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A Tribute to the Amby

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 by Blogpur

I fondly named the beast "amby" back in 1996 after travelling in it many many times. "Cargil" said the advertisement for it in 2001. That pretty much sums up the story of the Ambassador. It is a dutiful warrior. The shape in today's world is pathetic, the curves are better on an elephant, a common lawnmower has a better engine, yet the amby trudges along. It may splutter, it may scream but it never gives up.

In today's world of Honda, Hyundai etc, HM no longer has a market share. On the road it is a different matter, regardless of the state of Indian roads, regardless of the number of cows, goats and people on the road the Official Indian Government car still silently pushes by.

The Ambassador is well past its heyday when it comes to passenger comfort, yet there is one feature in it that is yet to be matched by any car. That feature is the small triangular window for front seat passengers. Sitting in other cars the front seat passengers dont get any wind or air from outside but with this little invention the Amby saves the day.

I've been (literally) from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in this little beast and not once has it given up. The thing is made of complete metal and parts don't fall off when the door closes. The Amby is one in a million, now if only they could get the damn styling right...

CFC's and the Atmosphere - An Analysis

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 by Blogpur

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are gases formed synthetically by replacing all hydrogen atoms in the methane [CH4(g)] or ethane [C2H6(g)] with chlorine and/or fluorine atoms. For example, CFC-12 [CF2Cl2 (g), dichlorodifluoromethane] is formed by replacing the four hydrogen atoms in methane with two chlorine atoms and two fluorine atoms.

Ozone reductions since the late 1970s correlate with increases in chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere. Molina and Rowland (1974) first recognised that chlorine compounds could destroy stratospheric ozone. Since then, scientists have strengthened the links among global ozone reduction, Antarctic ozone depletion, and the presence of chlorine and bromine containing compounds in the stratosphere.

Origins of CFCs and Halons
Thomas Midgley and his assistants in Ohio, USA, invented chlorofluorocarbons in 1928. Midgley and his assistants developed CFC-12 effectively on the same day that a representative of General Motor’ Frigidaire division asked Midgley to find a non-toxic, non-flammable substitute for an existing refrigerant, ammonia, a flammable and toxic gas. CFC-12 and subsequent CFCs were inexpensive, non-toxic, non-flammable, nonexplosive, insoluble, and chemically unreactive under tropospheric conditions; thus they became popular.

Midgley demonstrated the non-toxic and non-flammable properties of his invention to the American Chemical Society in April 1930 by inhaling CFC-12 then blowing it over a candle flame, extinguishing the flame. Along with the use as a refrigerant, CFCs and halogens were specifically used as propellants.

In 1943, Goodhue and Sullivan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed a method to use CFC-11 and CFC -12 as a propellant in spray cans. CFCs flowed out of the spray can’s nozzle, carrying with them a mist containing other ingredients. CFCs were used to propel hair spray, paints, deodorants, disinfectants, polishes and insecticides. They were also used marginally in air conditioners.

Through leakages in the spraying cans, refrigerants as well as general use, these CFC particles then escaped into the atmosphere and while they were, as stated, unreactive in tropospheric conditions, they however found their way into the stratosphere where they reacted violently with sunlight to destroy Ozone molecules.

Halons in the form of Bromofluorocarbons are also found in the atmosphere, they have been released from fire extinguishers where they were used extensively until the London Protocol of 1990. Halon 1211 (CClF2Br) as well as Halon 1301 (CF3Br) were extensively used in non-electrical related fires and were found to be extremely effective, however when they reacted under stratospheric conditions also formed free radicals and tended to cause disturbances to the ozone level, they have as such been limited in their usage.

Problems Associated with the use of CFCs

CFCl3 (g) UV CFCl2 (g)+ Cl(g)

CF2Cl2(g) UV CF2Cl(g) + Cl(g)

From the above equation it is seen that the unbonded Cl is a free radical, which then reacts with Ozone under UV light.

Cl (g)+ O3 (g) UV ClO (g)+ O2(g)

ClO(g) + O(g) UV Cl(g) + O2(g)

As can be seen this is a repetitive process. The Cl, which breaks the ozone in the first process, is then regenerated in the second process and the reaction keeps occurring. This is why just one molecule of Cl has the capacity to destruct over 1000 molecules of Ozone.

CFCs are extremely dangerous to the natural environment. This is because they have the tendency to break down ozone molecules in the stratosphere. This has direct consequences for living beings on earth.

In the absence of the stratospheric ozone layer, most UV-C radiation would penetrate to the surface of the earth, destroying bacteria, protozoa, algae, fungi, plants and animals in a short time. Fortunately, the ozone layer absorbs almost all UV- C radiation. Ozone also absorbs most UV-B radiation, but some of this radiation penetrates to the surface. UV-B radiation affects human and animal health, terrestrial ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems, biogeochemical cycles, air quality and materials.

