The time-honoured fable of The Rabbit and The Tortoise, narrating the challenge posed by the fast-running rabbit to the slow-moving tortoise may have also witnessed a time-warp given its rare occasions on which children happen to be made aware of the message slow and steady wins the race. One cannot be faulted to infer that the modern child may miss focus on the steady factor of the event by miles being influenced by the conviction that speed is the essence of life in our times. The field of astronomy may not lure people at large in the manner the field of astrology does even in the present era dominated by science and technology. The knowledgeable in the former field may agree that the universe, comprising the nine (now eight, with Pluto losing its identity) planets and infinite number of twinkling stars, provides the unparalleled example for the steady factor in the august company of the speed factor.
The speed at which planet Earth moves around the sun and revolutions of the planet on its own axis are both amazingly steady, a feature that has remained steady since the time planet Earth emerged in the universe some 4.5 billion (4,500 crore) years ago. If these features changed even a wee bit, the consequences are too many and beyond one’s comprehension. In brief, the 24-hours-a-day and the 365-days-a-year schedule no longer hold validity.
We owe it to the 16th century Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 21, 1543) for formulating the model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the centre of the universe. Having raised the issue of speed and steady factor as they together ensure safety of the universe, one is obliged to ponder over these features applied to our daily life. We are in an era of fast automobiles, fast travel, fast communication, fast trains, fast food, fast this and fast that. In the process of the mind getting stumped by speed, we may sideline the factor of safety, going by the growing number of road mishaps resulting in injuries and fatalities that can be avoided by going even at marginally less speed.
Speed and slowness have their connect in a unique way that assumes relevance in the current goings on in the country witnessing chopping of full-grown trees and planting of saplings. Can anybody increase the speed (on time scale) of the saplings take the place of the chopped trees that have helped the quality of air to be steady for ages?