Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, May 24, 2012

Story: Numaya Shahriar
Toons: E R Ronny

“All it takes to fly is to hurl yourself
at the ground..........and miss.”
¯ Douglas Adams

Human beings are naturally adventurous creatures. What we don't have, we'll always want and work till we get it. Such as flight. Many people jumped from high places for decades, adorned with wings and balloons, and they all hit the ground. But that didn't stop people except for those that hit the ground trying. No, people pursued the promise of flight till someone realised that human beings aren't designed to fly. So they tried to make other things fly, like a big hollow tube filled with seats and movie screens. What's next in the list of things that could fly?

Cars. It is generally assumed that it will make life easier. People could fly from one place to another. They could travel great distances, avoid serpentine traffic jams and see what the birds see which incidentally is an image of very tiny people. With that in mind, flying cars - the latest iteration named PAL-V - have just been introduced into the market by a group of MIT engineers, after empty promises by other companies over the last few decades. Of course it costs a fortune, but being able to drive a car in the sky is worth the million dollars.

But imagine the horror of flying cars in our country. People crash regularly with their wheels planted firmly on the ground. Aerial accidents would be double the usual casualty. Some may ask the question, 'what you can possibly hit up in the sky?' There are no trees. But everyone would be flying a car. Not only would people be running down innocent birds, but once they hit each other, they stop and submit to gravity. Gravity is a killer. What if one ran out of gas? You can't just stop at the nearest cloud to refuel. Will border security forces have sky quarters or something? And imagine the sky races - although super-cool, most would probably crash. Because racers, specifically ones spelled with a 'z', always crash. Our sympathies go out to the people who will be walking below. Pedestrians are always the lowest form in the traffic food chain… except this time, quite literally.

Flying carpets are a little safer. Dirtier maybe, but safer. They aren't even a quarter of the mass of a car. And they could be made into smart carpets which could detect if the engine was failing and take you gliding down to the deck with no collateral damage. You can now enjoy the breeze. Forget the AC, save the environment and world's energy. It'd be like the rickshaws, only much cooler. We think scientists should get right on it. And best of all, you have something to wipe your feet on so mothers don't complain about the dirt being dragged into the house.

One thing everyone wishes could fly is food. You could just sit at your desk or ride around on your flying carpet and a sandwich would appear beside you. Of course, you would need flying plates too. And if you're having noodles: flying cutlery. If we had the power to make other's food fly to us, even better. We wouldn't have to complain about getting the worst flavoured candies or cast envious glances at people's mouth-watering dishes. Though the sword could cut both ways.

The greatest invention involving flight would be flying remotes. Long gone would be the days of getting up to retrieve the remote from the far end of the seemingly ten-mile long room. If these flying devices could be fitted with voice locaters, even better. No more lost keys or earrings or lipsticks or school books. And no more carrying heavy books and shopping bags. The generations would grow lazier and fatter, but perhaps a little less frustrated. That is until the batteries die. Flying batteries? But what powers the flying batteries? A conundrum. Difficult word? How about a flying dictionary? See how easy life would be if everything flew.

Not sure everything should though. “I think cows should fly. The rhyme about the cow jumping over the moon could come true,” says Anita, a student of class 10. Other than astronaut cows, what other benefit could these have? In a country like India where cows are sacred, flying cows would shut down air traffic completely. You can't touch them. But rest of the world, well, you'd get your milk delivered faster. But then there is the hazard of cows relieving themselves. Rain and crow-poop will be the least of people's worries.

Science is magic. It makes the impossible an expensive, energy wasting, dangerous reality. But once it is done making, things happen… eventually. It's hard to believe that computers didn't exist once and now everything has a computer in it including some fancy toilets designed by and for Japanese toilet connoisseurs. Even bad singers can become superstars because science makes them sound like gargling robots which for now is cool. But what we really need for science to do right now is make RS fly. Too many people complain that their regular old fashioned hand delivered RS gets stolen each week.



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