Sunday, September 14, 2014

Seeing Underground


I read an article about new computers the other day and was reminded of a story my father told me about his father, my grandfather, who passed away in 1969 at the age of 89. Hmmm, that means he was born in the eighteenth century and passed away in the nineteenth. That was more than a life time ago!

My father gave his dad a battery operated radio. When the first time he heard the radio, he was amazed to hear person talking from such a small device. At one point my grandfather said, 'What, what did you say?' It so happened that the announcer repeated the sentence! My grandfather was flabbergasted!

Technology has changed many, many folds since the days of my grandfather or even my father who came to the U.S. in the 1930's by a ship, from Mumbai to L.A.

Today'a story is about something new that's coming up in cell phones.


Seeing Underground

Sagar removed his muddy shoes near the front door, "Mom, where's dad? I think our sprinkler system has a leak or something."

"Mom's in the shower, why do you say there's a leak?" Sagar's 12-year-old sister, Sapna folded the last piece of laundry in the den. "And, Bhaiya when you were investigating the broken pipes in the yard, I folded all the clothes. The next time you have to do all the folding."

Sagar said, "Yeah, sure, thanks, next time. But where's dad? We better fix the leak before it floods the house."

"Let's call a plumber, the guy Mom called last time when a pipe in the sink burst open and flooded the kitchen."

Sagar looked up from mom's list of telephone numbers on the bulletin board.

Mom joined their conversation, "Sagar, Dad is talking with our neighbor about detecting the leak." 

Sapna said, "Are they discussing a plumber who will use a 'thermie' to detect the leak?"

Sagar put the phone back, "Thermie? What's that?"

Sapna said, "Let me read what it says here, 'using the infrared camera attached to the back of your iPhone, a picture of the heat emanating from body is taken.'"

Sagar snatched the paper from Sapna's hands, "Let me see it."

Sapna said, "Hey stop grabbing it, you are going to tear it."

Sagar read on, "Apple is opening a whole new way of looking at the world. Da...d..d..d and..." He read on, "It's like everything glows in its own light, warm things light up the iPhone while cold things are dark."

Sapna was back from putting the clothes away, "Yep, Bhaiya, two objects that differ by 1/5th of a degree of Fahrenheit, can be spotted."

Sagar continued to read, "Yeah, real neat, huh? Cool, you can see the footsteps on a carpet, or a brief heat trail left behind by a hand on the wall. Wow."

Sapna said, "I know it's real cool. Imagine the military has used this technology for years and now sailors, electricians, plumbers etc have started to use it."

"Plumbers? How much does it cost?"

"Ha, keep dreaming Bhaiya. It's for $995/. Wait till it comes on sale."

Sagar said, "Expensive. But how does it work? Hmmm, the resolution is low, only 80 X 60 pixels, or 4800 pixels. The iPhone's near camera is more than 1600 times sharper at 8 megapixels. Wait a minute, Apple stores sells FLIR One at $349. It has second camera that creates a faint overlay of object contours and the thermal image shows."

Mom joined them, "What are you discussing? Oh, I read the story. Thank goodness the camera picks up human skin as a blotchy image, like the hide of a giraffe."

Sagar said, "Yeah, Mom, It can spot heat leaking through insulation, invisible water leaks, wild life lurking in the forest. The article says that it is useful from gaming to medicine."

Mom said, "Children, Dad read it this morning and he went to the neighbor for some research."

Eight-year-old twins came in, "Mom, let's get out, house is going to be flooded... the yard is sopping wet."

Little Soham tracked his dirty shoes in the den, "Water, water everywhere... "

Dad also walked in with the neighbor, "Okay, we are going to turn off the water for an hour or two and trace the leak in the yard."

Sagar said, "Sapna, let's follow dad, twins, you stay with mom, take Soham with you."

The End

© 2014, Meera Desai Shah

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