Professor Dr. Ubuntu Ramanujan woke up recognizing the song of a nightingale.
He looked outside through the opto-electronic sheer curtains of his bedroom window at the moonlit sky, and smiled. The small holographic clock that popped up midair sensing him awake, displayed exactly 3:00AM. Beside him his wife Philomela was sleeping peacefully, undisturbed. She was 8 months into her pregnancy. Ubuntu marveled at her angelic beauty for a timeless minute and seamlessly turned his attention outside into the woods. The same beauty resonated there. The early summer night sky was crystal clear – the star-studded tapestry adorned by the milky way rising like a gigantic plume was no longer a spectacle to behold. It had become commonplace thanks to decade old global restrictions on artiﬁcial lights, after introduction of the now ubiquitous tunable night vision technologies. Yet, it was a very special moment for Prof. U. Ramanujan, a.k.a Uram as christened by his classmates during his high school years. He had long accepted the mischievous sobriquet with some comic relief, but was recently intrigued by the destined synchronicity. Today on his 40th birthday, he was about to receive the 2050 Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the Uniﬁed Random-Access Memory (URAM) in water-based organic nanocomposites, mimicking the phenomena of intuition and epiphany in human psychosomatics. However that was not the reason for his smile.
Uram got up from the bed gingerly, slipped on his sandals, and made a fast and unique hand gesture that represented a Deer head in the Indian classical dance form Odissi. His smart home architecture came with the default gesture operation protocol (GOP) based on standard sign language, but Philomela had insisted on customizing the main gestures with the yoga mudras from her dance practice. Uram had obliged after his initial reluctance was swiftly obliterated by his wife at a Sunday dinner table.
A soft key note acknowledged the gesture, and the square tile below his feet softly lifted Uram up by 5 mm from the ﬂoor through a superconducting levitation, and glided him out of the bedroom into the toilet. The home recycled all the waste water and any extra supply required at the garden and orchard came from an AI optimized combination of rain water harvesting and atmospheric moisture condensation technology. The entire electric power requirement of the house was provided by a high-repetition-rate laser lightning rod. A single induced lightning discharge from a passing cloud stored within super capacitors and distributed through superconducting micro ﬁbers, could power the house for more than a year. The indoor air quality management recently became a thing of the past.
The civil society had successfully reversed anthropogenic climate change by moving completely away from fossil fuel and mining by 2030. Artiﬁcial photosynthesis which mimicked natural leaves led the transition to a solar hydrogen-based economy. By 2040 the entire carbon requirement for renewable synthetic materials were satisﬁ ed globally using environmental CO2 and sunlight as resources.
The tragic 20s had shaped Uram and Philomela into crusaders for sustainable technology. The couples’ family were left homeless by a devastating wild ﬁ re that swept through the western United States in autumn of 2020 and they were hosted at a common municipal shelter where a viral pandemic took the lives of their grandparents. The couple had ﬁrst met over a soap bubble magic demonstration for children organized by the local science and arts club at the shelter facility. They sat beside each other, enthralled by the show. That was when they ﬁrst held their hands in excitement, and something resonated in both that would shape their lives and future careers. While Uram worked in applied physics and engineering, Philomela had her breakthrough contributions in sustainable architecture.
Uram and Philomela’s day started every morning at 5:30AM. After a quick shower Uram’s routine continued with an hour-long silent meditation followed by another hour of practicing on his musical instrument-the classical Sarangi. But today was different. His STEP (Superconducting Transport Emulation Pod) lowered him through the bathroom ﬂoor into his ground ﬂoor studio. The workspace was designed like an egg incorporating mushrooms-based building materials that doubled as sensors and reservoir computers – monitoring, light, temperature, stress, humidity, and consequently optimizing the building architecture and indoor living space. An embedded wireless acoustic sensor network (WASN) customized the audible and the inaudible. A large electronic window stretched across the wall facing the garden. It functioned as a scalable screen for display and was AI optimized to tune transparency for an outdoor view. The studio was equipped with self-assembled levitating ofﬁce furniture. An interesting piece of furniture in the modern space was an antique Thonet Rocking Chair that originally belonged to Philomela’s great grandfather. Uram sat cozily on it while his white Siamese cat Schrödinger curled up on his lap. Uram closed his eyes and relaxed into a meditative contemplation.
