Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The eye of the sun...

Whats the common between archimedes, tintin and me?
(here's a hint...)

If you still didn't get it,,,then go ahead and read the story!

Dateline - Summer 2001
Place - Hyderabad (School 10th class)

In school we had something called a Geo-Map quiz, where we were given detailed maps and had to find things and answer some questions using the maps..An interesting (and famous) quiz, i enrolled.. Pre-requisites - A pencil, rubber, scale and a magnifying glass!
So,, i bought a small magnifying glass(wanted a big one, but didnt have enough money), wrote the test and came back.. But now i had a magnifying glass,, and nothing to do with it..After the general time pass with it (looking at peoples writing, window sills, dust particles, little insects, people's ears etc...).. I had nothing to do with it..

I wasn't willing to believe that my new toy had lived its life.. Then, I remembered that I read somewhere that we can burn things using the glass..Never seen it, so i obviously, i had to test the claim!!

During one lunch break, i sat in class trying to figure out how..Focusing the light to get a single spot, was the general idea.. To test if that was actually and good ,,i focused sunlight on my hand! If it makes me jump,,then thats the way to go! Needless to say, after a couple of attempts, i was jumping around class holding my hand... 5 minutes later, back to business...Tore a paper from the book, focused sunlight, and waited (me watching closely).. and waited..and waited (classmates getting curious as to what i was doing)... and waited(thinking what i'm doing wrong).. and waited( getting irritated)..and waited(started loosing focus, looking here and there..) ...A couple minutes later,, i just left it..Nothing seemed to happen!! The paper just seemed warm at the place that i was focussing on for the last 10 min..A few seconds later,,even that went back to normal... Lunch break over - Experiment failed....
  1. success - 10% - (would've been zero,, but i atleast burned my hand.)
  2. interest of friends aroused..Ideas started coming in!

Next day, some class, teacher not come yet.. There was time to kill, so out came the glass.. Friends around me, who were bored too, now had something to do!! 5 (unsuccessful) minutes later, people lost interest... I knew i was doing something wrong... So, taking ideas from friends(gillu, makhi and sriram),, i changed the paper to an old newspaper, tried burning an edge instead of the center and kept my hand as still as i could... And just when i was about to lose hope,, a faint line of gray, seemed to appear in front of me for an instant.. I was doubtful of what i saw, but i tried again anyway.. This time,, i had a nice and clear line of smoke coming off the paper!! Mission Success!

The following lunch, a burning session was in order! papers were burned, benches were burned, water on the bench, caused bubbles to be created from inside the water! The following few days, my mark was created on the table i sat, and on my seat in the bus.. With my name engraved, eternally by the heavenly flames, no one could contest the seat!! :)
Whenever we had free time in class,, some talked, some read, some slept.. i burnt !!

Coming back to the question, what is common Archimedes and me? He used the sun to fight of romans,, i used the sun to fight of boredom!
(what i fought was the more eternal of the two!)

2nd question...
Whats common between tintin and me???
For this, we go back to 10th class,, to the class of the great teacher, who's the reason i got into the habit of sleeping in class...Satya maam, social studies (history, civics).. The slooooooow speed of talking, reinforced by the multiple repetitions and a few boring history chapters, was as strong as any sleeping pill you'll ever pop!!
With lots of time to kill in her class, magnifying glass came to the rescue again! I used to sit beside the window and burn stuff while she was teaching.. One class, i was playing around with the glass, focussing and things on the bench, and she calls my name.. I look up,,and keep a straight face,, she continues... No more burning for this class,, i thought..Just then,
makhi ( sitting to left) whispers : " abe, stop burning things !
me: "i'm not burning anything!!"
makhi(abt 10 seconds later): "Abe, stop burning things in class!! I have asthma, i can't breathe with it.."
me: "I'm not burning anything!!"
About 10 seconds after that,,i felt something piercing my leg,,startled,, i jumped.. After the giggles in class subsided, i tried to figure out what happened... There was a nice royal hole, straight through my pants!! What felt like a needle,, was actually the sunlight that burnt through my pant !!! Only then, did i realise that my hand was on the window-sil, and the magnifying glass was hanging in a way as to focus light on me!! Makhi was not wrong after all !! If only i had listened to him,, i would'nt have had to wear those air-conditioned pants for the rest of the year!!
The light made a clear hole, unlike any scissors or worn out stuff i've seen.. This was a very nice, clean and precise hole! I almost patted my back for it ! And then, for the rest of the year tried explaining people why i have a black colored hole, in my gray pant !

So whats the difference between Tintin and me ??
Tintin (in The prisoners of the sun) knew he might get burnt...But he escaped the power of the glass,,and lived to tell the tale...
Me : I didnt think i could,, but got burned by the sun,, and still live to tell the tale!!

Pointers for those who wanna try-
1. The bigger, the better! (magnifying glass,,i meant)
2. Use old newspapers/recycled paper..Burns much more easily
3. Burn paper at the edges
4. Burning ease : Rexine> unpolished wood > new paper > notebook paper
A steady hand ,,focusing on the same point for a min is enough in any conditions to burn some paper!!


  1. The smoking bench!! Ah, the vivid memories! :). I remember we ended up making some really big black spots on those benches.

  2. We thought the changes would last for a long time...but when anil and i went the next year,,we saw all that the benches were repainted... They hadn't done it in years,,,they had to do it after we made our mark...

  3. ROFL !!!! That was some funny stuff about you burning ur pants :D ...

  4. Infact, you burnt more than one seat in the bus.. you just had to leave your signature on every seat that looked clean and could come under the light of the sun..