Can stones float?

Nala and Hanuman are on their way to meet Nala’s brother, Nila. Nala shares stories from their childhood.

Hanuman: Nila sounds extremely skilled.

Nala: This is nothing! Do you want to see something even more amazing?

Hanuman: Of course!

Nala takes a stone and throws it into the water. Hanuman’s eyes widen in surprise, as the stone floats in the water instead of sinking!

Hanuman: How did you do that?

Nala: When my brother and I were toddlers, we lived close to the hermitage of sage Sutikshna who worshipped God in the form of a stone called “shaligram” (a special type of black stone collected from the riverbed of the river Gandaki in Nepal).

Nala draws the stone, which looks like a spiral. Technically, the stones are fossils of ammonite shells of cephalopods that existed about 66 million years ago.

Nala: To us, the stone looked like a toy. So we picked it up and threw it in the water. The sage got angry and cursed us that any solid object we throw into the water will never sink.

Hanuman: That sounds more like a superpower than a curse.

They laugh.

Nala: Nila and I used to wonder if there was a scientific explanation behind the stone floating. So we experimented with various models.

Hanuman: That is not at all surprising, considering that you are the sons of Vishwakarma, the great architect. So did you manage to figure it out?

Nala: Yes. We managed to build a model that could float. It’s called a Hovercraft.

Hanuman: Can you show me how to build one too?

Nala: Sure! (Scroll down for instructions to build the hovercraft model.)

While Nala talks about his “curse”, Hanuman does not realise that it will play an important role in the future: in the building of the floating bridge that will lead Rama and his army to Lanka to defeat Ravana.

The writer is the founder and CEO of Vaayusastra Aerospace, an IIT-Madras incubated ed-tech startup that offers Air Science workshops for children between five and 14 years.

How to build a hovercraft

How to build a hovercraft | Photo Credit: Satheesh Vellinezhi

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2022 4:31:38 pm |