is more than a sacred place for Catholics. Its special prayer services every Wednesday, called 'novenas,' draw people of various faiths who come to seek favours from the divine (e.g. cure for a sick relative, a good job, etc.) Many of the novena devotees bring floral garlands, candles, or other offerings. The candle wax and flowers are recycled.

The church, in fact, has become a recycling hub for a wide variety of wastes: plastic, tetra pak containers, electronics and other items. The Green Cell of the church, in partnership with other local organizations, helps with the recycling. In 2021, St. Michael Church made headlines by announcing plans to become the first place of worship to achieve carbon neutrality in two years. Of considerable importance is the 2 cubic-meter biogas unit set up on the terrace of the church building that is run on flower waste. This is the only biogas unit run on flower waste in the city. Mumbai produces an estimated 200 tons of this waste, most of which winds up in landfills. The church's weekly feed of 35-50 kg of flowers into the biogas unit is tiny compared to the waste in the city, but it has shown the path for adding value to waste recycling.

Fertiliser production

The biogas that the unit produces is equivalent to three LPG cylinders per year (worth Rs 4.500). However, the real value to the church is not the gas, but the liquid slurry that oozes out of the biogas unit. The slurry arry is used to fertilise over a hundred plants in the church compound.

"We receive a lot of flowers as offerings. Especially on Wednesdays, when around 50,000 people come for novena prayers. Earlier, the flowers used to go to the trash cans and get added to the waste piles in landfills," says a church spokesman. "We thought of doing something in which the flower wastes could be used to help the environment and so we decided to install a biogas plant," he adds.

Good example

The Mahim Church's good example could be followed by other places of worship. Collectively, they can provide an excellent platform for effecting a change in thinking and followed up by action among the millions of devotees. For example, the Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple in Tirupati Andhra Pradesh generates about seven tones of floral waste, 30-50 tones of food waste, and three tonnes of animal waste from the goshala, daily. It has been estimated that if all of these organic wastes are converted into compressed biogas, this could power some 100 local buses that carry devotees from Tirupati to Tirumala, where the temple is located, a distance of 18 kilometers. The temple authorities have begun to turn cow dung and food wastes into biogas and compost as a first step. In future, they might be able to turn biogas into compressed gas for motor vehicles.

ITC Limited, one of India's corporate giants headquartered in Kolkata, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tamil Nadu government to provide technical assistance to temples in waste management. As part of its 'Green Temple Initiative', ITC is helping 182 temples in the state to turn their flower waste into organic manure. Additionally, around 400 kg of cow dung from goshalas are turned into biogas to fuel the kitchens that prepare prasadam. This also helps the temples remain clean. A management team from ITC visited the Mahim Church to study its waste management system.

Hopefully, other corporate houses will start similar initiatives, as part of their corporate social responsibility, to assist other places of worship in addressing the challenge of managing the growing waste in the country.

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How dubbing changed the world of cinema?

Many of us watch foreign and other language movies or series in our own regional language and get the same feel as the original. These movies involve an intricate process called dubbing. Let us find out.

Dubbing is a post-production process of adding sound and dialogues into a media. It also involves replacing the original voice track with a synchronised translation in another language. Unlike voiceovers, dubbing is much more nuanced and complex. It is mostly done for movies and TV series, while it is also needed for animation movies, video games and music at times.

Dubbing helps in reaching a wider audience. It is categorised into three types namely lipsynced dubbing, time-synced dubbing and non-synced dubbing.

Origin of dubbing

With the invention of photograph (a device used to record sound), cinema began transitioning from the silent era to sound. Warner Bros. of Hollywood were pioneers who made new sound movies, called Vitaphone movies. These movies had a recording of an orchestra along with some sound effects that were synchronised perfectly with the moving images. Slowly 'talkies' were made, where movies incorporated dialogues as actors started talking to one another.

In 1930, a musical talkie by name 'Applause' was made by Rouben Mamoulian that first used dubbing. The director experimented the sound mixing by interlocking 35 mm audio tracks and began the dubbing practice. Eventually, more and more films started to record actors' dialogue after shooting scenes, then synchronising the sound to the scene. When actor Louise Brooks refused to reshoot their silent scenes in the movie The Canary Murder Case', the hiring of voice actors began.

