Rendezvous with Rama : बोलो सियावर रामचन्द्र की जय!

चित्र 1 : “राम” नाम का अन्तरिक्ष यान जो हमारी आकाश गंगा से बाहर पृथ्वी की तरफ आया जिस पर “सीता” नाम के यान का राम सीता मिलन हुआ. फिर एक यान में बैठ कर अन्तरिक्ष यात्री ‘राम’ के भीतर गया, फिर क्या क्या हुआ, “साइंस फिक्शन” की किताब में पढ़िए.

गनीमत है 1973 में प्रकाशित इस पुस्तक के समय राम जन्मभूमि का मसला नहीं गर्माया था. अन्यथा बाबरी मस्जिद गिराने बाले सभी कार सेवक, ढांचा गिराने के पहले ब्रिटिश दूतावास को गिराने पहुंच जाते. कार सेवक आरोप लगाते कि अंग्रेजों ने राम और सीता के नाम का दुरूपयोग करके हमारी धार्मिक भावनाओं का अपमान किया. शायद कार सेवकों को अंग्रेजी नहीं आती होगी और वह अंग्रेजी में लिखी इस किताब को ठीक से पढ़ नहीं सके होंगे. अन्यथा आर्थर क्लार्क लेखक के पुतले जरूर जलते. और कोई न कोई राम भक्त ‘आर्थर क्लार्क ‘की नाक कान काटने की धमकी जरूर दे देता. हो सकता है कोई मनचला उनकी गर्दन हलाक करने का फतवा भी जारी कर देता.

चित्र – 2 : हूबहू आर्थर क्लार्क की किताब में वर्णित अन्तरिक्ष यान के आकार जैसा है जो अभी सुदूर आकाश गंगा से सैर करने हमारे यहाँ सचमुच आया है. फर्क इतना है कि किताब में राम के आने का समय सन 2130 बताया गया है “सीता राम “ का मिलन मंगल ग्रह के चन्द्रमा से छोड़े गये यान के जिक्र के बाद में हुआ है. अभी जो रामदूत बनकर सच में दूसरे ग्रह से यान जैसी अज्ञात चीज आई है उसे वैज्ञानिकों ने “ऊमुआमुआ” नाम दिया है.

काश आर्थर क्लार्क ने जो नई “राम कथा “रची है उसी तर्ज पर “पद्मनी पुराण “ भी लिख दिया होता तो आज “भंसाली” को डर के मारे “सलमान रशदी “ बनकर नहीं रहना पडता.

“बोलो सिया वर राम चन्द्र की जय। जय जय श्री राम !”

Rendezvous with Rama is a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke first published in 1973. Set in the 2130s, the story involves a 50-kilometre (31 mi) cylindrical alien starship that enters Earth’s solar system. The story is told from the point of view of a group of human explorers who intercept the ship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries. The novel won both the Hugo[4] and Nebula[5] awards upon its release, and is regarded as one of the cornerstones in Clarke’s bibliography. The concept was later extended with several sequels.

After an asteroid falls in Northeast Italy in 2077, creating a major disaster, the government of Earth sets up the Spaceguard system as an early warning of arrivals from deep space.

The “Rama” of the title is an alien starship, initially mistaken for an asteroid categorised as “31/439”. It is detected by astronomers in the year 2131 while it is still outside the orbit of Jupiter. Its speed (100,000 km/h) and the angle of its trajectory clearly indicate it is not on a long orbit around the sun, but comes from interstellar space. The astronomers’ interest is further piqued when they realise the asteroid has an extremely rapid rotation period of 4 minutes and is exceptionally large. It is named Rama after the Hindu god,[6] and an unmanned space probe dubbed Sita is launched from the Mars moon Phobos to intercept and photograph it. The resulting images reveal that Rama is a perfect cylinder, 20 kilometres (12 mi) in diameter and 54 kilometres (34 mi) long, and almost completely featureless, making this humankind’s first encounter with an alien spacecraft.

The solar survey vessel Endeavour is sent to study Rama, as it is the only ship close enough to do so in the brief period Rama will spend in the solar system. Endeavour manages to rendezvous with Rama one month after it first comes to Earth’s attention, when the alien ship is already inside Venus’ orbit. The crew, led by Commander Bill Norton, enters Rama through a dual safety system consisting of two sets of triple airlocks, and explores the vast 16-km wide by 50-km long cylindrical world of its interior, but the nature and purpose of the starship and its creators remain enigmatic throughout the book. Rama’s inner surfaces hold vast “cities” of geometric structures that resemble buildings and are separated by streets with shallow trenches. A mammoth band of water, dubbed the Cylindrical Sea, stretches around Rama’s central circumference. Massive cones, which the astronauts theorise are part of Rama’s propulsion system, stand at its ‘southern’ end. They also find that Rama’s atmosphere is breathable.

