Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Third Wave

Jamshedpur, India | 1997 AD 
A six year old kid entered a nearby toy store. In his hand was a bundle of 10 Rupee notes smeared in muddy red. He used to save his pocket money every month. Today was his birthday, that one special day of the year when he could break his piggy bank.
He was very excited. Finally, he could get the toy horse he was waiting to play with. He carried it with a smile on his little face. Firmly held, close to his chest.

Little did he know there was another six year old that used to play with a similar horse more than three centuries ago.

Dartmouth, England | 1670 AD
Thomas was playing with his wooden horse. It was time for lunch. His mother handed him a loaf of bread and some Quark (a type of fresh cheese), to be delivered to his father who was an iron smith. This six year old lad started trodding and reached his father's workshop.
"Daddy !"
"My boy!"
The little chap hugged his father.
His dad started tearing the loaf, dipping it in quark and feeding himself, while he was looking at the tools scattered in the workshop.
"Son, one day you'll be the best ironmonger of England."

Three decades later, this young Thomas Newcomen invented the first practical device to harness the power of steam to produce mechanical work. It was his steam engine which inspired James Watt and eventually  triggered the First Industrial Revolution.

Vellore, India | 2004 AD
He was sitting beside the hospital bed. It was one of the best hospitals in the country.
The six year old chap was now thirteen. His sister was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, a condition which leads to rare brain cancer in children. The doctor said that only one out of twenty of the patients of that disease survived for more than ten years. He wished her to be that lucky one while she was smiling back at him holding her favourite doll.
Suddenly, it slipped from her hands and broke. He quickly picked up the dismantled pieces.
She told him with tears in her eyes, "Bhaiyah, Jodh do."
That night he went back and fixed it.
The next day, he woke up and got ready holding her toy in his hands.
His parents informed him that she had passed away last night.
He was devastated.

Little did he know, another thirteen year old had lost his loved one less than one and a half century ago.

Greenfield Township, USA | 1878 AD
Young Henry was devasted after his mother died two years back.
He was 15 when he dismantled and reassembled the timepieces of friends and neighbors dozens of times, gaining the reputation of a watch repairman.
But his father wanted him to take over the family farm.
He told his father ,"I never have any particular love for the farm—it was the mother on the farm I loved."

His father did not know that one day his son will play a major role in the Second Industrial Revolution. Three decades later, Henry Ford mastered the moving assembly line and ushered in the age of mass production.

Now the Third Wave was underway and little did Thomas and Henry know.

Kanpur, India | 2011 AD
He was sitting in his tiny hostel room in IIT kanpur, staring at his laptop screen. His site had got around 20000 hits this week. It was a social networking site he created a month back which had taken the world with a storm. Nope it had nothing to do with friend requests, likes and chat messages. He named it Social Open Design Network.
Young engineers and veterans from all around the world poured in their ideas, designs and started various collaborative projects.
One such project was the RepRap project. It was an initiative to develop a 3D printer that could print itself. Due to the self-replicating ability of the machine, the possibility to cheaply distribute RepRap units to people and communities was envisioned, enabling them to create (or download from the internet) complex products without the need for expensive industrial infrastructure. The first printer was named Darwin. The world soon noticed the potential of such a platform. It was a nonetheless a social digital industrial revolution.
But more than that it was just the beginning.

Massachusetts, United States | 2019 AD
He was busy running simulations on the latest fabric he developed in the nanoscience and nanotechnology laboratory of MIT. It wasn't just an ordinary fabric.
Few weeks later a patent was filed under the name of Nano Vent Skin (NVS).
Using nano-manufacturing with bioengineered organisms as a production method, NVS merged different kinds of micro organisms that worked together to absorb and transform natural energy from the environment. What came out of this merging of living organisms was a skin that transformed two of the most abundant sources of green energy on earth: Sunlight and Wind.

Imagine entire building powered by this technology.
Cars covered with NVS, running on pure renewable energy.
Imagine a world of future where mankind was able to harness renewable energy ample for all its needs.

Little did he know that this patent would lead to a power-shift away from fossil fuels one day.

Longyearbyen, Norway | 2027 AD
He reached the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
After showing the ownership papers he was given access to a black box. The contents of this box were passed down from generations. Finally it had ended up in this vault.
It took him three years to track down its real owners and convince them to have faith in him.
The origin of these seeds traced back to an Indian ashram 3500 years ago.