Increases in UV-B radiation have potential to affect the skin, eyes and immune system of humans. They layers of skin affected by UV-B are the epidermis (the outer protective layer of skin) and often as a result cancerous cells form here, melanoma is a common problem.

To alleviate these problems the Montreal Convention of 1987 was set-up wherein all developed countries were banned from using CFCs. This is a good step however because CFC in the stratosphere has a cyclical process many of the CFCs released in the 1980’s and 1990’s are taking their effect now. The CFCs released by many countries even now do not have an immediate effect; it takes years before they react and then destruct the ozone.

Since then in the London, Copenhagen and again Montreal protocols more stringent measures have been taken to stop expulsion of CFCs as well as HCFCs. Research now indicates a lessening in the rate of depletion - which in effect accepts that much good work has gone into controlling and restricting the usage of CFCs. Buffer systems have also been set up but these tend to be very sporadic and not very effective, however they have caused an improvement in lessening the rate of Cl radicals available in the stratosphere.

In direct relation with humans, Sun Lotion is an accepted and necessary item that is used to block UV-B rays from affecting the skin and subsequently causing cancer; it has been extremely effective.

Changes in Atmospheric Ozone Concentrations
About 90% of all ozone molecules in the atmosphere reside in the stratosphere; most of the remaining molecules reside in the troposphere. Whereas ozone molecules near the surface harm humans, animals, plants and trees, and structures, the same ozone molecules, whether in the stratosphere or in polluted air, shield the Earth from harmful UV radiation.

A measure of the quantity of ozone in the air is the ozone column abundance, which is the sum of all ozone molecules above a square centimetre of surface between the ground and the top of the atmosphere. When this number is divided by a constant (2.7x1016), the result is the column abundance in Dobson Units (DU). Thus 1DU is equivalent to 2.7x1016 molecules of ozone per square centimetre of surface. Gordon Dobson also, in 1920, built the first instrument, now called the Dobson Spectrometer, to measure total ozone column abundance from the ground. In 2000, the globally averaged column abundance of ozone from 90S to 90N (in degrees) was 293.4DU.

The Dobson Spectrometer is an instrument, which determines the differences in atmospheric attenuation of solar UV radiation across spectral lines centred on 320nm. Satellite measurements are also being made of both total column ozone and vertical variation, using ultraviolet radiation back scattered from the atmosphere.

Ozone production is at a maximum in the tropical stratosphere. The Earth’s meridional circulation pattern then transports the ozone towards the Poles, with preference for the winter pole. Hence the latitudinal ozone distribution shows that total column amounts are higher towards the poles than in equatorial regions, and that the peak values are reached in March/April in the northern hemisphere and September/October in the southern hemisphere.

Between 1979 and 2000, the global stratospheric ozone column abundance decreased from 304DU to 293.4DU.

Between 1950 and 1980, no measurements from three ground stations in the Antarctica showed ozone levels less than 220 DU, a threshold for defining Antarctic ozone depletion. Every Southern Hemisphere spring since 1980, measurements of stratospheric ozone have shown depletion. In 1985 a 30% decrease was shown as compared to 1980 measurements. Since then, measurements over the South Pole have indicated depletions of up to 70% of the column ozone for a period of a week in early October. In September 2000, Antarctica recorded the largest depletion for the month with some 30.8% being wiped off in comparison to 1980’s figures. The large reduction of stratospheric ozone over the Antarctic in the Southern Hemisphere spring each year is Antarctic Ozone Hole. This area is now greater than the size of North America.

In effect, the greatening of these holes directly correlates with global warming (due to UV radiation) as well as health problems caused by UV-B rays which humans are now exposed to.

Alternatives to CFCs
As early as 1974 scientists were hypothesising that CFCs were destroying ozone and during late 1974 legislation was introduced to the US Congress to study the problem with greater depth and regulate usage of the CFCs. However the legislation was truncated without much thought. In 1975 a bill was passed to label all spray cans as to whether they contain CFCs or any other chemicals. With statistics coming in about the loss in stratospheric ozone, by about 1980, the US proposed limiting CFC use within its country but as a new president was coming in at the time this approach was also truncated.

In September 1987 a second international agreement (the first had been the Vienna conference) was signed by 27 countries limiting the use of CFCs and Halons in developed countries throughout the world. There have been modifications to allowances in 1990, 1992 and finally in 1997 once again at Montreal. The purposes were to wipe out use of CFCs.

Around 1980 scientists looked towards Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC). These compounds are easily attacked by free radicals but since they contain a C -H bond they are limited as to how much they can destroy the ozone. The decomposition of HCFCs is very little compared to what a CFC is capable of. Although the ozone destroying capabilities of CFCs is far less compared to CFCs, they still contain Cl atoms and as such still pose a significant threat. In the 1990 London Convention HCFCs were chosen as the temporary substitute for CFCs.

