Paging L.M.: GIF fodder here.

Particle Fever

It's about the Large Hadron Collider. It's a gigantic discovery machine, designed to help peel back the layers that veil the fundamental laws of nature. It's also destructive testing. They destroy protons back smacking them into each other at very high speed.

The movie isn't about the science. It's about the excitement of human discovery.

In fact, there are details that go by too quickly if you are trying to learn the science. At one point, a speaker in a group meeeting presented a diagram of quarks, baryons and leptons in a format I've never seen before. As I tried to quickly mentally capture it for later recall, it flashed off the screen. But the details of the science in that meeting are not the point of the movie. It's about the people in that meeting, and about the thousands of people striving together to expand human knowledge.

Central to the movie is understanding the personal roles and dynamics of a few individuals on the project. The machine is humanized by exposure to the men and women who made it, controlled it, designed experiments, came up with the theoretical physics which is tested via the machine.

The group struggle and the multitude of individual struggles that interact, conflict and combine to effect that group struggle make for a compelling story of discovery.

Two most excellent science shows available on the web, Cosmos and Your Inner Fish.

Cosmos takes on both science and the history of science, and covers a very broad scope. It's a reboot of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. An amazing amount of new science has been developed since that time. (And some cool stuff has already come out since the program was produced. Such is the march of science these days.) Cosmos is unafraid to directly confront established religion where it undermines the rational thought necessary for scientific progress. Sometimes the "woah, dude!" tone, which is also in the original Cosmos, bugs me. But, that's just a style issue. Dealing with the "billions and billions" it's hard not to get a little gushy at times.

It's on a commercial network, so there are commercials in the internet version. Protip: start it, let it run muted for a long time while you do something else, then pause. Now go back to the beginning and watch without the commercial breaks that were previously passed during your "preview." Don't let the preview go too long, or it will fall off the end of the program and start another video clip. Be warned the the episodes will start to expire soon, and won't be available on the web. It's available on a TV channel and a cable channel in addition to the internet.

Your Inner Fish is a shorter series (three episodes), and has a much more narrow focus. It's about the evolution of tretrapods (including the bipedal naked ape) from uppity fish. It has a much more matter of fact tone than Cosmos. It does dip into the 19th century with some frequency to illustrate the origin of some of the concepts of current biology. But the focus seems to be more on current biology rather than the history of biology. The host is a working paleontologist and anatomist who was a key member of the team that unearthed the Tiktaalik fossil in the Canadian Arctic. 

It's a PBS show. Episode one has aired already. It's on the web and your local member station. 

Warning for the squeamish: There is some footage of cadaver disection (that's what the host teaches as a day job), but it's respectfully done. It's done in pursuit of comparative anatomy to highlight the homologies between humans and other tetrapods. There's also illustration of some experimentation on the embryos of chickens, etc. to demonstrate the function of the sonic hedgehog gene on their forelimb buds. Yes, there's a gene called sonic hedgehog. (In elementary school, we tracked the development of chicken embryos with two dozen fertile eggs. I didn't eat eggs for a while after that. I eat chicken eggs all the time now, just not the fertile ones.)

Both shows are some of the best science television I've seen. Both are clearly designed with younger audiences in mind, but are certainly not dumbed down. The concepts are simplified to an introductory level, and much effort is taken to explain concepts visually in both productions. 


Your Inner Fish

Johnson co hams Inc

colbert tapped for late night replacement. seems like a wise move for all concerned and not just because i guessed at it years ago. i have no doubt he can handle the entertainment side of the job, i just hope he can bring some of the smarts with him. be a shame if he is completely deracinated from what made him great, not that he sees race. i wonder if jon oliver is rueing that hbo gig at the moment as that 1130 slot just opened after the daily show. probably not.

A couple weeks back I got into a conversation with a dude who worked the snack counter at a movie theater. He was mentioning that some Christians had given him a hard time for merely being associated with the un-Biblical retelling of Noah's story. He added that he thought is was an awesome movie -- massive fountains springing from the earth, stone giants, ... 

Wait. Hold on one moment there. Did I hear "stone giants"? I may have been on the fence about seeing the flick, but stone mother fucking giants? Dude!

Back on the topic of the Christian approbation, I threw in my two cents that while it may be inconsistent with the Bible, the Bible, in turn, is inconsistent with the Epic of Gilgamesh. So they're both do overs. And the Bible doesn't even get the shape of the boat right. It's round, like a modern life raft. If you don't have a source of power, why would you have a long, skinny boat that could be turned sideways and rolled over by the waves? Those Babylonians were no dummies.

Anyway, expressed in the language of comic book literature, both the Bible story of Noah's flood and the current movie are retcons. And I think this is what has gotten the literalist Christian's panties twisted. It's not just the fact that Hollywood took liberties with their story. Whether or not the biblical literalists are aware of the concept of retcons, I think they are aware of the danger of their book being just so much fodder for story telling, like The Sleeping Beauty or The Amazing Spiderman.

Some would argue that there is nothing new with using this technique in mythology. Many aspects of the Abrahamic religions can be described using analogies to super hero stories.

I don't eat many burgers, but if I lived in nyc , i would head here. Yumm!

Steve Rockwell and Katia Santibanez
Bruce Pearson

Don't like 'em as a child, try 'em as an adult

Inside Amy Schuuuuuuumer?
"It's getting clearer."

If you're looking for a movie with a lot of gatling guns, Cap'n America delivers.

No industrial beer. Plenty of organic alternatives available on your grocers shelves.

Linda sent that to me, crazy, go kid go

free books

just got my dish reinstalled after six months without and i cant tell if i just got ripped off or got a good deal from the repairdude. i guess thats the sign of a good con. it was only 20 bucks so its no big deal and if he wasnt lying he saved me 50 but i wouldnt be surprised if i still got billed for the damaged part they replaced (because it was mishandled unnecessarily by the contractors who worked on building),  that is if it was even replaced at all. im afraid to go look although im not sure i would even recognize if it was replaced. oh well, at least i can watch the game of thrones premiere tomorrow without issue.

LOVED this last nite

Duck, Duck, Goose

somehow i missed out on spy magazine in its heyday. (its not like i was reading the new yorker all that much either.) looks like google books has them all available to see what all the fuss was about.


Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010

April 19–August 3, 2014 MoMa

i get some weird free standard def movie channel over broadcast tv with the crappy digital hd antenna i bought a few months back. (im getting my satellite reconnected tomorrow after six months without. they made me an offer i couldnt refuse that being pay us exactly how much we want.) and though i just saw the last couple of minutes of this it certainly caught my attention. how have i never heard of the magic christian other than its probably not very good?