Chapter IV - Hairy Details
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  1. Santosh Vattam for correcting tonnes of grammatical mistakes.
  2. Sudarshan for anchoring the concept into sketchs.
  3. Friends: Punchagan, Ritesh, Nandeep, Kartik, Ashish for comments, feedback, suggestions, support, and encouragement.

Continuing from part 3

Madhu and Mahinder continued talking.

Madhu said, "It's not just the cable, the whole setup involves unique challenges. Cables and material needed for them is just one part of it."

Mahinder asked, "How so?".

Madhu continued, "First of all, that lightning carries, millions of volts and 20-30 thousand amperes or even more1"

Mahinder was surprised, "Wow, that high current. That would melt away steel or any kind of material."

Madhu asserted, "Exactly. But, it is very short timed. The whole load lasts for milliseconds."

Mahinder "Aaah, that makes sense. That's why the earthing system we install don't burn up on every strike."

Madhu, "Yes".

Mahinder, "But lightning strikes are very random right? Can we actually direct it in someway towards the battery? Lets say the shipping companies have all the fancy setup with all cables, still how would they get lightning to strike on their cable connected to the battery?"

Madhu, "That again is another part of setup we will have to take care of"

Mahinder was listening.

Madhu, "What I am able to gather so far is, bottom line, lightning can't be controlled".

Mahinder, confused, "Well, then all this is like a wild goose chase?"

Madhu, "Hear me out. Yes, it can't be controlled. But we can significantly increase our chances of trapping a strike."

Mahinder, "Ohh, how significant?"

Madhu, "Again, I don't have exact number, I am still reading and learning about this stuff myself."

Mahinder, "Yeah, that's not an issue. We can sort out the logistics as we get better understanding, but still…"

Madhu, "Okay, let me first tell you what would be needed. Then we can decide if we want to do this at all".

Mahinder agreed "Fair enough".

Madhu, "First thing, the grounding system, which protects houses from lightnings. They are not meant to attract the lightning, they decreases the chances of lightning".

Mahinder, "Aaah, yes. They don't let charge build up".

Madhu, "Correct.".

Mahinder, "So, we won't be able to have this setup at our house itself. Given that everyone installs this system, effectively whole area is contributing to minimising the chances of a lightning strike.".

Madhu became ecstatic, "Exactly, and not just that, given that the setup for Simba increases the chances of a strike, there are legal restriction of setting it in populated area.".

Mahinder was surprised, "What? There is a law around it?"

Madhu, "Yeah, even I was surprised when I read about it".

Mahinder started thinking again, "Ohhh interesting. So umm we will set it up somewhere remote and open. And that way, given there won't be other buildings or structures, the setup will have decent chance of catching one of those strikes. Aaah, Now I understand what you meant when you said increasing the chances."

Madhu, "Again, yes, that's exactly what I was thinking. We can have decent opportunity of getting this to work. If we can find such a place that is."

Mahinder suggested, "How about the Sam(Sand dunes of Jaiselmer)?"

Madhu had doubts, "They could be a good place, yes, but it would be a logistic nightmare."

Mahinder wanted to explain more his suggestion, "No, wait, think about it. We have dust-storm(aandhi, आंघी ही आंधी) season coming up, in week or so. It is off season, there won't be anyone in Sam. Place is literally deserted. Only Dunes and the storm. We setup Simba and charging unit there. Bring it back if and when we get lucky, before people(tourists or others) start movement in Sam."

Madhu tried to present her argument, "But we won't be able to just walk there with this battery. We will need to carry it and the setup. It is remote, yes, there won't be other people to disrupt things, yes. But there are no roads leading to the Sam. We will have to find a decent dune which has good height and climb on top of it with all these equipment."

Mahinder jumped to another suggestion, "We can take my father's hybrid Thar Jeep? It has four wheel drive. It is meant to climb those dunes."

Madhu cautioned Mahinder, "Well the four wheel drive won't work unless the battery of jeep is completely charged. And our stock of diesel is almost over."

Mahinder again tried to convince her, "We can pull this off. One way journey. This could be our only chance of having good, reliable, free, long lasting, good power source. We take the setup, jeep, charged and with diesel. Till we hit the dunes we run it on battery, as we start going off the road, we shift to diesel. We leave the jeep and complete setup there and get it back when things work out."

Madhu again trying to convince Mahinder of the risks involved, "I understand, it sounds possible but think. We might not be able to bring Jeep back if this doesn't work out. And there can be risks of theft. We will have some expensive material involved in the setup."

Mahinder was all in. He knew about the risks involved but the things he was risking weren't exactly helping them in improving their quality of life. They are considered of value but not to Mahinder. For him, this opportunity was rare and it can help a lot in their day to day life. Maybe for year if not months. He finally spoke, "Yaar Madhu, yes, risks are involved. But I trust you more than the odds. For long we have worked hard. There are unknowns, we will figure them out, together. But please, lets do this."

Madhu was excited, she felt this rush going through her. She knew about the challenges but at that moment they all appeared solvable. She said, "Got it. So, no room for doubt. Lets give it our best shot. We need this and lets get it."

They both hugged(shook hand?). There was a moment of calmness. And Madhu broke it, "First up, the heist, lets rob MML of her useless jewellery."

Mahinder chuckled on hearing it.

part-5 References:



: There are some 50-100 lightning strikes occurring somewhere on the planet every second, and can carry as much as 200,000 amps of electricity, and generate over 100 million volts in a single strike.