Sunday, August 05, 2007

People Power

In the late seventies and early eightees, clusters of "uemployed youth" shooting the breeze was a common site on the Indian roadside culvert. Though they did not bother us kids, adults found them very annonying. I had once overheard a conversation in our living room that went "Someone should come up with a way to harness the energy of these louts. If not anything they could pour water from the sea to a human powered turbine to generate electricty"

While I was not quite able to picture this fantastic operation, I caught the general drift. It was all about making this idling sea of humanity expend their calories to some productive end. The gentleman's wish has now come true thanks to the efforts of MIT.

A Crowd Farm in Boston's South Station railway terminal would work like this: A responsive sub-flooring system made up of blocks that depress slightly under the force of human steps would be installed beneath the station's main lobby. The slippage of the blocks against one another as people walked would generate power through the principle of the dynamo, a device that converts the energy of motion into that of an electric current.

Clearly, the disgruntled bhadralok was onto something, he just didn't know how to make it work.

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