Physics professor challenges new and old claims of seeing Himalayan ranges from plain

Pune, June 10 (PTI) A physics professor and his 17-year-old student have challenged social media claims that Himalayan peaks were visible hundreds of kilometers away from some cities in northern India during the lockdown last year.

In March last year, economic and transport activities came to a halt after the coronavirus pandemic imposed a lockdown, and as pollution eased, social media photos were posted claiming beautiful views of the mountain ranges from the towns of the plain.

This guru-disciple pair has challenged not only these claims but also the more than two century old claims of the Asiatic Society of Bengal founder Sir William Johns of seeing such scenes.

Vijay Singh (71) and Arnav Singh (17) have stated in their report ‘On Viewing the Himalayas from the Plains’ that Sir John’s claim may be false. This report has been published in the ‘American Journal of Physics’.

Johns claimed to have seen Mount Jomolhari in the Eastern Himalayas in 1785, 366 km from Bhagalpur in Bihar. Five years later, his successor Henry Colebrook claimed to have seen the Himalayan peak from Purnia, 80 km from Bhagalpur.

According to Vijay Singh, a professor at IIT Kanpur, it is impossible to see Mount Jomolhari from Bhagalpur, which is also known as the ‘Dulhan of Kanchenjunga’.

Singh told PTI on Thursday that when there were reports of Himalayan peaks being visible from Jalandhar in Punjab and Purnia in Bihar last year, he remembered the claims of Johns and Colbrook and decided to study these claims with student Arnav. decided to.

He said, “It is a unique sight to see, but obviously some questions arise. Given the curvature of the Earth as well as the greater distance between the mountain peak and the point of view, is this view possible? If so, what is the height of the peak which can be seen from a distance?

Singh argued that given the curvature or roundness of the earth, Sir John’s claim of seeing a mountain is not possible to be true.

He said, “Suppose Bhagalpur is like a big tower or a tower like Burj Khalifa, then one can see it only from the top of Mount Jomolhari when the air is absolutely pure and clear.”

When asked what exactly Johns must have seen, he said, “It could be that Mount Kanchenjunga which is at a close distance from Mount Jomolhari and it may have been seen by Sir John because it is relatively closer to Bhagalpur.” ‘

Singh said, “From Bhagalpur you cannot see any mountain because the city is to the south on the course of the Ganges. Mountain peaks can be seen from Purnia, provided the air is very clear. It is almost impossible to see mountains from Purnia as much as the air was cleared due to the pandemic.

Asked about Jalandhar’s claim to have a glimpse of the mountain, Singh said the Dhauladhar peaks can be seen from the city of Punjab.

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