Cyril Shroff on the Mumbai Attacks

Question: How did the Mumbai attacks change India’s attitude toward terrorism?

Cyril Shroff: It’s a landmark event in our psyche.  We were always worried about terrorism which was mainly cross-border. In the initial years we thought of it essentially as a problem that was effectively centered around Kashmir and there were sporadic incidence across the country.

But I think 26/11 changed a lot of that because it made us all realize how vulnerable we are and how soft the target we are. Mumbai which is such a prominent commercial city and how easy it was for a bunch of 10 to 15 young boys effectively to come and hold a city to ransom for nearly four days and occupy the attention of the whole world just showed how weak we are. And I’m sure Mumbai is not the only city which can if they decided to do it, in any other European city as well, I’m sure they will find a way because they are determined and have belief that really have nothing to loose. 

How do I view the security situation? I say with a lot of trepidation because everyday we open the newspapers and we see the situation on our western border deteriorating and our heart sink lower and lower everyday. We don’t know where that is going to end but we are really relying upon Washington to help us resolve this.

Look at the way India reacted. Did it post-26/11 take a bunch of fighter aircraft and bombed these camps out of existence. They could have done that I’m sure but I think the outcome of that would have been far worse. This is probably what those behind the attacks were looking for, and I’m glad that our government was mature enough not to fall into that trap. 

Question: What action are you taking to reform security?

Cyril Shroff: So a bunch of like-minded citizens like myself be filed a public interest litigation in our high court in Mumbai seeking mandatory judicial reliefs for police reform, because we thought one of the factors that would be essential for preventing in recurrence of this in the future would be a stronger security set up, a more empowered police and this case is pending in our high court. Our judiciary has got quite interested. 

The reason why I did this was that India and particularly people in urban cities have over a period of time have got anesthetizes to some of these incidents that were happening everyday. 26/11 of course was different but it was perhaps too careless to assume that the Mumbai spirit of tolerance will take us through even such incidents and we had to do something about it. So we wanted to have a positive action in a more civilized way which was not backward-looking but was meant towards finding a solution and this initiative that was taken by me and a few others received a lot of support and I do hope that this case goes through and eventually something comes out of it. But people are at the superficial level, they’re back to business as usual but 26/11 I think has left a deep scar on people’s minds.

Question: How have the attacks affected business in India?

Cyril Shroff: One thing it certainly has done is I think every businessman in India or somebody doing business with India recognizing terrorist risk as now an important business consideration. I think the cost of business, doing business in India has gone up. It fundamentally hasn’t affected people’s views on India as yet because people believe that this is something which is a global phenomenon. Terrorism is not confined in it’s, in its damaging impact only doing the defects on number of other countries as well. 

So while at one level has been taken in stride it has increased a cost of doing business. No one in the world is saying, we’re not going to do business in India, because it is a high risk target. On the contrary. In fact the West went out of its way to demonstrate solidarity with us. As lawyers there was an important delegation of the American Bar Association which we hosted in on the Mumbai leg they came to India in early January. Post 26/11 have given them the option to cancel the trip and said, we’re not going to do that. We are going to be in Mumbai because this is exactly what the terrorist wants us to do and we’re not going to do that. So the West has shown extraordinary support. 

Recorded on: April 29, 2009

The lawyer considers terrorism’s impact on Indian society, business and police powers.

China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

The science of sex, love, attraction, and obsession

The symbol for love is the heart, but the brain may be more accurate.

  • How love makes us feel can only be defined on an individual basis, but what it does to the body, specifically the brain, is now less abstract thanks to science.
  • One of the problems with early-stage attraction, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, is that it activates parts of the brain that are linked to drive, craving, obsession, and motivation, while other regions that deal with decision-making shut down.
  • Dr. Fisher, professor Ted Fischer, and psychiatrist Gail Saltz explain the different types of love, explore the neuroscience of love and attraction, and share tips for sustaining relationships that are healthy and mutually beneficial.

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
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There never was a male fertility crisis

A new study suggests that reports of the impending infertility of the human male are greatly exaggerated.

Sex & Relationships
  • A new review of a famous study on declining sperm counts finds several flaws.
  • The old report makes unfounded assumptions, has faulty data, and tends toward panic.
  • The new report does not rule out that sperm counts are going down, only that this could be quite normal.
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