PRIDE FOR PUNJAB – PUSHPA GUJRAL SCIENCE CITY
Rajesh C. Bali*
The long wait of the people of Punjab and its neighbouring states has ended as the first phase of the Pushpa Gujral Science City would be open to public from March 19, 2005. This is the largest and the second Science City in India. The first one exists in Kolkatta. Situated on Jalandhar-Kapurthala road in an area of 72 acres, it is named after the mother of former Prime Minister of India Shri I.K. Gujral who was a social worker.
Shri Gujral laid its foundation stone on Oct. 17, 1997. However, the actual construction started in 2002. The project which primarily aims at popularising science through “edutainment” i.e. education through entertainment is meant for all the age groups. It will showcase many such scientific wonders, which can force viewers to think whether they are dreaming or seeing the things unfolding in front of their eyes. The project intends to cultivate an interest in science, through open-ended exploration away from textbooks and black boards, with a scientific approach to problem solving.
The biggest project of its kind in the Northern India, as told by its Director General, Dr R.S. Khandpur, is intended to fire the imagination and creativity, foster the spirit of inquiry and exploration especially in the young minds
The Science City is having very picturesque and captivating buildings. The Science Voyage Hall building, which would be housing the major attraction of the Phase-I galleries, has been built with an aerial view of spaceship. The implementation of the project has been divided into two phases. In Phase-I, the main attractions consist of Giant Dome Theatre, Flight Simulator, Virtual 3-D Show and Indoor Laser Show. The Giant Dome Theatre having a capacity of 326 people has outer appearance of a giant world globe showing India prominently. It consists of less than 1-inch square computer designed tiles and the Large Format film would be projected in 23 meter-tilted dome. The film is of 15/70 frame, which is 10 times larger than 35mm used in regular theatres and 3 times larger than standard 70mm film used in classic Hollywood epics. Semi circular giant dome screens produce huge images that soar and swoop above, beside and behind you to fully surround you in the immersible experience. Uncompressed digital, wrap around sound is simply unsurpassed in depth and clarity from a small drop of rain to a massive clap of thunder, you will hear every shade and subtlety, regardless of where people are sitting. In short the whole atmosphere in the theatre will engulf people from all four directions. Flight Simulator is a 30 seater theatre style ride simulator where people would sit on a chair in the capsule and watch the computer generated ride film screen for a dynamic, fast moving and immersing experience. It would provide visitors a sense of adventure through virtual expeditions to Moon and Space. In the Virtual 3-D Show one will see the objects flying out of the screen coming in new direction; creepy characters reaching out to grab you, thus giving a feeling that you are a part of an action. The visitors in the theatre would wear goggles, which visualize scenes in a 3-D form. Another major attraction is Indoor Laser Show, which combines innovative computer technology and precision optical engineering to accurately trace images on screen. Argon and Krypton lasers are used to produce single and multiple colours simultaneously or separately. The images are projected on a motorised thin nylon net screen. Fog liquid sprayed on the screen is to make it suitable for projections of dazzling laser animation and motion pictures to provide spectacular effects. These are latest lasers in the field of scientific entertainment. A much hype and curiosity exists in the minds of people regarding these type of shows as “they practically do not exist in our region”, claims Dr. Khandpur. Besides, these four major attractions, other places of interest include Space Gallery (Cosmos) which consists of display cut-view models of satellites and various applications of space technology. Here the visitors can also check their weight on moon and various planets. A Planetarium is also being housed which would not only cover the topics on space and astronomy but also on Hindu Mythology, Biology, Weather and Bird Migration. In the Fun Science Exhibits corner a large number of interactive exhibits are placed on the basis of basic fundamental science themes. The exhibits will reflect the basic principles of reflection, refraction, sound waves, vibrations, illusions, primary colours, work, energy, power etc. in a very interesting and interactive way. Then there is a Cyber Space Gallery which will provide visitors hands-on experience on Internet, GIS, educational software and also access to CD library which will be having material on various science related topics. An Energy Education and Awareness Park has also been setup in the Science City displaying the applications of various renewable energy sources as solar, wind, hydel and bio energy. The four unique and attractive buildings are being constructed at the Science City to house the exhibits on the themes of solar, wind, hydel and bio energy. For boating lovers, a large artificial lake has been set up in the centre of the Science City with a rowing distance of about 1 kilometre. It will be having an island on which a Dinosaur Park will be established. There would be manual paddle operating boats and solar boats for the visitors to move through the lake and to have a look at the Dinosaur Park. In the Health Gallary one can learn more about the working of brain, heart and eyes, disease and the prevented health maintenance practices and much more about human genome. Although people of all age groups can enjoy all these attractions but a Kids Science Park has specially been established for children between the age group of three to eight years. The Park consists of skilled games and swings and seesaws generating curiosity among the children. In Phase II, which would be completed in another two years, there would be galleries on Evolution of Man, Evolution of Electronics and Electric Power. Enhancing the concern of visitors regarding the environment pollution and useful balanced ecology, an Environment Park is being developed. Also, to make the visitors aware about the latest technologies, a gallery on emerging technologies has been planned. This gallery would show how nano-technology, biotechnology, optical computing and levitation are going to change the science scenario in coming years. A gallery on defence technologies has been proposed. According to Dr. Khandpur, two fighter aircrafts, one helicopter, one battle tank and two missile launchers have been proposed to be supplied by the Defence Ministry. And last but not the least, after roaming in the City in an internal transport provided by the authorities, one can fulfill his appetite in various kinds of restaurants and food kiosks situated within the premises. However, the time will tell that how much knowledge one gathers and enjoys the exciting Science City, a joint project by the Centre and the Government of Punjab, to be fully completed with a total cost of Rs.100 crore.
*Information Assistant, PIB, Jalandhar