Momentous events of the past three decades started to unfurl like a silent movie in his minds’eye. It appeared as a ﬂoating soap bubble with intensely
bright colors that morphed into a high deﬁ nition computer screen. Colors swirling in vortices, random layered ﬂows, non-Newtonian surreal tears of an advanced extraterrestrial –a compassionate god who wept for humanity.
Frames of destruction – oil drenched dead whales washed ashore with plastic in their bellies, migratory birds falling from the sky, carpet of dead honey bees … dissolved into a strong jawline, eyes moist and sparkling, bodies relaxed and strong like ballerinas, a group of youth on a coffee table, a CAD drawing, equations written with chalk, a business case-study, jeans and t-shirts, hiking boots, a backpack, an accordion, a bamboo ﬂute, a guitar, and a warm hug.
Tsunamis, ﬂoods, hurricanes, massive solar ﬂ ares, space based cold wars abandoned and nuclear missiles dismantled, global leaders’ summit is led by the youth reclaiming their future.
Soap molecules were designed with catalysts, and soap bubbles became photocatalytic reactors converting CO2 into usable solar fuel and industry feedstock. News headlines ﬂoated in: Deep sea mining, mountain top removal, fracking, mining in general near any habitat – banned.
Snippets from the agricultural revolution gushed in. A forest based ecological economy emerged within a decade. Dams were dismantled and rivers ﬂ owed clear through a symbiotic landscape. New sustainable eating habits emerged naturally, weather patterns normalized, pollution vanished from the face of the earth, violence at all levels and in all forms were abrogated voluntarily by the civil society.
POEMS were invented. Proto-Opto-Electro-Mechanical-Systems. Soap molecules made out of organic semiconductors stabilizing a soap ﬁlm into an optoelectronic semipermeable membrane. They served as building blocks of a hybrid proton-electron based technology. Laser branching experiments in a soap ﬁ lm led to a fundamental understanding of life in living matter. Insects were simulated by the technology and highly efﬁcient bionic sensors and devices were born out of a decade’s dedicated scientiﬁc and business effort. Communication technology was revolutionized with the understanding of quorum sensing and collective behavior in birds, ﬁsh, and insects.
Room temperature superconductivity was discovered in synthetic plastic aqueous nanocomposites. Transport was revolutionized with matchbox size superconducting traction motor drives working on palm size organic solar panel and tandem supercapacitors. Public transport was transformed by superconducting levitation. Seminal discoveries in quantum gravity inspired a generation of scientiﬁ c research on Cartesian Coordinate Hopping (CCH) in long distance vehicular transport. For urban ground transport, bicycles featuring advanced materials and technology support, were selected unanimously throughout the globe as the preferred mode.
A pioneering WHO report disseminated a comprehensive understanding of music and noise on human wellbeing and symbiosis. An industrial revolution led to a clean noise free world. Honey bees, butterﬂies and humming birds returned.
Sonars were banned, ships sailed with wind power – whales and dolphins returned. Nature of music changed – the youth returned to playing ﬁelds, to the oceans, to the skies, to the hiking trails, and voluntarily gave up all forms of addictions.
The global academic model and environment underwent a revolution. Science Arts and Philosophy blended seamlessly promoting an unprecedented expansion of the human mind. Technology unconditionally served health peace and awareness. Gender, age, ethnic barriers dissolved. The United Nations on the ﬁrst Global Solidarity Day declared a universal
anthem, building on Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and Ravindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali. As billions sang in unison the anthem dissolved into a peaceful empty silence within which all that remained was a distant song of a nightingale. The intelligent WASN noise cancellation system had ﬁ ltered outdoor sound and streamed
it to percolate within the studio space.
With his eyes still closed, Uram smiled again. Nightingales
were declared extinct in 2030.
Note: The Story was published in the January edition of Bunsen Magazine
The image of the soap ﬁlm is from the University of Princeton’s art gallery