Sky High Children

Ready for take off

Meghnath starts to pray to Vishnu to gain the knowledge behind his weapons Agni Astra and Narayana Astra.

After months of focused prayer, Meghnath enters Vaikunta Loka where Lord Vishnu lives and is spellbound by its beauty. Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu’s wife welcomes him and grants him a boon that gives him knowledge of Maths and Science. He then proceeds to meet Lord Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu: Welcome, Meghnath. I am glad that you were able to focus your mind enough to be able to reach Vaikunta Loka; that too at such a young age!

Meghnath: Thank you, Lord Vishnu. But am I really here or am I dreaming?

Lord Vishnu: It may seem like a dream but it is not. Your brain is like an antenna, which created an electromagnetic wave matching the frequency of Vaikunta Loka. Because of this, you were able to travel at a speed of light and reach my home, which is located in the Capricon Constellation, about 337.318502 crore kilometres from Earth.

Meghnath: Oh! According to Albert Einstein’s time dilation theory, when I travel at the speed of light, my fourth dimension — Time — is slowed down.

Lord Vishnu: That’s right, Meghnath. Your ‘Earth time’ is almost frozen. So, when you go back, you would not have lost any time. Now, tell me, what do you want from me?

Meghnath: My dad asked me to learn about the Agni astra and Narayana aAstra from you.

Lord Vishnu: Hmmm ... before you can learn the technology behind guns and missiles, you will need to learn the basics.

Meghnath: You mean “rocket technology”?

Lord Vishnu: Yes. Solid propellent rockets are like a gun’s bullets and missiles are a type of rockets whose size and applications are different.

Lord Vishnu summons Lord Agni and Lord Vaayu.

Lord Vishnu: A basic rocket requires the three of us to function: Agni (fire/ignition), Vishnu (propellant), and Vaayu (high velocity gas exit via the nozzle)

Ready for take off

Megnath: I can understand the ignition to start the fire and the fast-moving gas exit to create the push from the ground, but what is a propellent? Don’t you mean fuel?

Lord Vishnu: No. Fuel is different from a propellent. Fuel needs oxygen to burn. But when you mix oxygen with fuel, it becomes a propellent.

Meghnath: I don’t understand…

Lord Vishnu: Remember the candle experiment? When you cover the candle with a glass, the flame dies. Why does that happen?

Meghnath: Because the flame requires oxygen. And once it is covered, there is no way for new oxygen to enter to keep the flame burning.

Lord Vishnu: Exactly! Without oxygen, we cannot ignite or burn the fuel. Now tell me, at what height can a rocket fly?

Meghnath: Up to several hundred kilometres above the ground.

Lord Vishnu: That’s right. But is it possible to find abundant oxygen above the Stratosphere or the Ozone Layer?

Meghnath: No...Oh! So, to enable the rockets to continue to burn the fuel beyond these layers, they need mixed oxygen!

Lord Vishnu: Correct. When both the oxidiser and fuel are in solid state, we call it a solid propellent. When both are in liquid state, we call it liquid propellent. But when the fuel is solid and the oxygen is liquid, we call it a hybrid propellent. For Agni astra, we usually use solid propellants. For Narayana astra, we use both solid and liquid propellent.

Meghnath: Who is the first person who came up with this technology on Earth?

Lord Vishnu: In Kaliyuga, King Tipu Sultan built the modern version of Narayana astra, the technology of which then travelled all over the world. Kings in today’s era — Satya Yuga — time travelled to the future to learn it.

Meghnath: Then why is no one sharing this technology?

Lord Vishnu: That is because I felt it would be too dangerous if the technology was in everyone’s hands. So, I started to restrict the knowledge transfer and share it only with those who deserve it and will use it for a specific purpose.

Meghnath (surprised): So I have a purpose?!

Lord Vishnu: Yes, but I cannot reveal the future to you. Let’s get back to our topic.

Meghnath (disappointed): Okay...

Lord Vishnu: The Agni astra uses a mini version of the missile. It can incinerate a single enemy at a time. Narayana astra is the bigger version, which can incinerate a whole army and needs launchers.

Just then, Goddess Mahalakshmi hands over a glass of water to Meghnath. After he drinks it, he realises that she has “fed” him the details about the technology.

Meghnath: Thank you.

Lord Vishnu: Meghanth, you have learnt all that you wanted to. Now, you can go back to Earth. Start praying to Lord Brahma.

Meghanth vanishes from Vaikunda. Lord Vishnu smiles at Goddess Mahalakshmi.

Lord Vishnu: It is ironic that I have taught Meghnath the secret to a weapon that he is going to use against me in the future...

Meghnath wakes up and runs to his father’s workshop, where he starts building a toy rocket.

The author 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.


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 9:04:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/ready-for-take-off/article35141359.ece

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