Philosophy and Principles of Strength
By Viraj Kalyani, Founder & Chairman, Kalyani Studio
Have you ever marveled at a piece of machinery or automobile, a large aircraft, or a small nimble device and wondered how does it work? These everyday engineering marvels have gone through decades of innovation, experimentation, iterations, failures and re-launches to get to where they are. The fact that you see them every day, means they are reliable. They are made up of several systems and sub-assemblies, electronic circuits and power sources. But their core of robust and reliable performance comes from Strength.
Strength is everywhere. It is a form of pressure with which objects can withstand forces, lift objects, carry them over distances or against gravity, push through objects (compression) of resist pulling forces (tension). It is a latent power that shows itself in testing times. It is within each of us as well in inanimate objects. The more we understand the nature of strength the better we can harness it. Harnessing strength requires the use of two highly intertwined sciences – design and engineering.
Strength can be quantified, measured, analyzed, improved. It is not static and permanent. This is important and a fundamental requirement to do better. My personal fascination with strength comes from the fact that I grew up in a world of strength engineering, constantly hearing the beat of a forging press from near and far and the feeling of energy that it emanates. The energy is not just sentimental, but in a real sense, one that transforms metal to become stronger by compressing it.
Why is strength a distinct form of energy?
When you hit a block of metal with a hammer (A), we studied in high school physics that kinetic energy is transferred to the block in the form of motion/vibration, sound, and deformation. But you can hit a block of sponge (B) and the outcome is different. Now consider hitting a metal lattice block with porous holes (C), like the sponge. All are hit with the same force and acceleration, hence the same energy. Why do they behave differently? Different materials, ok. But why do different materials behave differently? Why are A and C different when they are the same material. One could argue that C is a blend of two materials – metal and air. But that doesn’t take into account the shape of the lattice which has infinite permutations. It may be possible that there are many volumes inside A which do not contribute anything to withstanding the force of the hammer. So, strength is the ability to withstand something, to withstand a different form of energy.
Strength as Superpowers and Sci-Fi
Human society has forever been fascinated with things that seem far out of reach yet imaginable. Some call it science fiction and it keeps us going. There are two major varieties of Sci-Fi – Future Based (Outer Space) and Alternate Worlds (Super-powers). It is only a matter of time when our imagination can convert to reality. This is coming already in the first category of Outer Space. Just look at the kind of space based movies that are being released each year. They are more close to reality than to fiction. I’d like to make a dent in the latter – Alternate Worlds – variety of Sci-Fi and delve into the world of Superpowers. Superpowers can be a popular terminology for the more sober Strength.
Hence we come back to my earlier definition of Strength, which means it is a latent form of energy, which manifests when required. In an era of proliferating digital technologies, we have forgotten the physical world. But our fascination with new frontiers of outer space will compel us to relook at the physical world and the unearthed knowledge around it. Digital Technologies are always a means to a physical end. Because the core that makes a product perform is its strength.