Subs Vs Dubs

The debate on subtitles versus dubbing is still on. While there are people who don't like subtitles due to their pace and complexity, dubbing is preferred as it adds more emotion. But the catch is that, the results of dubbing has to be natural and organic. If the audio is poorly mixed or if any actors’ accent is incomprehensible, subtitles come in handy. They can also be used by those with hearing difficulties.

 Varied perspectives

Though dubbing allows for a deeper understanding and connection to the storyline, it is a time consuming and critical process for filmmakers. Some filmmakers have moved to sync sound which involves reconting the is sound while on the set to make the film more realistic This helped in reducing the post production cost and efforts. But filmmakers continued to rely on dubbing as it enhances the audio quality.

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What is Creative Destruction?

 

The eighties and nineties were the era of VHS tapes. Invented by the Japanese company JVC, Video Home System (VHS) - or the 'deck' as it was locally known - was an instant hit around the world. Even in small towns of India, video shops that rented VHS players and cassettes were a lucrative business.

The era, however, did not last long. Along came the Compact Discs. Music, movies, data files - the flashy CDs could store anything. They could be played on TVs (hooked with CD players) and computers. Today, whatever CDs are left behind are used as reflectors on bicycles or for art-from-waste projects.

Streaming and cloud storage have made the CD obsolete, just like its predecessor. Tomorrow, the streaming system could be replaced with something else. This process of evolution of technology - from VHS tapes to streaming platforms or landline phones to smartphones - is called Creative Destruction.

The technological advancements defined above are recent, but the concept of creative destruction has been defined and debated by economists, sociologists, and political thinkers since the 19th century. The industrial revolution and colonialism were the two defining historical events that shaped its definition.

Foundational theories

 Creative Destruction is a critical component of the capitalist system of economics and politics.Yet, a first clear definition for the  process was given by the father of communism –an opposing economic and political throught Karl Marsx. Though he did not use the term Creative Destruction, he defined the concept as a ‘’contant upheaval and change within the capitalist system.’’

In his exhaustive work tirled, ‘capital; Acriyique of Political Economy; published as three volumes in 1867, 1885, and 1894. Marx writes: "The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society."

This encapsulates the process of technological innovations that we see today. Take for instance the case of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is the new "instrument of production that is replacing older technologies and even humans in some cases. As a result, the "relations of production also changes, with new skills becoming essential for upward mobility in the job market. The "relations of society" has also changed as engineers with Al skills now draw higher pay packages compared to engineers in other sectors.

Much later, in the 20th Century, German economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized the term Creative Destruction, which was coined by another.

German economist Werner Sombart. In his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democraay, published in 1942. Schumpeter extrapolates the Marxist thought to describe the destructive process of a transformation caused by innovation for instance, the slow death of landline phones.

Schumpeter says Capitalism is a method of economic change which can never be stationary. The fundamental impulse that keeps the system running is new consumer goods, new methods of producing or transporting them, new markets to sell them, and new forms of organisations that the system creates. This is a fairly accurate description of how businesses work in our world today.

Modem examples

Schumpeters work is pretty accurate in defining the current startup era. He says innovative entry by entrepreneurs is the disruptive force that sustains economic growth, even as it destroys the value of established companies that enjoyed some degree of monopoly. A classic example for this is the case of social media eating into the market control of mainstream medin

However, Schumpeter was pessimistic about the sustainability of this process. Seeing it as leading eventually to the undermining of capitalism's own institutional frameworks. The capitalist process in much the same way in which it destroyed the institutional framework of feudal society abo undermines its own, he said.

Today, most technology majors are focussed on continuous innovations that push boundaries of human imagination. As we grapple to get a grasp over the everevolving trends in technology, its important to leam about the great minds that prophesied this era.

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Which Chief Minister was arrested in India?

The Enforcement Directorate arrested the former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on January 31 in connection with a land scam case. The arrest came as soon as he resigned as the Chief Minister. Following his arrest, which has been challenged in the court of law, tribal bodies announced protests across the State.