  Prayag (Allahabad), India | 1503 BC
Guru Bharadwaja was imparting the knowledge of Ayurveda to his brilliant student Agnivesha.
He was listening to his guru with utmost devotion.
After a few years he wrote Agnivesh tantra, the first Ayurvedic text.
Ayurveda operated on the precept that various materials of vegetable, animal, and mineral origin have some medicinal value. The medicinal properties of these materials were documented by  Charaka, Sushruta, Vagabhatta, Bhav Mishra, Shaligram and others in the coming centuries curing illness and helping maintain good health.
Very few know that Guru Bhardwaja had another young disciple named  Angiraso, to whom he passed his knowledge of Loh-sasya-karma-shastra (लोहसस्यकर्मशास्त्र).
It was the science of obtaining metal like matter from plants. This oral knowledge was never documented, only passed down the generations who refined it more and more.
Only one person came close to such possibility in real life - Henry Ford.

 Michigan, USA | 1941 AD
Ford was looking to integrate industry with agriculture. He wished to make his new material a replacement for the metals used in normal cars. He invested millions of dollars into research to develop the plastic car to no avail.
He proclaimed he would "grow automobiles from the soil" - however it never happened, even though he had over 12,000 acres of soybeans to experiment with.
"Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?" - Envisioned Henry Ford.
A century later his vision was about to come true.

Beijing, China | 2034 AD
After procuring the seeds from the black box, he came to the National Center for Plant Gene Research six years back.
His research was now near completion.
That night, he boarded Air China 947 which landed in New Delhi after a few hours.

Chakadharpur, India | 2050 AD
He was the chief guest of the 57th Indian Institute of Technology. These IITs have now evolved into specialized research and technology hubs. Each IIT dedicated to a particular field. People from all around the globe came to India for high end research.
Why was he chosen as the chief guest ?
Well,  in the past 10 years he had inaugrated more than 30 other IITs scattered around India. After all now he is a national hero.
His breakthrough was the discovery of a material called Mirel that actually grew inside the leaves and stems of a switch-grass crop. It was a lighter, stronger substitute for steel. What Ford envisioned once, he had made it come true. He handed his research to the Indian Government. It lead to a sudden boom in industry and infrastucture of India. From defence to medicine this material was used everywhere. He urged the government to change the education system and invest in it. He knew it very well that education was the key to this revolution.
India was now not just a superpower, but also it became a great learning center as it was a millennium ago. 

 Nalanda, India | 1193 AD
Established in 5th century AD Nalanda University was the first great university ever recorded in history. It attracted scholars and students from all around the world.
Rahula was in his study room when the fated-news reached.
The Muslim hordes led by Bakhtiyar Khilji were in sight. Countless scholars and teachers were dead. The few scholars who had held on, had fled and deserted the premises, except the old Rahula and his student Dharmasvami. Rahula urged the student to fly to safety; he himself was too old to run away and did not in fact care about what happened to him. But the youth refused to leave the teacher alone, and stayed on with him.
Soon, however, when the Muslim army arrived on the scene, the scholar carried his old teacher on his back along with a supply of rice, sugar and a book, and walked into hiding in a ruined temple not far from Nalanda. The invaders ransacked the university, burned all the books and left. Rahula and Dharmasvami returned to Nalanda to continue their study.
They had the only manuscript which survived this fateful day.
That engraved bark-cover of that manuscript read -  लोहसस्यकर्मशास्त्रम्

Jamshedpur, India | 2065 AD
He turned 74 few months back. Nowadays, he seems surlier than usual, and a little forgetful. It turns out, he has Alzheimer's disease - he might have had it for months or even years. But he lived alone, with no family or close friends around to notice his memory loss or personality changes. He feels shallow as he is unaware of what he achieved in his entire life.
He is struggling to leave this world for quite some time, but a string is holding him back on Earth.
Today he had woken up with a jolt. He tried hard to recollect the reminiscence of the dream he just had. All he could remember ..  Horse .. RepRap .. NVS ... Mirel .. a trunk .. attic.
He walked upstairs.
Pulled down the attic stairs.
He saw a small trunk lying in the corner. He opened it.
As he rummaged through the contents of the trunk, his entire life flashed before his eyes.
He picked up the peepal leaf. Inscribed on it was an image of the Sun along with the words "Bharat Ratna".

A dusty sheet of paper laid covered with seeds.
He picked it up and read the title - "Patent No. : 63,791 C2 Nano Vent Skin".
"How could I have forgotten all this," he thought.
But still he felt something was missing.
Then in the spark of a moment he noticed a doll out of the corner of his eyes.
As he picked it up he felt as if he was floating, liberated of all worries.
And he realized,"My sister is still waiting for this."
He took the doll with him and with a smile on his face he lay down on his bed.
It was a smile of completion.
He closed his eyes.

Little did this man behind the Third Wave know, this was his last smile.

Read Also : Printing the Third Dimension

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sometimes you are simply too late ...

It was a cold night. 
I was sitting in a waiting room. 
My train was 3 hours late.