It was noticed by scientists that HCFCs only reduce the problem but the problem still exists so in 1992 at the Copenhagen Convention HCFCs were also rejected in favour of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs do not contain any Cl molecules and as such do not contain any properties, which could cause destruction to the ozone layer. They contain C-H bonds but not C-Cl bonds. HFCs are used in all aspects where CFCs and HCFCs had previously been used. HFCs are generally more expensive than CFCs or HCFCs and as such have not had great success in developing countries. In Australia only HFCs are used conclusively as the next generation CFC. As such it is used as refrigerant, a propellant and even used in the production of some plastics.

HFCs are a viable and environmentally friendly alternative to CFCs. They present all the benefits and uses of CFCs and HCFCs without providing any drawbacks in terms of ozone destruction. They are priced similarly; if a little higher, than ordinary CFCs and as such do not have many financial or economic limitations on manufacturers and consumers.

1. Jacobson M (2002). Atmospheric Pollution. Cambridge, United Kingdom
2. Colls J (1997). Air Pollution. E&FN, Spain
3. Smith R (2001). Conquering Chemistry HSC Course. McGraw Hill, London
4. Bach W (1972). Atmospheric Pollution. McGraw Hill, London
5. http://www.ttgv.org.tr/tur/02_ttgv_hakkinda/cfc.gif
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haloalkane
7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion
8. http://www.epa.gov/ozone/ USA Environmental Protection Agency (2002)

Garfield - 1

Saturday, November 12, 2005 by Blogpur

Every Saturday from now on, I plan to upload some of my favourite Garfield comic strips. All pictures are taken from Garfield.com.


Saturday, November 05, 2005 by Blogpur

"Do I dare disturb the universe? - T.S. Elliot"

"We interrupt this program for a police message. The Dullwich case robbery has been bungled and there are criminals on the loose."

A light smirk appeared across my face. Criminals and the corrupt was a way of life. Something that was now intrinsic to me. I lit a cigarette and sat there motionless, the spiralling wafts of smoke gently rose from my face. The rain was merciless outside, as was the night, the night never went away, it always came back with the criminals.

Out of the darkness the telephone rang. I was in no mood to pick it up. One sorry murder after another. The streets of Los Angeles were not that nice. Not like what they sold to you in the movies. There were no Orange groves here, there were murders and plenty of them.

"Yes, this is Renault speaking...what?...yes right away."

Sometimes it wasn't about the murder, sometimes it could be differnt. Today was different, tonight was different.

My rather large gut took its time to rise from the chair after a prolonged rest there. My longish face with plenty of wrinkles under the eyes and hair white around the temples struggled to cope with the job at hand. It was 2am. I took my coat, my cigarettes and armed myself with a revolver and went outside.

I hailed a cab. I told to the driver to proceed to 20th and Church.

"You're cut" the driver told me. "Well it's a pity you ain't a woman" I retorted.

He got me there dutifully in 20 minutes. There was a dead body near a woman about 10 metres from where Iwas. I walked over. I thought that this was going to be different. It turned out to be the same as any other day.

"Is this the man that called me m'am, is he Archie Leach?"

The woman was in a serious state of shock, she hadn't seen anything like his before. She was erratric and shivering profusely. She didn't respond. Yet at the same time, I sensed a real power within the woman, she wasn't spitting out fear, she was conjuring it.

"M'am I'm here to help. My name is Viktor Renault and I was called here. Is this man Archie Leach?"

She nodded but was quiet.

"Ok m'am we'll get you to a hospital."

It was the usual, man D.O.A. On the way to the hospital, I tried cajoling her although I wasn't much of shrink.

"M'am you can help me out here, what did you see, did you see the killer?"

"No, I didn't see anyone." She was really pushing it, her health wasn't all that good.

"Anything else m'am?"

"I heard two men run away into the distance after hearing a single shot fired. It sounded like it came from far away."

"Allright m'am, that was very useful, you take some care now."

We arrived at the hospital, I got her a placement. The doctor named Spade was a man who enthused with profiligate celebrity but he was professional nonetheless. He informed me that Miss Leach was in a state of shock and that she would take a couple of days to recover.

I left her after telling her that I will back the next day and went back to the office. I parked myself in the char. The rain was relentless. Some day a real rain would come and wash the scum off the street. That day wasn't this day, it would never be. I waited and waited and waited, waiting almost became a hobby.

I did some research on that man Leach. He was rich. Richer than I expected. Two estates, one here in Los Angeles, another in France. He had stocks in TWA and Pan-Am. Once again, the telephone rang.

"Just what is it do you think you're doing Renault? This is a police case and will be treated as such, you're going to lay off you understand?"

It was Dundy.

