"There is a sufficiency in this world for a man's need but not for a man's greed." The words of the Mahatma spoke to me as I waded though the polluting fumes of car congested India. Ability to withstand the unbearable heat wave wearing thin, I retired to the cool solace of a building shade nearby. Man's actions confounded me. Then, something caught my eye. In the corner of the street, a man was pedalling away furiously, as if for a purpose. Curiosity stoked, I went closer and to my pleasant surprise, I saw that it was connected to a computer. Feeling interested, I felt that I had to know what was going on. Thus, I approached the man regarding what his big idea was.
"Oh, this contraption was given to me by someone from an environmental awareness organisation. If I pedal, it powers my computer," the man mused. Stunned, I took a closer look at the design of the wonderful invention. Being ingeniously simple yet generating enough power to power a computer and even a few light bulbs at will, this machine stoked my curiosity about generating clean power-power without emissions. This was the holy grail of energy production. What a boon that would be to countries like India and China where the evils of environmental degradation and global warming were destroying the livelihoods of people and the beauty of the country.
Going deeper into zero-emission technology, it dawned upon me that the technology had to be accessible to the masses. What good is a technological breakthrough if it cannot reach the man on the street? Thereafter began a quest to find a solution to the world's energy problems. One of my major aims was to make sure it was affordable. Being a student, I could only conceptualise ideas. Some of them had coincidentally been attempted before, but I pursued my original ideas and tried to use the scientific knowledge I had acquired until then to design these contraptions. One of them was an electromagnetic engine which used electromagnetism to move a piston. Modelling this engine was a mammoth task-one which my father and I undertook and completed.
benefits of the low cost renewable energy solutions that I wanted to give the
world are nothing short of revolutionary. What is wishful thinking now-a
pollution free world-could become a reality. Hitherto never been done, the
masses could be able to be one of the first to enjoy the fruits of a
technological breakthrough. The thought of this new energy paradigm energised me
in my quest for a solution. I even explored the idea of converting space massinto energy according to Einstein's famous equation E=mc 2, whereby energy could be
produced from mass, possibly that in outer space, and beamed back to the Earth
by satellite. Farfetched ideas but theoretically and recently, partly have been
proven true in reality. These findings ignite the sparks of hope within the
minds of the researcher and the common man alike.
When Marconi broached the idea of transmitting signals by air, those in the scientific community labelled him a lunatic. Today, we know him as the inventor of the wireless radio. Mavericks are seldom, if not never, not laughed at or cast aside. It was disheartening when the same things happened to me. Many of the people, whom I spoke to about my ideas for a low cost zero-emission mode of energy, only appeared to agree with me although their consciousness could not accept this new and abstract idea. Dismissals were what I received from some of the more candid people I brought up this idea with. Inspiration and not defeat welled up in me whenever my ideas were disagreed on.
One day, I hoped that those very people would look back and say to themselves, "Maybe I should have listened to that guy."
Even today, I am still reading journals and articles trying to keep abreast of the latest trends in clean energy. Promise pervades where bleakness reigned supreme once. From time to time, I think of small inventions that could push us towards achieving this vaunted goal. I pencil them down onto paper and then review them to see if they make sense. 'Eureka' moments are rare but the joy of inventing is fuel enough for me to continue in my quest. In my country Singapore, many research institutes such as The Solar Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) are spearheading research to get the next breakthrough in renewable energy. Advancing these worthy causes is definitely one of, if not my main, life's goal.
The passion for lighting up this world without blighting the world with smoke burns brighter than the Sun-the best natural source of energy-in my heart.
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