K.M. Arumugam loves the stars and planets so much that he plans to set up a planetarium in the city
“I love Science” states K.M. Arumugam. Standing under the concave roof of a planetarium set up at the ongoing exhibition at VOC Park Grounds, the 41-year-old points to a projector placed in the middle of the room. “This is a DLP projector that I designed to teach people about the Solar System,” he says.
Arumugam has put together a seven-minute documentary in Tamil about the birth of the universe and the planets in the Solar System. “I wrote to NASA for the content,” he says. As the projector hums to life, stars fill the room. The idea is to give the viewers, who watch the show from a reclining position, the effect of floating with the stars. Arumugam has travelled with the projector to places such as Madurai and Trichy, teaching people about the universe.
It all started with his visit to the Birla Planetarium, Chennai. “The show was brilliant. They used a cutting-edge projector for the purpose. But not everyone can afford a ticket there,” he says. Back home in Pudukkottai, he decided to devise an alternative — a cheaper projector that can give viewers the same experience, but at a nominal price. He worked on it for nine years, with the help of friends who sent bulbs and mother-boards from Singapore. After unsuccessful attempts and a lot of money down the drain, Arumugam finally had a projector. He has even applied for a patent for the projector.
Having spent 14 years as a Science teacher in Trichy and Srirangam, Arumugam enjoys teaching. It's his love for teaching and Science that has resulted in the formation of ‘Arwin Science Centre' in Pudukkottai. He regularly writes to NASA that provides him with the content for his documentaries. “I have original footage of man's first visit to outer space in 1961 to those of space programmes till 2005,” he says.
Arumugam organises screenings for schools and colleges for a nominal amount. But his dream, he says, is to establish his own planetarium in Coimbatore. “There are only two planetariums in the state — one each in Chennai and Trichy,” he says. But if there were more, wouldn't it help educate students better, he asks.
“I have all the plans and equipment ready. I've also written to the district Collector for his permission,” he says. If things turn out well, Coimbatore could have its very own planetarium in six months. Of course, entry tickets would be priced at a bare minimum. Arumugam whisks out a file with plans and sketches of his planetarium. He has even decided on a name – Asteroid.