Meanwhile, Champai Soren took over as the new Chief Minister. He also underwent a floor test to prove his party's majority in the House. "At present we have 43 MLAs and four are in hospital. We have the support of 47 MLAs. The Governor is yet to give the time to form the government," Champai Soren told the media ahead of the trust vote last week. To form the government, the ruling alliance needs only 41 MLAs.

The newly formed government passed the confidence motion in the State Assembly. The Jharkhand Mukti CM Champai Soren (left) with Hemant Soren.

Morcha with 29 seats and its ally Congress with 17 were confident of easily sailing through the trust vote. Hemant Soren was also present in the Assembly to attend the floor test. A special court in Ranchi allowed Soren to participate in the trust-vote.

What is a trust vote?

A trust vote, also known as a confidence motion or vote of confidence, is a parliamentary procedure where members of the Legislative Assembly or Parliament vote to express their confidence or lack of confidence in the government. When a government is formed, it needs to prove that it has the support of the majority of the members of the legislative body. If the government loses a trust vote, it typically means that it no longer enjoys the majority support and is expected to resign, leading to either the formation of a new government or fresh elections.

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Who was the first person to float freely in space?

Images from space that show earth as nothing more than a blur of blue tug at our hearts in a way that can’t be put into words. The ones that you see here, while evoking such emotions, are also iconic in their own right. This is because they show the first human ever to walk untethered in space. The subject of these photographs is NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II.

Born in Boston in 1937, McCandless did his schooling at Long Beach, California and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1958. He then obtained his Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1965, and eventually also ended up with a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Houston in 1987.

Communicator role

A retired U.S. Navy captain, McCandless was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as the mission control communicator for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their famous 1969 Apollo 11 mission, which included the first human landing on the moon. McCandless, in fact, famously felt let down by Armstrong as the latter hadn’t revealed ahead what he had planned to say while setting foot on the moon.

McCandless flew as the mission specialist on two space shuttles, STS-41B in 1984 and STS-31 in 1990. While the 1984 mission saw him become the first human to perform an untethered spacewalk, he helped deploy the Hubble Space Telescope during the 1990 mission.

Helps develop MMU

Apart from these, McCandless also served as a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 14 mission and was a backup pilot for the first crewed Skylab mission. For the M-509 astronaut manoeuvring experiment that was flown in the Skylab programme, McCandless was a co-investigator. He collaborated on the development and helped design what came to be known as the MMU – manned manoeuvring unit.

The STS-41B was launched on February 3, 1984. Four days later, on February 7, McCandless stepped out of the space shuttle Challenger into nothingness. As he moved away from the spacecraft, he floated freely without any earthly anchor.

"Heck of a big leap for me"

“It may have been a small step for Neil, but it’s a heck of a big leap for me,” were McCandless’ first words. If the mood at mission control had been apprehensive before, the raucous laughter that followed this comment certainly reduced the tension - a fact that was confirmed by his wife, who was also at mission control. McCandless would later say that his comment was consciously thought out and that it was his way of saying things were going okay, apart from getting back at Armstrong for not revealing his words in 1969.

The images that were shot then, showing McCandless spacewalking without tethers, gained widespread fame. The spacewalk was the first time the MMU that he helped develop was used. These nitrogen-propelled, hand-controlled devices afforded much greater mobility to their users as opposed to restrictive tethers used by previous spacewalkers.

Fellow astronaut Robert L. Stewart later tried out the MMU that McCandless first used. Two days later, both of them tried another similar unit with success. By February 11, the STS-41B mission was complete as the Challenger safely landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre.

In one of his last interviews, before his death in December 2017, McCandless told National Geographic what he had probably told countless others who wanted to know how it was out there.

Fun, but cold

While he always maintained that it was fun, he also adds that the single thing that disturbed him as he moved away from the shuttle was that he got extremely cold, with shivers and chattering teeth.

The reason for that is pretty straightforward. While he had prepared for that moment for years, he wasn’t prepared for the temperature in the suit. As the suit was designed to keep astronauts comfortable while working hard in a warm environment, even the H (hot) position on the life support system actually provided minimal cooling. Considering that McCandless wasn’t really performing strenuous labour during the first hours of his untethered spacewalk, he felt cold. That’s a small price to pay for becoming the first-ever human to walk freely in space.

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