Science on Screen

Sent this around to a few friends already, but Jude and I went to another night of Science on Screen at the Belcourt Theater here in Nashville. Apparently, there are a few other locations around the country doing this, so if it’s in your neighborhood, check it out. It’s sponsored by a grant from the Sloan Foundation, and features a series of films and documentaries connecting science to Hollywood, so to speak. And, with each movie, they bring in guest scientists, engineers, professors, and so on.

Last week, Jude and I went to the opener, 2001: A Space Odyssey, which sold out. Great to see on the big screen again. Afterwards, Fred Ordway, who worked for NASA under Werner Von Braun AND was the consultant with Stanley Kubrick on this movie, spoke. He talked about a lot of the real science they put into the flick, they had another NASA rocket scientist from down Huntsville way, and afterwards, he astronomy club set up telescopes in the parking lot to look at Jupiter. Pretty cool stuff. We couldn’t even stay for it all.

This past weekend we went to Particle Fever, which is a new documentary. It follows six scientists working on the Hadron Collider in Geneva, smashing particles together to learn new “stuff” about the universe. It’s interesting how they are divided, more or less, into the theorists, and the experimentalists; the camp that believes in Super Symmetry and the camp that leans towards the Multi-Verse. Through this experiment, they focus on finding the Higgs particle, but are left with data that is still puzzling, wondering whether it is a creator or destroyer. After the movie, a physicist from Vanderbilt who is one of the data crunchers from around the world, spoke.

I know nothing about physics, other than ancient high school texts and basic experiments I do with Jude. But, I guess I lean towards the multi-universe idea. If our universe operates on simplicity (as they say) and mathematics (of course), who’s to say there aren’t other dimensions where all bets are off? And, why can’t the Higgs be creator and destroyer? It’s the yin-yang of everything, no? Of course, the scientists in this film point out they may spend their lifetimes going down one road only to find out it’s not that at all.

Anyways, go see the film if you can – obviously it leads one to philosophizing and “artistic” musings, which is part of the point of the movie – showing the creative and imaginative part of being a physicist, the explorer and the artist.

If you’re here in Nashville, they have several other things on between now and the end of the year.

Happy Spring Break!

Doug (and Jude)

Published by Doug Hoekstra

Father, wordsmith, musician, creative.

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