While debates rage about traffic on Delhi’s bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor, cities around the world are racking their brains for future modes of public transport which would save on roadspace, energy and cost. Take, for instance, the two-story Straddling Bus, presented at the 13th Beijing High-Tech Expo in 2010, whose lower deck functions as a tunnel for cars to pass underneath! Topping our wishlist are buses which would run on solar-powered electricity whilst carrying hundreds (or more) at a time. Because both traffic jams and pollution are at odds with the functioning of cities, and decidedly undesirable.
Ousting hunger: Lock, stock and barrel
Did you know that India has only four silos – in Calcutta, Chennai, Mumbai and Ghaziabad? And that we risk losing millions of tonnes (six million metric tonnes to be precise) of wheat grains to rain and pests for the lack of warehouses? The current, official method of Cover and Plinth storage has proven neither safe nor scientific. We feel that could change if silos were equipped with monitoring software that would issue a warning when the threshold capacity for storage or ideal temperature is exceeded.
Mechanical indicators could also enable distribution of the stock before spoilage and save precious food for a country where more than 75 per cent population lives on Rs 50 a day.
Water for everyone
In India, 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die every year, of water-borne illnesses. Why can we not have a clean water outlet in every neighbourhood? When even in remote corners of the country there is an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) every few kilometres. Rural women often have to travel over 10 kms a day for a single pot of drinking water. On our wishlist for India are cost-effective devices that turn sewage and industrial waste-ridden water into clean, drinkable water and… wait! It has already been designed. A device called the Life Straw, uses textile pre-filters to do just that, at 50 paise a day, without using electricity! But it stands on our wishlist, as India has yet to seize the day and implement such technology.
Beam me up!
Ah, what if all you had to do to travel from Mumbai to New York was to flick on a switch and poof? Sci-fi movies like Star Trek have long fuelled this dream and even motivated smart individuals to come up with small- scale prototypes. This year, a group of Chinese scientists were able to teleport a photon (one of the smallest parts of an atom) over 97 kilometres! The photon vanished at one end and a duplicate was engineered at he other end. Could we see humans doing the same in the years to come? Yes, duplicating the complexity of the human body would be no child’s play but the flying photon makes us ponder.