One of the crew members, Jimmy Pak, who has experience with low gravity skybikes, rides a smuggled skybike along Rama’s axis to the far end, otherwise inaccessible due to the cylindrical sea and the 500m high cliff on the opposite shore. Once at the massive metal cones on the southern end of Rama, Jimmy detects a strange magnetic field coming from the cones, which increases, resulting in lightning. A discharge hits his skybike, causing him to crash on the isolated southern continent.

When Pak wakes up, he sees a crab-like creature picking up his skybike and chopping it into pieces. He cannot decide whether it is a robot or a biological alien, and keeps his distance while radioing for help. As Pak waits, Norton sends a rescue party across the cylindrical sea, using a small, improvised craft, constructed earlier for exploration of the sea’s central island.The creature dumps the remains of the skybike into the sea, but ignores Pak himself, who explores the surrounding fields while waiting for the rescue party to arrive. Amongst the strange geometric structures, he sees an alien flower growing through a cracked tile in the otherwise sterile environment, and decides to take it as both a curiosity and for scientific research.

Pak jumps off the 500m cliff, his descent slowed by the low gravity and using his shirt as a parachute, and is quickly rescued by the waiting boat. As they ride back, tidal waves form in the cylindrical sea, created by the movements of Rama itself as it makes course corrections. When the crew arrives at base, they see a variety of odd creatures inspecting their camp. When one is found damaged and apparently lifeless, the team’s doctor/biologist Surgeon-Commander Laura Ernst inspects it, and discovers it to be a hybrid biological entity and robot—eventually termed a “biot”. It, and by assumption the others, are powered by internal batteries (much like those of terrestrial electric eels) and possess some intelligence. They are believed to be the drones of Rama’s still-absent builders.

The members of the Rama Committee and the United Planets, both based on the moon, have been monitoring events inside Rama and giving feedback. The Hermian colonists have concluded that Rama is a potential threat and send a rocket-mounted nuclear bomb to destroy it should it prove to pose a threat, but Lt. Boris Rodrigo takes advantage of the 8 minute transmission delay and uses a pair of wire cutters to defuse the bomb and its control.

As Rama approaches perihelion, and on their final expedition, the crew decide to visit the city closest to their point of entry, christened “London” and use a laser to cut open one of the “buildings” to see what it houses. They discover transparent pedestals containing holograms of various artefacts, which they theorise are used by the Ramans as templates for creating tools and other objects. One hologram appears to be a uniform with bandoliers, straps and pockets that suggests the size and shape of the Ramans. As the crew photographs some of the holograms, the biots begin returning to the cylindrical sea, where they are recycled by aquatic biots (‘sharks’) and the six gigantic striplights that illuminate Rama’s interior start to dim, prompting the explorers to leave and re-board Endeavour.

With Endeavour a safe distance away, Rama reaches perihelion and utilizes the Sun’s gravitational field, and its mysterious “space drive”, to perform a slingshot manoeuvre which flings it out of the solar system and towards an unknown destination in the direction of the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Explanation: Nothing like it has ever been seen before. The unusual space rock ‘Oumuamua is so intriguing mainly because it is the first asteroid ever detected from outside our Solar System — although likely many more are to follow given modern computer-driven sky monitoring. Therefore humanity’s telescopes — of nearly every variety — have put ‘Oumuamua into their observing schedule to help better understand this unusual interstellar visitor. Pictured is an artist’s illustration of what ‘Oumuamua might look like up close. ‘Oumuamua is also intriguing, however, because it has unexpected parallels to Rama, a famous fictional interstellar spaceship created by the late science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Like Rama, ‘Oumuamua is unusually elongated, should be made of strong material to avoid breaking apart, is only passing through our Solar System, and passed unusually close to the Sun for something gravitationally unbound. Unlike a visiting spaceship, though, ‘Oumuamua’s trajectory, speed, color, and even probability of detection are consistent with it forming naturally around a normal star many millions of years ago, being expelled after gravitationally encountering a normal planet, and subsequently orbiting in our Galaxy alone. Even given ‘Oumuamua’s likely conventional origin, perhaps humanity can hold hope that one day we will have the technology to engineer ‘Oumuamua — or another Solar System interloper — into an interstellar Rama of our own.