If you’re in town on Sunday 9th June, I strongly recommend coming along to this! The Natural History Museum is having its 100th Birthday celebration with an all day series of events. There’ll be new spaces and exhibits opening, including the new gardens they’ve been building for some time, and so there’s plenty to explore that will be new, and partly outdoors on a (hopefully) lovely day. (See here for an LA Times article on some of the changes.) As the day draws into the evening, there’ll be a real party brewing, with bands, DJs, bars, and so forth (see below). Kicking off the evening part of the proceedings at 6:30pm will be a talk and Q+A with JPL’s Adam Steltzner (of the Mars Curiosity Mission), in a spot hosted by me.
K. C. Cole has another interesting Categorically Not! for you tomorrow. It is all about distillation, and you can read more about it here, along with information about past events. Here are her words about the event:
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Do you know who said that? I’ll break the post here to give you a moment to think about it. I’m not going to ask for the answer in the comments since you have Google on your side, but you can, if you like, share in the comments whether you knew or guessed it right before you moved to the rest of the post below to learn the answer. (Image above is an illustration by Walter Crane for ‘Snow White’ (1882).) Continuing… Continue reading ‘On Art, Fairy Tales, and Creativity’
The next Categorically Not! is this coming Sunday September 13th. The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events. (Image above right is from the inside of the jacket of KC Cole’s book on Frank Oppenheimer, who will be celebrated in this month’s Cat Not! as you’ll read below. I talked a bit about the book here.)
The theme this month is The Worlds We Make Up. Here’s the description from K. C. Cole:
Well, here it is. After lots of interruptions over the last 24 hours, I give you the trailer for Laser, the next of my films. I think it is a bit more playfully enigmatic than the trailer for the first film. (I’ve only just (half an hour ago) finished recording the music for it, and so it really is being rushed to you straight from the cutting room, as it were.)
See earlier posts for my thoughts about the project, and see the trailer for the first film here, and the actual first film, Shine a Light, here. Sorry it is so late… the semester started and I got swamped. See my chatter about that here.
Well, ok… Boom is not quite accurate, but the idea is that there will be ten kinds of blasts/explosions/major_energetic_events discussed tonight on the History Channel’s The Universe:
The Universe is full of explosions that both create and destroy. The Chicxulub impact on the Yucatan peninsula, which may have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, was two million times more powerful than the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated on Earth. But guess what? That’s only good enough for the very bottom of the Biggest Blasts top ten list. This episode works its way up through supernova explosions and gamma ray bursts all the way to the blast that started it all–the Big Bang.
Sounds good doesn’t it? There’s a lot of good people contributing again, so I know it’ll have some good material and explanations.
In addition, I’m reasonably confident I play a role in this one…This one was a blast (sorry) to film. You saw some posts earlier reporting on some of the filming. Assuming they used the material I did with them, you’ll get to see why I was at the Continue reading ‘Ten Things That Go Boom!’
There was a 24 hour period from 3:30pm Monday to 3:30pm Tuesday where I was engaged in a seemingly insane enterprise. My original plan was to document it here as one of my “24″-style blog posts, but since about 9 hours of it involved nothing but me screaming along to various songs (there’s something marvellous about singing “Roooooxx–anne!!! You don’t have to wear that dress tonight!!!….” and repeating “Put on the Red Light! Put on the Red Light!…” while whizzing along – fast!- on a road trip. I don’t know why), and five and a half hours asleep, I’ll spare you the details of each hour.
So what was the mission? To head to Death Valley. Yes, one of the hottest places on earth at this time of year! Why? To film something for The Universe (that History channel series I sometimes appear on). After my experiences of last Monday, you’d think I’d swear off hot filming situations for a while, but there you go. The physics involved is interesting, and it was an opportunity to get across some rather fun and interesting material (that you don’t usually see on TV) and so I went for it.
It was a routine Wednesday night down at the Edison bar, downtown Los Angeles, last week. This means: Fun with Acrobats!! It is part of their weekly “Incandescence: the Dark Side of Light” series, where throughout the night there are performers all over the floor of the bar, more set piece things on the stage, and rather splendid feats being performed from various points of the ceiling. The theatre group is called AiRealistic.
Tim Burton’s film Sweeney Todd is utterly brilliant. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it since its release in 2007, but it hasn’t grown old for me at all. The Sondheim songs are so well done, for a start, and Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are especially wonderful as the leads (along with the excellent Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall, of course). I caught a bit of them again on HBO the other night and delighted all over again at darkly hued songs such as “A Little Priest”. How many other songs about eating people are quite so excellent? (Lyrics here if you can’t catch them all.)
View of the day from the garden. (Winter. Number x in a limited series of y.) (Click for larger view.) The rains have gone for a while. The sun is back, with clear blue skies to close out the year.
I’m trying to rest. Well, I’m working on various projects at home, mostly. Colours are on my mind a bit in one of these projects, actually. Later today I’m going to be down in the (only slightly mad-scientist) workshop making a portable screen on which to project films.
Sad news from the entertainment world today. Eartha Kitt died today. I thought I’d mark this with a post here. What a wonderfully odd character she was! I’m often a big supporter of those who march to the beat of a different drum, and she certainly fits the bill.
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant were on Daily Mayo for half an hour yesterday. It was a good bit of fun unscripted chatter that’s worth a listen. They were really there to plug the new boxed set of the TV show Extras (which if you have not seen you should put high on your list of viewing priorities – it is quite brilliant), but of course they were also there to mess around a bit.
They asked for a higher standard of question to be emailed in by the viewers, and so I wondered whether anyone would send in some science ones – maybe some physics ones. Sure enough there were. Continue reading ‘Gervais and Merchant on Mayo’
Well, I probably am not worthy of the press credentials I was carrying around with me on Wednesday, as several days later I had still not done my “report” on the event. Well, here it is.
I went to a press conference and a symposium that relates directly to the issues I was talking about in my Tuesday post and its comment stream. All the things I was talking about with regards better contact between the science community and the filmmaking community so as to make films (and shows) that better represent science and scientists more accurately through something closer to a collaborative mode were brought up in these meetings and discussions. It was great to see this issue being taken seriously, and a well-meant effort being made. The core of the idea is to set up an office that will coordinate things – acting as a sort of clearing house that will put filmmakers (of all aspects of the process whether screenwriter, producer, director, etc) in touch with willing scientists who can be helpful in various topics. This is the Science and Entertainment Exchange.
I’ve been running around so much today I forgot to actually mention the event for which I’ll be acting as host tonight, here at USC. This is how I quickly described it to my colleagues, but bear in mind that it is open to all:
I’d like to remind you one last time about the Apollo Visions and Voices event today. Whether it interests you or not, please encourage your students to go. It is the College Dean’s V+V event for the semester, and was chosen to have a focus that would attract science and engineering students and faculty to sit with our friends and colleagues from the arts and humanities. It is at 7:30 pm in Bovard, with a reception at the end. I think that it will be very interesting and enjoyable.
I got this cute postcard from the people at Workaholic Productions. (Click for larger view.) You may recall a post I did some time ago about some things I was doing in a demo lab here at USC for a pilot for a new TV show. (Or, you may not. That’s what the archive is for – browse several of the Tales From The Industry” series here.) At the time I did not tell you about the show in detail, since I don’t like to reveal details of show ideas and so forth when things are still in development.
Anyway, the show is done. It’s a pilot, and so with your support, they may well get the go ahead to make more. So if you’re inclined, go and have a look. What is it about? Well, the idea is to start off with some standard (pulp) sci-fi scenario (alien invasion in this case) that you might see in a movie or tv show, and then through the course of the show examine aspects of what you see to investigate the science behind it. They have actual scientists (and engineers, since a lot of can be really about technology) come on and discuss things, explain science, do demonstrations, and so on and so forth.
This particular show, the pilot, has a lot of the standard alien invasion combat weaponry on display – shooting of ray guns, casting of lightning-bolt-like bursts of Continue reading ‘Sci-Fi Science’
There were three excellent presentations under the theme Bubbles at the most recent Categorically Not! at the Santa Monica Art Studios. See here. The final one was a visual treat which got everyone on their feet applauding at the end. It was Sterling Johnson, lawyer by day, bubble superhero by night, showing us some of his superpowers. I captured some clips of it, and edited them together for you. (Sorry about my laughing into the microphone at one point. I couldn’t help it.)
I was contacted by a researcher at NPR the other day. They wanted me to take part in a live conversation on the program News & Notes (hosted by Farai Chideya). The topic was about kids, technology, and science. In particular the focus was described as follows:
We want to explore the ways kid handle technology. How is technology affecting them in terms of their learning capacity and social skills? The second part of that discussion is this—with all the gadgets that are available to kids, are more of them becoming interested in science in general? We especially want to look at the subject from perspective of urban education.
Yes, all topics that intersect with many of my own interests and passions (which might be why they found me through the blog!), but I did not feel qualified to really answer some of the specific questions pertaining to how things are going currently. There are people who study this full time. I’m not one of them. So I declined to contribute. However, I had a few names in mind, and passed them along, together with two more Continue reading ‘On Other Modes of Learning’
One of my favourite topics to think about, since I was very young, is the effect that direct contact with intelligent alien life would have on our society. It would be transformative, I think, whether it be initially seen as for good or ill. Of course, most imaginings of such an event usually considers the “ill” aspect. I was chatting about the issue recently with a friend of mine while hiking the other day and then I recalled that I forgot to do a blog post on last week’s Sunday night radio listening, part of which was about just this very topic!
The show was in two parts (both good… more on the second later) and the first was a 1994 recreation of the classic War of the Worlds broadcast of 1938. You know the one, I hope… It was a CBS radio broadcast by the Mercury Theater company, masterminded and led by Orson Welles, and was a Howard Koch radio adaptation of the 1898 H. G. Wells novel. As you may know, the radio show created a huge panic among the listening audiences at the time, brought on by a combination of the relative newness of the medium (it was done in the style of a series of on-the-scene breathless news reports) and the general atmosphere in world politics at the time. (There’s a rather good Wikipedia collection of information about it here.)
All of this puts me in a nostalgic mood, since during some of my school days I loved that War of the Worlds rock musical concept album by Jeff Wayne from 1978 (I knew of it only in the early to middle 80s), with a star-studded cast of musicians (Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott, Julie Covington, David Essex and Chris Thompson), and the wonderful voice of Richard Burton as the main protagonist (a journalist). Anybody else remember that? From so many listenings to it, I used to be able to sing along to every note and word of that album! Probably still can, even though I’ve not heard it in so long. Altogether now – Uuuu-Laaaa!!!, or Come on Thun-der-child!!… Here’s a Wikipedia link.
The next Categorically Not! is on Sunday April 27th (upcoming). The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events.
The theme this month is Loops Here’s the description from K C Cole:
When you come right down to it, just about everything is loopy: planets, proteins or life stories, things have a way of coming around again, always with a slightly different spin. This month’s Categorically Not! was conceived as a tribute to Douglas Hofstadter’s new book, I am a Strange Loop, which uses Continue reading ‘Categorically Not! – Loops’
Well, I learned recently* that the BBC wildlife program makers have done it again, breaking new ground in scientific discovery while making a new series. Quite amazing this time. From the Daily Telegraph website:
The BBC will today screen remarkable footage of penguins flying as part of its new natural history series, Miracles of Evolution.
The programme is being presented by ex-Monty Python star Terry Jones, who said: “We’d been watching the penguins and filming them for days, without a hint of what was to come.
“But then the weather took a turn for the worse. It was quite amazing. Rather than getting together in a huddle to protect themselves from the cold, they did something quite unexpected, that no other penguins can do.”
The next Categorically Not! is on Sunday March 9th (upcoming). The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events.
The theme this month is Puzzles! Here’s the description from K C Cole:
What isn’t a puzzle? The universe, life and everything are essentially puzzles that, to borrow from Einstein, “beckon like a liberation.” Designing buildings, choreographing dances, cooking meals and getting along with other people all involve solving puzzles (as, of course, does figuring out what’s right in front of your eyes—not to mention putting together a program such as Categorically Not!) A love of puzzles and the challenge of solving them is deeply embedded in human nature.
I had some unusual guests in my General Relativity lecture yesterday, Eric Salat and Philip Shane, two film makers from Left/Right productions. They’re working on a documentary for the History Channel on the development of various ideas in physics in the early 20th Century, and they wanted to know more about the topics, and to see a full (1 hour and 50 minute) lecture from me.
While it is the History Channel (hence the dramatic subtitle – sorry), it is not part of the series “The Universe”, by the way. It is another separate part of the increased very welcome expansion of that channel’s science programming. Have you noticed the diversification of their programming that they’ve been doing? I’ve mentioned it before, and a number of people have commented on it to me elsewhere. It has been great to see.
My first time sitting down to watch this show in a while and, bizarrely enough, there’s a colleague on the telly! Well, I think that perhaps Lisa was trying a little bit too hard in one or two places to get the physics out. On Colbert, I think you just have to go with the flow and the comedy! But she got quite a bit out in the short time she had…
My favourite bit:
Randall: “Like…the fact that Einstein has taught us that spacetime can be curved or warped…”
So yesterday at Pinewood Studios they announced the name of the upcoming second James Bond film in the new series that (excellently, in my opinion) re-envisions the Bond movie universe. Last year’s first one was “Casino Royale”, you may recall. Did you hear what the next one will be called?
Ok, ok. Since more than a few people have spotted it, I think it is best to (as they used to say in Hill Street Blues back in the 90s) “get out in front of this thing”.
You’ll recall (see list of related posts) many of the good things that I’ve talked about concerning the work various program makers are doing for the History Channel’s The Universe, and KCET is doing for PBS’ WIRED Science, Discovery’s Science Channel, and other science shows I’ve mentioned (and there are more I’ve not yet mentioned). I’ve shared with you some details about some of my own small role in some of these sorts of things so that you can see some of how these programmes come to be, including various shoots I’ve mentioned here and there, various behind-the-scenes activities, and my optimism about what seems to be a general renewed interest by program makers on various channels in making more and better science programs, working more closely with scientists in the process.
From all this you’ll be of the expectation that within a year or two, my dream that everybody on the street will be chatting about science topics/culture just as often as any other topic in our culture might be realized. Well, of course, that’s a bit hasty. The vast majority of stuff out there is just as it always was, and some efforts go rather wrong. Here’s an example:
You’ll remember a couple of fun shoots I did last year. I blogged them here and here. I had high hopes that they’d turn out to be part of something promising. I was (and am) willing to try to bring a little science flavouring to places where it is not normally found, to audiences who don’t normally seek out science programming. Who knows where that can lead? But… the show turned out to be, how shall I put it? Low on science and high on… other stuff, shall we say.
The show I’m talking about is on Spike TV and it is called MANswers. I always knew it was going to be close to the mark, but was willing to take the risk just in case it got a few people thinking about science for a second or two or more. My reasons? No Continue reading ‘Tales From The Industry XIV – MANswers’
I’ve met some striking writers in this town, but these are easily the best so far:
Writers on strike in Hollywood at the Sunset Gower Studios. (This is the Sunset Blvd entrance to parking. Remarkably, it was reported that earlier today at one of these entrances, someone on the production/editing staff deliberately ran over one of the striking writers in his car to gain access to the building.)
I’m sorry. It is a poor opening pun but I could not resist. I was rather excited this morning as I got an email from someone who’s working on a science documentary show I was reading a script for and the subject was “HELP!”. I was wondering if it had something to do with the strike. The show will air not too long from now and I began to Continue reading ‘Struck’
Here’s my promised report/diary on yesterday’s adventures in film-making.
6:45am Got up a bit earlier than perhaps I should have, given that I got to sleep at 1:00am. Spent a while reading a ton of email, and sending some more. Will be away from my regular professoring duties for the whole day, and so wanted to make sure the fort was held. Prepared some appropriate TV clothing (pretty much what I wear normally anyway – simple solid colours), and so forth. Attempted to beautify myself just a tad (with the usual…inconclusive results). Shower and so forth. Coffee and oatmeal, sprinkled with NPR… Read a bit of stuff on dates of historical background on material I’ll be talking about. I often forget that sort of thing, and its never ever needed whenever I do remind myself of it, so after a few minutes I decided not to bother. The core physics ideas are more important, ultimately. Spent time looking for rain gear (the micro-brolly, basically), since supposedly there’s going to be a rainstorm later (hurrah! finally!). Ready to go.
8:45am Fifteen minutes later than I intended to (how did that happen?), I set off to walk to the Sunset/Vermont Red Line subway station. Waved to a neighbour, and we exchanged pleasantries about how nice a day it was.
8:47am Walked past surprised neighbour back toward home…. briskly.
8:52am Riding the Brompton (the folding bike, for those of you not keeping up), I cycled off to the Sunset/Vermont station.
Ok. So I want to make this post timely, but it means that it will begin to let a cat out of the bag. We’ll see how much I can save for a later post as I write1.
So, as I walked to the subway this morning (yes, they have one in LA), I went through my little checklist of things I take on self-assigned assignments of this sort.
Notebook for scribbling: Check
Pen for scribbling: Check
Phone (now with decent back-up camera): Check
Spare battery for camera: Check
Decent excuse/reason for being spectacularly late: Check
Good footwear for endless walking back and forth: Check
By now you get it. I’m either doing one of my parade reports, or perhaps a street fair/party, museum exhibit, or some random science fair, object or installation or other. Yes, but which? Well, apparently I was going to the future:
For what? The story is here. Ok. Full disclosure – I was quite a Brian May fan as a teenager, and as a physicist in training while at Imperial College, London. Now I was going to do a long post about playing electric guitars, building electric guitars (because I was into electronics, physics and music, not because Brian May did it too), analyzing his guitar solos, endless listening to Queen, endless teenage arguing with anyone who would engage about why he was a much better guitarist than [pick the flashy guitarist from some other rock group], probably permanently diminishing my hearing a bit at two huge Queen concerts, and maybe best of all …practicing music with my friends in the same room (it was said) over in Beit Quad that Brian used to use for practice in the days before Queen began! That was quite a thing for me back then. Here’s a little interview with him about his Imperial College days from the IC student newspaper Felix.
This is actually a bit exciting! While eating lunch at home, I’m reading the live updates* on the space shuttle’s preparations for re-entry, since it is going to land in California. It actually might fly overhead while supersonic and we’ll get a sonic boom.
It is currently doing its series of rolls (times are in EDT):
The History Channel is diversifying a bit, and doing their first science show. It will be called “The Universe” and will premiere on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 at 9pm ET. It will be a series of 13 episodes. Here’s a blurb I found on the web:
Itâ€™s been fifty years since man first ventured into outer space. Now we have robots on Mars, telescopes capturing the birth of the stars and their collapse into black holes, and probes slamming into comets at hyperspeed. What weâ€™ve learned has completely changed our understanding of the universe and our relationship with it â€“ we once thought ourselves to be at the center, now we know we are a small, small spec. This epic series throws light on all the known universe and out to the edge of the unknown â€“ whatâ€™s going on out there, what is our place, and is there life outside of Earth?
I like the idea of more TV channels (besides the usual suspects like PBS or Discovery) getting involved in making shows that have more science, so given the end that it serves (see the about page) -and because it is interesting and fun work- I was happy to help out when I got a call to do some interviews to camera for use in the show. (The other show I did some segments for last year -see here and here- turns out to be part of a (reportedly somewhat saucy) variety and comedy show, I’ve since heard! It will air on another channel in the Fall, and I’ll tell you more about it then. )
We recorded on Thursday. The original plan was to record in a house in the Hollywood Hills, with access to some Griffith Park backdrop to shoot some b-roll of me doing a bit of hiking, but the fire put a stop to that. Instead, we found another location – a house with a lovely garden overlooking the Topanga wilderness. (Actually, they wondered whether we could use my house and garden, but I decided that the garden was not ready for prime time yet, having just begun to come out of its Winter slump where there was hardly any rainfall… So it remains still just between me and you my dear blog readers, ok? In the end, it would not have worked anyway since on Thursday there was still a lot of activity from helicopters en route to patrolling the Griffith park embers… not good for filming!)
So I don’t know whether you’ve noticed or not, but there’s been an awful lot of penguin movies (or movies with a big penguin component) recently. There’s yet another one to come out soon about surfing penguins. I’m slightly annoyed by it already, and I can’t really tell you why. It could turn out to be good, I suppose…
So I got to thinking that this could be theoretical physics’ big break! We can pitch our own penguin movie, since we have up our collective sleeve…
The penguin diagram!
This is a type of “Feynman diagram” describing how various particles interact with each other in a specific process. (More on Feynman diagrams here, for example.) What does it have to do with Penguins? Well, this picture I got from Wikipedia might help:
Apparently, John Ellis is responsible for their appearance in the literature, pushed along by Melissa Franklin. The usual suspects were involved too (drinks, a pub, darts, etc…) From the Wikipedia article here is the story, in (we’re told) John’s words:
A most striking representative of an item from a completely different world than mine is the magazine Angeleno. It is among the most glossy of the glossy magazines I’ve ever seen. I’ve no really strong idea of who its intended readership is – this has been a mystery to me for so long, but by default it clearly can’t be someone like me (an academic), I decided upon first seeing it. (You can read about the raison d’Ãªtre of their parent company, Modern Luxury, here.) For some reason it arrives (for free although the cover price is $5.95) in my mailbox every month and I don’t know why. It is almost as though it’s a joke on the part of some prankster deity or other.
It has nevertheless done an excellent job of sneaking past my defenses. I don’t immediately throw it away when I receive it, and I find myself alternately annoyed and fascinated by it. Could this have been part of their plan all along?
It used to be that I was just plain annoyed when it would arrive – as much as 1/2 an inch thick, larger in square footage than most other magazines, highly airbrushed A-list star on the cover, and every page super glossy and shiny – and it would sit there for weeks until I’d find myself glancing inside it … just to confirm that I was justified in my righteous annoyance, you see. Sure enough, it would not disappoint. It has pieces devoted to ways of spending oodles of money on pointless stuff at extraordinary prices. There’s be the hot new treatments (“is Fraxel the new Botox?”). There’d be a gaudy diamond-encrusted PDA for your microscopic toy dog, that you Continue reading ‘When Worlds Collide, I’
Well, the video of the Point of View event of a couple of weeks ago is now available. Click here for streaming media. There’s a problem, however. While my opening off-the-cuff remarks are utterly unimportant, and so it is not a big deal that the audio of that is poor, the big problem is in the third segment. Apparently (according to the A/V person) the Bluetooth microphone that they were using to capture the sound for the video camera must have used up its battery, as all the audio for USC’s Cinematic Continue reading ‘You Can View Point of View’
The show on television called “24” has an interesting format. It is sort of meant to be in real time, and so each episode – roughly an hour long, including advertisements – charts what took place in an hour of a particular day. A whole season is one day. A very harrowing day for the characters in the show, particularly agent Jack Bauer. They are part of an counter-terrorist unit (CTU) trying to save the America from various highly complicated terrorist plots. The terrorists are obsessed with Los Angeles, it seems, which is convenient given that the unit is based in Los Angeles. Having watched two or three seasons of the show now, I’ve also come to appreciate the fact that the terrorist plots hand over to more and more complex and dastardly ones as the show goes along through the day. And the “controlling mind” bad guy earlier in the day is hardly ever the worst and most dastardly person our heroes will meet. There’ll be a really really bad guy along later on with an even worse plan than the one before lunchtime, and so forth. Another reason that it’s lucky that they’re obsessed with Los Angeles, since there’s an excellent supply of theatre and television actors here to be cast in various partsa.
What I’ve really been hoping to see is an episode of the show when Jack Bauer is not saving America/LA. Instead, he’s just… chillin’. Imagine it now: Continue reading ‘Missed Chance’
The next Categorically Not! is Sunday 7th January. The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with ocassional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. There’s a website of past and upcoming events here. You can also have a look at two of the last two descriptions I did of some events here and here, and the description of a recent special one on Uncertainty that was held at the USC campus is here.
Here is K.C. Coleâ€™s description of the upcoming programme:
Movement: You canâ€™t leave home without it. In fact, you canâ€™t get anywhere without itâ€”whether youâ€™re trying to bring about political change, compose music, send a robot to Mars, or merely make your way across a room. You canâ€™t even Continue reading ‘Categorically Not! – Movement’
It starts out with his revolutionary three-way ping-pong table (of course! – and it’s called TriPong1), but before I even clicked on it I knew there’d be a “oh, and by the way, he has an alternative theory of the universe”, at the end.
No, really, I want to know what the reason is. Most times you hear these Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) stories (or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon stories, as we’re supposed to say these days, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevtich), it’s a flying saucer that’s been apparently seen. Why this shape? Where did it come from? Did it predate ficition writings, or come as a result of them? It is an idea that they ought to be symmetrical somehow? Then why not a flying sphere (which would be awfully cool)? Or a flying cylinder? Given that aerodynamics are not really at issue (it seems) with the astonishing technology these things are usually reported to have, why on earth not a flying teacup, for that matter?
Does anyone know or have a good theory about the origins of the flying saucer in our collective imagination? Do people report other shapes more commonly in other cultures?
Yes, there’s always the explanation that you hear about flying saucers more than other shapes because that’s the preferred choice of vehicle of the Visitors, but I’d like to Continue reading ‘What is it with Saucers?’