From my new blog, When Worlds Collide, where this appears at:

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Published in Ceylon Today newspaper, Sunday 5 February 2012

With or without our knowledge, worlds are colliding all around us, all the time. It happens in both physical and metaphorical realms.

The night sky might appear calm and serene to us, but the universe is a violent and constantly changing place. Astrophysicists are still unravelling the forces at work – they describe our Solar System as an ‘oasis of calm’ in comparison.

That’s relative, of course. Everything is always in motion – the Sun (our local star), planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets are all moving in their orbits, sometimes crossing paths of others. Luckily, space is big enough and empty enough to get by without crashing into each other.

Once in a while, however, near-misses or actual collisions are inevitable. Millions on Earth watched through telescopes a memorable recent event when Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter in July 1994.

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Malima episode #2: New ideas – from robot arms to simplified traffic lights…

Malima (New Directions in Innovation) is a Sinhala language TV series on science, technology and innovation produced and first broadcast by Sri Lanka’s Rupavahini TV channel on 26 January 2012.

Produced by Suminda Thilakasena and hosted by science writer Nalaka Gunawardene, it is a half-hour show in magazine style.

Malima: Episode 2 presented by Nalaka Gunawardene from Nalaka Gunawardene on Vimeo.

This episode features:

• An interview with engineering student W Rakitha Brito who has invented several tools and robots for use in the aviation industry

• A glimpse of the ‘pehi pattalaya’, an ancient Lankan technology for extracting medicinal oil from various seeds

• Why doesn’t the woodpecker get headaches after a hard day’s work? Scientists who probed this have come up with new technology to prevent injury in accidents.

• Interview with young inventor Jayashanka Dushan, 17, a student of Bomiriya National School in Kaduwela, on his invention of simplified, low-cost and energy efficient traffic light using LEDs