"Dundy, don't give me all that jurisdiction crap, the man called me, this is mine. And besides, it's been a long time since Iwas unhappy that a policeman didn't like me. I don't cry for that anymore you know?"


"You can tell that to Polhaus if you want, but this one's mine."

"You take chances Renault."

"I'm paid to."

He hung up. This was my one. Besides, the police needed me anyway. They liked to act as if they don't, but they do. They really do. I called Rachel. She was, for some reason, awake at this ungodly hour. I told her to run some more background checks on Archie Leach. I also told her to get me news on the Dullwich robberies. She did it all, even at 4am.

"You're an angel, angel"

I drove to St. Albert's only to find Mrs. Leach in a state of vile depression. Vile depression seemed the adequate description of her condition. I didn't know why she was like that. Only one way to find out.

"What's wrong?"

"My brother in law, he's dead - shot dead."

You start the ball rolling and it just doesn't stop.

"Look m'am, you can call me Viktor and I am here to help. I assure you that I will get to the bottom of this, all of it. I can feel your pain."

I really couldn't feel her pain, to me she was one of them, another person in society who lost some loved ones, big deal, happens all the time. I've seen too much for this type of melodramatic crap.

"Why would they hurt Archie, why would they hurt Randy?"

I assumed Randy was her brother in law.

"What were you doing at that time of night on that street when I found you?"

"We went ot the restaurant earlier in the evening and decided to take a cab home. The driver dropped us off there as he was busy or something. We didn't complain, just a short walk on a nice night. "

"Why did your husband call me? From your account so far I assume that he called from this restaurant. Which restaurant was it?"

"Tony's Italian one"

Nothing like the mob.

"So why did he call me?"

"I don't know."

"I do. He was getting worried. Do you know about the Dullwich case?"

She shook her head. How could anyone not know about the Dullwich case -- still I took her word for it.

I left after showing her some sympathy and a little empathy to match. I went back to the office. A queer man was out in the rain. He was looking at everything but my office. He was no more than a lad of 18 or 20. He wasn't nervous as such but he wasn't exactly smooth as butter either.

"Ok kid, you want to come in? Or do you want me to pull you in?"

"What? Is it a crime to look a the street?"

"Sure it is, when you've got a revolver in your hand."

He walked in, he knew I won. No two ways about it.

"So what's all this about?"


"Don't waste my time kid, I've got work to do."

God, what an aweful cliche, I heard stuff like that in some of those Bogart and Cagney movies, I was losing my touch, for the moment anyway.

The kid stared at me.

"Who sent you?"


"Is that so... funny because your wallet says a man named Herbert is your benefactor. Any comments buddy boy?"

Ahh, thats better, I should really stop watching those movies, nearly lost my touch. Got it back though.

"Ok, Herbert did send me."

He tried to disarm me. I knocked him to the ground. He came to about half an hour later, by that time I knew more about him than his mother probably did. He asked for his wallet back. I obliged.

"You know Leach did it?"

"Ok you're going kid, you hear me?"

He left at that time, he was alarmed and shocked. I had something to go buy.

I took a trip down to the hospital again. Interrogation time.

"Do you know who William Herbert Shaw is?"


"Do you?"

"He was an acquaintance..."

"...and a husband" I added.

"Listen here mister. If you think he has anything to do with this, you're sorely mistaken."

"I could be mistaken, I could also be right"

"Allright mister, I don't need you. I have friends"

"No no, I really want to help. I really do."


I left her. This was going in a different direction to where I thought it was going the first time around. Damsel in Distress didn't look much in distress to me anymore, though I couldn't rule anything out. My partner once said to me "Keep your ears open, your mouth shut and brain ticking", I'm still following that.

I went to the office and checked out about this Herbert character. Rachel had come in for the day and brought me a pile of papers on Leach and the Dullwich case. I took a glance at them. I lit the cigarette again. It had been a while since I did, running around here and there, my lungs gleefully accepted.

Sidney, the punk kid came to see me again.

"What are you doing with this pile? I told you it was Leach already."

"Stop disturbing me kid"

"Disturb you? What's the harm in that. Leach disturb the city, disturbed the universe"

"Quite a lot, because I'm coming after whoever did it."

"Coming after Leach, Gail Leach you mean?"

"I don't know"

"I do"

He kicked me to the ground. I woke up after some three hours. I was tied up. A gruff voice came from behind me. It wasn't the kid.

"He told you it was Leach right? Why did you go on?"


This case was far from solved.

What is she looking at?

Friday, November 04, 2005 by Blogpur

I chanced to find this photograph on the net. For some reason it interests me greatly. Any comments?


Tuesday, November 01, 2005 by Blogpur

Regardless of what you want to call it (Diwali or Deepavali), my best wishes for the day and the function. Happy Diwali!


"This isn't right, this isn't even wrong." - Wolfgang Pauli.

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