Children

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


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

Printable version | Jul 27, 2022 4:31:38 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/children/can-stones-float/article65660738.ece