Little did I know when, a quarter of a century back, my little tyke asked me with that expectant glimmer in his eyes that I think betrayed the glee of imminent ownership of new knowledge, “How can I fly on my own?”, that I would live to see him fulfill those dreams even before his little princess could ask him the same.
It wrenched my heart to give him the rare “I don’t know dear” to his innocent tearful question of “But why can’t I fly like the birds pappa? It’s not fair.” I was shocked at his reaction, his sense of betrayal when I told him that it was not possible to fly without an aircraft of some sorts, and even then they were not within the reach of most people.
Little did I know that technology & economy would advance to such a stage at such accelerated speeds, even though I was an innovator of sorts and considered myself to be able to look into the future better than the average Joe. Maybe it was because I was able to foresee the ways advances would meld together that I could guide my son to be prepared for the convergence.
His dream had been to become an astronaut chef, and he did inherit my wife’s skills in the kitchen and complemented it with my adventurous appetite for exotic cuisine. The astronaut part kept proving a distant hope.
That was until the India based Neutrino Observatory (INO) detected the unexpected Gravitons, the hitherto theoretical sub atomic particles supposed to be the cause of gravity, against all odds and was conclusively proven that they were from the Large Hadron Collider halfway across the globe in Switzerland. Nobody could quite figure out even till date how something that only a detector the mass of Jupiter and 100% efficiency, placed in close orbit around a neutron star, could only be expected to observe one graviton every 10 years, even under the most favorable conditions, was detected by INO even though it had not yet completed the trials and was yet to be officially launched.
Though that lucky accident happened when my son was at the threshold of his teenage, by the time he graduated he was raring to miniaturise the Gravitron, the bulky device that could create a personal anti gravity field which started out as huge as a hangar and was currently the size of his hostel room.
Technically he had been working on it ever since his Physics teacher at school failed to give him a satisfactory explanation about the graviton, let alone the workings of the Gravitron. His Playstation 3 cluster, Raspberry Pis and MakerBots had all been put to good use.
His dream to make affordable personal flying gadgets, not aircraft, received shot in the arm when two crucial advances happened, one in the energy sector and the other in neural interfaces to computers at around the same time he graduated. It perhaps was inevitable that his future wife would be passionate about the later, and that is how the convergence was possible.
Interestingly, the year 2012, when my son had asked that ageless question first time ever, was the harbinger of all these advances, the beginning of the convergence. INO had just been announced, LHC had detected a new particle, the χb (3P) bottomonium state, just before the beginning of the year; Makerbot’s Replicator and Raspberry Pi were launched, and University of Tennessee had demonstrated that harnessing Nuclear Fusion for the Powergrid was possible. But nobody thought they would converge so soon. And today, merely a quarter century later, here I am with my whole family in tow, to witness the largest ever donation of Gravitrons to an entire army of children of seven.
My daughter-in-law had taken the utmost care in building the controller for the Gravitrons. The various sensors hitherto used in smartphones, the AI, the swarm logic, the bionic contact lenses were all granted by the conglomerate that started as a search engine for the internet, but the neural interfaces were her handiwork. She had found it extremely difficult to work with human adults, but had found huge success with the young ones of the Bonobos, they were all flying in no time. Maybe the desperation to try her technology on a human child had begotten my out of marriage grand daughter, but I am glad my son wed his daughter’s mother after all.
Unknown to me or my wife, our grand daughter had received her neural interface at unsurprisingly the correct developmental stage when she was dropping her toys and watched where they went. My wife had been more than happy to share her insights from her Montessori career with our daughter-in-law, she suspected nothing of the other intentions of the new mother.
Even her collaborators, her husband my son and their college buddy who worked on the wearable nano reactor had no inkling that she had been able to cajole the women in the villages she went to teach during the weekends, and that she had been installing the neural interfaces almost every weekend on one year olds for so many years.
It was not until a year ago that she disclosed it to my wife and eventually the whole family was aware of her handiwork. My son wasted no time in getting the project started to build all those Gravitrons and in less than year, here we are, under the global media glare, waiting for the children to be given their own personal Gravitrons. All these years of clandestine practice with experimental Gravitrons, first solo and gradually in very small formations, had not prepared the children to fly en mass, connected in such a huge swarm.
The world watched in awe and wonder when they all levitated a few feet above the ground and there was a collective gasp when the children zoomed in the blink of an eye to hover again at around a hundred feet above the ground. But there was no sound, collective or individual, when the world witnessed the first murmuration of human starlings.
Copyright of this post is with me, Prem Kumar Aparanji. I provide it under the Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA.