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National Awards 2022: Suriya, Ajay Devgn Share Best Actor, Soorarai Pottru Best Film

NEW DELHI, July 22: The winners of the 68th National Film Awards were announced in New Delhi. The Best Actor award for the year is to be shared by Suriya and Ajay Devgn for their work in Soorarai Pottru and Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior respectively.

This is Suriya's first National Award and Ajay Devgn's third - he won Best Actor for his 1998 film Zakhm and 2002's The Legend Of Bhagat Singh.

Soorarai Pottru, based on events in the life of Simplifly Deccan founder G Gopinath, also won Best Feature Film, Best Actress for Aparna Balamurali, Best Screenplay and Best Background Score.

Tanhaji, a historical film about legendary Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare, won the award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

Malayalam thriller Ayyappanum Koshiyum won two big awards - K R Sachidanandan, known professionally as Sachy, won Best Director posthumously and Biju Menon won Best Supporting Actor. Sachy died of a cardiac arrest in 2020 at the age of 47.

Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli was awarded Best Supporting Actress for her work in Sivaranjaniyum Innum Sila Pengalum which also won Best Tamil Film as well as Best Editing.

Toolsidas Junior was awarded Best Hindi Film with a special jury mention for child actor Varun Buddhadev.

Dollu won Best Kannada Film and Best Location Sound. Avijatrik won Best Bengali Film and Best Cinematography.

Colour Photo won Best Telugu Film, Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam won Best Malayalam Film.

Madhya Pradesh was picked as the Most Film-Friendly State with Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh receiving special mentions.

The feature film jury this year is headed by filmmaker Vipul Shah; the awards were announced by jury member and cinematographer Dharam Gulati.

The National Film Awards will be handed out in a ceremony later this year.

The world's strongest passport is Japan. India's rank is 87th

LONDON, July 20: Japan, Singapore and South Korea have topped the Henley Passport Index - which uses exclusive data from the International Air Transport Authority - to rank 199 passports. The Asian giants' top ranking reverses pre-pandemic rankings dominated by European nations.

A Japanese passport provides visa-free access to 193 countries, one more than those from Singapore and South Korea. Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, is ranked 50th, with access to 119 nations. Ukraine is ranked 35th with access to 144 nations.

China is placed 69th with access to 80 countries.

India is 87th and Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan bring up the rear. The Taliban-ruled country's passport offers hassle-free access to only 27 countries.

The index defines the strength of diplomatic relations of any one country with others; essentially, the more one country has 'ease of access' to others, the higher its ranking.

The index helps wealthy individuals and governments assess the value of citizenships around the world, based on which passports offer the most prolific visa-free, or visa-on-arrival access. However, with global travel yet to fully recover from Covid restrictions, the index offers only a notional snapshot of the best documents to hold as of this quarter.

Deepest image of the early universe captured by NASA's Webb telescope

WASHINGTON, July 12: The James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful to be placed in orbit, has revealed the clearest image to date of the early universe, going back 13 billion years, US space agency NASA said Monday.

The stunning shot, released in a White House briefing by President Joe Biden, is overflowing with thousands of galaxies and features some of the faintest objects observed, colorized in blue, orange and white tones.

Known as Webb's First Deep Field, it shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which acts as a gravitational lens, bending light from more distant galaxies behind it towards the observatory, in a cosmic magnification effect.

Webb's primary imager NIRCam -- which operates in the near infrared wavelength spectrum because light from the early universe has been stretched out by the time it reaches us -- has brought these faint background galaxies into focus.

Webb compiled the composite shot in 12.5 hours, achieving well beyond what its predecessor the Hubble Space Telescope could in weeks.

"Fantastic -- galaxies upon galaxies upon galaxies," Jonathan Lunine, chair of the astronomy department at Cornell University, said, rejoicing with the rest of the global astronomy community.

"Even though this is by no means the farthest Webb can see, it's the deepest image ever taken, and shows the power of this remarkable telescope: tremendous sensitivity, a broad range of wavelengths, and sharp image clarity."

Avi Loeb, a professor of astronomy at Harvard, explained the reddish arcs are the ancient galaxies, while the light colored circles and ellipses belong to the younger galaxy cluster in the foreground.

He added he was "thrilled" about the idea of Webb looking even closer to the Big Bang, back some 13.8 billion years ago.

The next set of images will be released Tuesday, revealing details about the atmosphere of faraway planets, "stellar nurseries" where stars form, galaxies locked in a dance of close encounters, and the cloud of gas around a dying star.

Biden conveyed a sense of awe that Webb is documenting universe imagery from some 13 billion years ago.

"It's hard to even fathom," the president said.

"These images are going to remind the world that America can do big things and remind the American people, especially our children, that there's nothing beyond our capacity."

Carina Nebula, a stellar nursery, is famous for its towering pillars that include "Mystic Mountain," a three-light-year-tall cosmic pinnacle captured in an iconic image by Hubble.

Webb has also carried out a spectroscopy -- an analysis of light that reveals detailed information -- on a gas giant planet called WASP-96 b, which was discovered in 2014.

Nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, WASP-96 b is about half the mass of Jupiter and zips around its star in just 3.4 days.

Nestor Espinoza, an STSI astronomer, said that previous exoplanet spectroscopies carried out using existing instruments were very limited compared to what Webb could do.

"It's like being in a room that is very dark and you only have a little pinhole you can look through," he said of the prior technology. Now, with Webb, "You've opened a huge window, you can see all the little details."

Launched in December from French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket, Webb is orbiting the Sun at a distance of a million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth, in a region of space called the second Lagrange point.

Here, it remains in a fixed position relative to the Earth and Sun, with minimal fuel required for course corrections.

A wonder of engineering, the total project cost is estimated at $10 billion, making it one of the most expensive scientific platforms ever built, comparable to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Webb's primary mirror is over 21 feet (6.5 meters) wide and is made up of 18 gold-coated mirror segments. Like a camera held in one's hand, the structure must remain as stable as possible to achieve the best shots.

Charlie Atkinson, chief engineer on the James Webb Space Telescope program at lead contractor Northrop Grumman, said that it wobbles no more than 17 millionths of a millimeter.

After the first images, astronomers around the globe will get shares of time on the telescope, with projects selected competitively through a process in which applicants and selectors don't know each other's identities, to minimize bias.

Thanks to an efficient launch, NASA estimates Webb has enough propellant for a 20-year life, as it works in concert with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to answer fundamental questions about the cosmos.

 



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