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Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Allegory

This is a great short that was found by my family a while ago.  If you want to be methaphysical, it describes the research careers (or projects) that don’t fly. The moral is that they should be enjoyed while they last, well, that’s one take on it. The movie scripting is phenomenal and it really makes you think about what’s important.

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There are fun videos of physics in the net. I occasionally look for them for my class, but my results tend to be random. A reasonably good list can be found on a website that specializes on Online education here.

Their list includes one of my favorite demos, which I performed in class this year as well: The Ruben’s tube. It is very cool to do and to watch as well. After I worked it the students clapped. Of course, there was also the time I played the guitar to show harmonics, and the time that a superconductor had issues with going to zero resistance after cooling during class.

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Movies of the week

Yesterday was an official holiday at UCSB. I went to see the new Cohen brothers movie: A serious man.

It is about a physics professor in the late 60’s who is facing tenure and is besieged by all kinds of things that make life not worth living. It is a very dark comedy, in a sense about the meaning of life (or the lack of it). For some strange reason I felt at home in the movie (never mind the fact that I belong to the category of people who can spot errors in the uncertainty formulas as they’re being written on the blackboard, or maybe I didn’t spot it because afterwards it was ok). I recommend that if you are physicist that you go see the movie. You might also feel at home there.

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Laser movie

Clifford produced a really cool movie on the Laser effect, explained so that pretty much anybody can understand it. No calculations required.

To learn more about this, go here.

Here, at the shores, we update you on news way after they break out. When they have become oldies. In cyberspace, this is after a couple of  days.

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A public service announcement

Clifford has asked me to advertise a set of new NSF films. They haven’t been released yet. There is a trailer at his blog, narrated by Clifford himself, with a creepy scream of terror at the end. My guess is that someone was not expecting a mouse to visit them and steal the cheese. Go visit his site to figure out better what this is all about.

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Movie updates

I saw various movies in the past few days. I’ll give you the two line opinion on each of them, in the order I saw it.

Up- it was a lot of fun. There’s a lot in here that kids won’t get, but adults will certainly relish. The beginning sequence is extremely powerful.

Harry Potter- Pretty good overall (if you’re into the series you know what to expect). Some of the special effects with ink and fire are very cool.

Public Enemies- What a lousy script (the screenwriter should’ve been fired). It’s not even saved by the acting abilities of Johny Depp. If it wasn’t for my wife explaining the history along the way (courtesy of a history channel special), I wouldn’t have known what was going on. Not worth spending money on it, or time for that matter.

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Monsters vs. Cliches

I went to see Monsters versus Aliens tonight. It was in 3D and it was great fun in a childish sort of way, where there are no consequences nor after effects to seeing the movie. Now I’m rapidly typing, trying to see if I can beat Clifford to a movie review.

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Stereography: It’s in 3D

I went to see Coraline this weekend. It is an animated movie made with stop motion animation (and it is supplemented by usual CGI effects). I like the medium of stop-motion very much, particularly because it is harder to achieve a good result. The most interesting thing about the movie is that it was filmed in 3D, which gives it a much more eerie feeling. The storyline was ok and there were various aspects that were very predictable. There are some elements of it that reminded me of my childhood: I used to be especially afraid of dogs and I met a lot of kids that didn’t fit in well. I also ended up eating more beets than I liked when I was growing up. Now I really love them, so I can understand a few obsessions that are portrayed in the movie. I think the thing I liked the most was that they did not use the 3D to do that usual ‘trick’ of having objects point towards the audience over and over again. There was a  bit of that at the very beginning, but it soon faded away. (For an example of bad – or you could also say tasteless- uses of 3d, see this blog review of Beowulf)

Now, back to the 3D. Just to tell you a  little bit about the technology involved (feel free to go to wikipedia for more info). The basic idea is that we have stereographic vision: we have two eyes, which is really good for measuring distances by angles of triangles. So ideally, each eye sees a slightly different image and our brain reconstructs a 3D map from two 2D-images.

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Next time, bring two books.

Flying in long flights is the way I usually catch up with movies I have not seen. I’m many times too tired to work, and not tired enough to sleep. If all goes well I get to see one reasonable movie and I’m happy. I usually also bring something to read and that is the best way to spend a long flight. However, as I was traveling back from China, I had ran out of books and couldn’t get anything remotely interesting at the airport (most of the books I could find I was not able to read), so instead I got to see three bad movies. 

It’s not the first time that  I have seen bad movies. However, there are some really irritating aspects of movies that seem to modify some essential part of Newtonian dynamics to get their work going. This is fine sometimes and usually I don’t care, seriously, I really don’t. But this time it was just too preposterous and not just in one movie. Loud explosions in the vacuum of space is one, but not that bad. The telltale sign that it is too preposterous is that I start groaning loudly when the physics is really wrong. If you are next to me on the airplane you might hear me muttering under my breath. This makes me very glad to the SEEx initiative, although I’m really not going to keep my hopes up that the entertainment industry will get the physics right.

Ok, so what were the bad movies and why did I groan?

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