Time and again I was opening my backpack, taking out something, holding it for a few minutes and then putting it back inside.
"Hi, aap kahan ja rahe ho ?"
Suddenly I turned right and saw a girl sitting beside me. She looked familiar.
"I'm Ritika. I attended your lecture a few months back."
"Yah I remember. That was what I was wondering. I saw you there." [I lied with a broad smile] 
"If you don't mind, can I borrow that book?"
That thing was still in my hand.
"Yah sure."
"How's the book? Have you read it?" - she asked.
"I don't know. I haven't read it." - I sighed.
I shrugged my shoulders.

The book was intact. I had not even turned a single page.
There was something scribbled inside the cover page. She looked at it.

Thankx for making the lib software buddy !!!
from Subhojit
Secy, Hall 5 RR
There was a seal below this text which read Hall 5 Reading Room. 

She was puzzled trying to figure out the crypt.
"Well, its a gift for a dear friend of mine. She once told me that she wanted to read this book. I promised her that I'll get it for her. I couldn't get it online and even searched the entire city but couldn't get a copy back then."
"Oh.." she continued, "Wow, she'll be so happy when you will gift it to her."
"Yup. The day I got it, I asked her if she still wants to read this book. Hoping to give her a surprise."
"And what was her reply.. bataiye toh ?" - I could see the excitement in her eyes.
"Someone already gifted her a copy."
"I was simply too late ... "

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Today, he is a God. 4000 years ago, he was just a man.

Previously : A man whom legend turned into a God !

Well Bose and I couldn't resist getting the sequel to The Immortals of Meluha. The first book ended abruptly in midst of a battle which was a clever strategy deployed by the author. But this sequel was worth a shot.
The  Shiva Trilogy 2: The Secret of The Nagas came with a expanded map of India showing us the territory of the "evil" Nagas.

Rarely one comes across a sequel better than its predecessor. And this book can be surely counted as one of them. Every line of the book catapaults into opening a new secret.
Generally a book opens up with the author thanking his family and friends. This one opened up in a similar manner The lines were so few, but they sunk deep inside my heart ..

Unlucky are those who search the seven
seas for paradise
Fortunate are those who experience the only heaven
that truly exists, the heaven that lives in the company
of our loved ones
I am truly fortunate

Apart from the main story-line of Shiva finding and destroying the Nagas. This book also had some small parallel stories which were equally interesting. Notable one was that of Princess Anandmayi trying hard to win over General Parvateshwar who had taken a vow of brahmacharya , an open-ended word of honour that can never be broken.
The description of the gates of kingdom Branga [conjugate of Brahmaputra and Ganga] was nothing less than a fine example of an engineering marvel.
The arrival of Ganesh and Kali left me speechless.
Their character portrayal was simply way ahead for an Indian author.
But what moved me the most was the very small story in 'The Curse of Honour'. The story was that of Parshuram which definitely reminded me of the honour killings rooted in our society.
Hats off to Amish for this one !

Some of the awesome lines in this book were ..
"I know this is not entirely right. But sometimes, the only way to prevent a grave wrong is to commit a small wrong." - Parvateshwar [A Small Wrong?]
"It's true that Gods don't give all abilities to one person. You truly are your own worst enemy." - Naga Queen [What is Your Karma]
"Gold means nothing. We have tonnes of it back home. It still cannot buy us out of our suffering. Nothing is more important than life. Nothing. You realise the simplicity of that point only when you confront death everyday." - Divodas [Even a mountain can fall]
"Lord Rudra said judge a person by his karma, not his appearance." - Athithigva [The Mystery of the Eastern Palaces]

Few excerpts from the book are ...
"How does it work? How is it that I can hear your thoughts?"
"Its a simple science really. The science of radio waves. Just like light, which helps you to see, there are radio waves to help you hear. While all humans can easily use the properties of light to see, most don't know how to use radio waves to hear. We are dependent on sound waves to hear. Sound waves travel much slower through air and for much shorter distances. Radio waves travel far and fast, just like light"
- Birth Pangs [Pg110]

Truth doesn't ask for belief. It just exists. Let me hear what you think. There is god in every single one of us. What is the obvious corollary?
There is evil in every single one of us.
Exactly, there is god in every single one of us. And there is evil in every single one of us. The true battle between good and evil is fought within.
Birth Pangs [Pg112]

The hump caused by the injury restricted Uttanka's right arm's movements.
"You will not be able to battle a taller man."
"I will die before retreating, My Lord," said Uttanka.
"I have no use for soldiers who die. I need soldiers who will kill and live."
- The Mating Dance [Pg127]

You were my world, my God, my creator,
And yet, you abandoned me.
I didn't seek you, you called me,
And yet, you abandoned me.
I honoured you, lived by your rules, coloured myself in your colours,
And yet, you abandoned me.
You hurt me, you deserted me, you failed in your duties,
And yet, I am the monster.
- What is Your Karma [Pg146]

And my favourite line is...
“The opposite of love is not hate, its apathy, when u simply don't bother about that person!”

The next book in the series is expected to release this December.
Hoping for an epic ending !