Iss vimaan mein sabhi suvidhayein uplabdh hai

Unlike some religions, where development is seemingly concentrated only amongst Hindu males, science generally caters to a larger group of people, like the Avengers. Also, unlike certain other religions, where complex debates about tolerance and humanity are being resolved through peaceful means like stone pelting and questioning women why do they exist, science has actually strived hard to make the world a better place by coming up with, what some call as the greatest invention since wheel, The selfie stick.

Yet, what I like most about science is that it is constantly evolving with time while religion seems like a medicine well past its expiry date which should not be consumed. Scientists regularly come up with innovations that make me drown in a puddle of goose pimples while religious people are still worried about sentiments being hurt because someone ate chicken on a Thursday. In my opinion, the last good thing in religion that brought peace to people was when Shiva invented the chillum.

The reason for my rant here about science and religion is because of a latest scientific invention, a solar-powered plane called Solar Impulse-2, that has awesomeness written all over it.  This new baby seems straight out of the pages of the classic Sci-Fi books like 2001: A Space Odyssey or The New Testament. The plane is currently circumnavigating the world, a 20,000 miles and a 5-month long journey, and runs basically on the same fuel source that powers Aamir Khan’s ears in PK.

Solar_Impulse_2_Air_832212a

For those of you who lack conscience and do not understand the enormity of this invention, please read along.

The planning for this project started 12 years ago, after a guy, who is also a co-pilot of the Solar Impulse-2, took a round-the-world balloon flight. This is weird because for me round trip across the world is taking a Virar local till Churchgate and back. Also, back then, solar power was used most productively by small kids with a magnifying glass to set his dog’s tail on fire. In all honesty though, such grand plans make me uncomfortable because like most people, I plan for more regular things learning how to drive and updating my Facebook status every hour with feeling Meh. Infact, I remember in one of my job interviews the HR Manager asking me, “Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?” to which I replied,  “Having enough money to buy and keep you as my slave for the rest of your life. Also, I see myself growing in my career by moving from 1 RK to 1 BHK in Mumbai.” And yes, I got the job.

Back to the Solar Impulse-2. So, once this guy and his team conceptualized the design, they started searching for the material to build the body of the aircraft, as it needs to be the right mix of being light yet sturdy. They finally zeroed down on carbon fiber and honeycomb sandwich, a highly robust material which said to contain the dead skin cells of Sharad Pawar.

They then figured out that existing technology at the time would only allow them to build a solar planes that would fly distances between Andheri and Santacruz. So, they gradually started working on newer technologies, bit-by-bit, one step at a time, and finally constructed the plane in its present form. The plane now has a wingspan of a full-size jumbo jet aka Kim Kardashian’s butt, yet weighs only a little more than Mukeshbhai. It has 17,000 solar cells on its body. These cells power up a battery that can sustain a 5-day long continuous flight, without taking a break for refueling.

The next challenge was to train the pilots to endure the long haul flights, which is continuously flying for five days with an average of 4 hours of sleep per day. Sleep is a misnomer here as they are only allowed power naps of 20 minutes each. After this, the pilot is expected to have the working efficiency equivalent of a German football team. For this, they underwent specialized yoga sessions and techniques in self-hypnosis from the world famous yoga master HD Deve Gowda, who has mastered his art by regularly falling asleep in Parliament, only to wake up and sign a bill to gift Gurgaon to Robert Vadra.

Barring the sleep, the conditions in the cockpit are not so favorable either.  It is a single-seater, is as big as Silvasa, not pressurized like the regular ones and has extreme temperature variations. To add to that, the pilot’s seat doubles up as a toilet and triples up as a sleeping bed or as it is called in Dharavi, home.

Solar-Plane2

Now after 12 years, they have finally built the plane, with help from sponsors and design manuals of Hawaizaada. It is currently touring the world, having started its journey from Abu Dhabi, and also had two stops in India. The first was in Ahmedabad, where as soon as the flight landed, everyone gathered around it and applauded and then did garba as Pankhida o Pankhida played in background. The second stop was in Varanasi, where they mistook it for Pushpak Vimaan. It will also be flying through China, US, Europe and back to Abu Dhabi or as Haryanavis call it, The Roadies Journey. 

Now, if you sit and think about the whole thing for long enough, you might appreciate the momentous effort undertaken in the whole project. You might also experience unexpected surge of happiness, because if this mission succeed,  ‘we’ will take a giant leap in solar-powered technology. I will use ‘we’ because as a member of the engineering community, this plane is like a wet-dream for every engineering graduate who would love to work on a project like this, once they are done with their regular office work like fixing light bulbs or writing a shitty novels. 

Well, i hope now that this journey gets completed so that we can move on to better, newer inventions, like solar-powered cars or solar-enabled NaMo bhakts. 

Wait, What? 

Did you say they already exist? The latter as well? And they are coming to get me because I made a Modi joke…. <Knock at the door>. Before I answer that call or perhaps wait for them to block me on facebook, I would like to take a moment here and wonder what new invention religion may come up with? How about some exotic joints, rolled on the thighs of Shiva.

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