Question 1: Why does Indrani Debi dislike Duttada's "hobnobbing" with Dibya?
Answer: Since the time Duttada acquired his Dibya he was always engrossed in it. It was a telescope which Duttada cherished to have throughout his life. He was addicted of looking at stars for hours. It certainly reduced his attention on other aspects of his life and more so, on his wife Indrani Debi. That is why Indrani Debi disliked his continuous engagement with Dibya.
Question 2: She is complaining and smiling. Why is she smiling?
Answer: Indrani Debi knew that her husband never gave a damn care to household issues. But on that night he did not forget to shut the door before leaving for star-gazing. She was smiling for his rare carefulness.
Question 3: What was Duttada's secret ambition? What did he do to achieve it?
Answer: Like every amateur astronomer, Duttada wanted to discover some new comet. He would keep on making complex observations and recording them.
Question 4: What is the difference between a planet and a comet, as given in the story?
Answer: Planets encircle the sun on circular paths hence are visible throughout the year. On the other hand, comets move on an eccentric path hence are visible once in several years and even once in a century.
Question 5: Why was Duttada hopeful that he would discover a new comet soon?
Answer: Duttada knew that professional astronomers have to follow their organization's guidelines to look for faint stars and nebulae. They don't pay attention to insignificant things like comet. All the comets had been discovered by amateur astronomers till date. So Duttada was hopeful of discovering a new comet.
Question 6: Why does Duttada say — "I almost wish I had not discovered this comet."?
Answer: Duttada was an introvert person. He was disturbed by all the attention he started to get after his discovery. That is why he was ruing the fact that he discovered the new comet.
Question 7: Why is his wife unhappy about the discovery?
Answer: The wife was having faith on the belief that comets bring bad luck with them. She did not like her husband's name associated with a comet.
Question 8: How did Sir John get hold of James' original manuscript?
Answer: The editor of the magazine "Nature" was Sir John's friend. Utilizing his relation with the editor he got hold of James' original script.
Question 9: What is the important point the paper makes?
Answer: The paper made a prediction that Dutta's Comet would collide with the earth in 10 months time leading to the end of all living things on the earth.
Question 10: Why does Sir John say that James' paper should not be published?
Answer: Sir John wanted no panic to be created among people. He was confident of finding a solution to this problem with help of the world's scientists.
Question 11: What do the two men finally decide to do?
Answer: They decided to call a secret meeting of experts within a week's time to think over and find the solution to the imminent problem.
Question 12: "For a moment James wondered if he had done his sums right." Why was James doubtful about his sums and calculations?
Answer: James was not doubtful about his calculations. He wished to find some wrong calculations so that he could heave a sigh of relief that the world would not end. Deep in his mind he, like all others did not want the life on the earth to end.
Question 13: What did the scientists at the conference say about James' "sums"?
Answer: After rechecking James' sum for the umpteenth time the scientist arrived at the horrifying conclusion that James was right. There was just a feeble chance of the comet scraping through the earth's atmosphere. Even then also it would have caused great damage.
Question 14: Immediate action was needed, the scientists decided. Give one example each of "defensive" and "offensive" action mentioned in the text.
Answer: The Defensive Option: It was planned to prepare underground bunkers to hide everybody for safety.
The Offensive Option: To deflect the path of the comet by using nuclear explosion. This was preferred as nobody was sure about the size of the comet.
Question 15: "I am not buying any Christmas presents till December 15." What did Sir John mean by that?
Answer: There is a saying that the Earth is like a small speck of dust in this universe and we are a minute part of that small speck. Against the powers of the universe human beings are simply powerless. Sir John was aware of this fact and, like everybody else, was not hundred percent sure of the success of the offensive measure planned in the meeting. So he was postponing all celebrations till the D-day.
Question 16: What is Duttada expected to do on his return from London?
Answer: After his return from London he discovered that Indrani Debi had arranged for a yajna to be performed. She, along with other family members, planned it to ward off the evils of the comet's visit.
Question 17: What is his reaction to the proposal?
Answer: Duttada did not believe in such superstitions. So he refused to participate in the yajna.
Question 18: What does "Project Light Brigade" refer to? What does Sir John say about the Project in his letter to Duttada in October?
Answer: "Project Light Brigade" referred to the plans to deflect the comet's path by nuclear explosion. In October Sir John wrote about the timely launch of the spaceship which was carrying nuclear materials for explosion near the comet.
Question 19: Did Sir John buy Christmas presents on December 15? How did Duttada get to know about it?
Answer: When the scientific community observed that the comet started going away from the earth they were relieved that it did not do any harm. So Sir John decided to buy Christmas present on 15th December. He sent an urgent message in this regard to Duttada through the British High Commission in India.
Question 20: Why, according to Indrani Debi, had the comet not been disastrous? Do you agree with her?
Answer: According to Indrani Debi it was the effect of the yajna which did not allow the comet to create disaster on the earth. For somebody who is as rational as Duttada this is impossible to believe. I belong to that category. For those who believe in comets bringing bad luck this is believable.