A Physic(al) Journey

I love a good adventure, and lately I’ve been on a journey of exploration into the fascinating world of physics. I didn’t get to do physics at school, probably being deemed not bright enough to be let pack my bags, to set off on that trip with some of the students who set off on that adventure; in fact, I was once told by a rather sour-faced and lightly mustachioed member of the penguin tribe we know as “The Nuns” that I was a mathematical illiterate, so that’s probably why I stayed behind to watch sunbeams slant, and dream of traveling on the dust motes that spun in lazy patterns, as I dropped out, and tuned in, to different dimensions, traveling happily on my own secret adventures of the mind, for years.

In recent years, though, I’ve tuned in again to read about the wonderful world of physics. You don’t need to be able to do maths, you see, to appreciate the beauty of physics. All you really need is a sense of awe, and a curious mind (which I’ve often been told I have, ahem) to really dig physics, and start getting dug in. Bring your spade, ‘cos you’re invited, and we’ll dig down into the dirt of matter, but make it a fun exploration, perfect for dreamers, hopefully not getting stuck in the holes. How about some music while we learn? We can have our adventures go our own way, and there won’t even be an exam at the end. Sounds fun? Off we go, then, singing merrily along the way.

What’s that you say? Not quite what you were expecting? Good. Physics is full of delightful surprises, for something that proceeds in such a logical way. The little video I made, was a classic (Newtonian) timeline visual of ideas I’d been reading about in the always easy to understand Brian Gribbin’s book “Deep Simplicity”, but, wouldn’t you know, the journey took many twists and turns along the way, as I explored some of the ideas further, enjoying the side-streets and alleys of a new town I visited.

There were so many really great explainer videos on YouTube, that helped bring the ideas home effectively, and were stunning visually as well. Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach” is a favourite musical piece of mine, and I couldn’t resist gathering up some of the best videos I found, during my reading explorations of the topic of how complex systems emerge from chaos, and how chaos is, in fact, intrinsic to order. I thought, why not, then, organise the nicest bits into a kind of visual diary of my reading, and have a bit of dreamer-style fun with it. It’s OK to dream, while studying physics, I discovered. I reckon it helps you learn, as you need to be able to imagine concepts, and play around with them, in your mind, to really get the WOW factor. I took plenty of time to dream, and still haven’t come to the last chapter of the journey, because I keep putting down the book, looking out the window, as I did in my school days, and saying “WOW”. Whatta trip.

Wanna see some of the videos I used for my mashup video? These talented creators put most of the effort in, in their wonderfully explanatory and visually beautiful videos, after all. First up, let’s have a look at the main video I used for the background, and overlaid other videos on, to create the mashup vid in OpenShot (free) video software. This was a brilliant video by Stephanie Yeoh, for the music track “Knee Play 5”. I know, it was a bit cheeky of me to even think of covering up parts of this perfect video, with other graphic elements overlaid, but the nuns always said I was a cheeky little rip, as well as mathematically illiterate, so…

Next up, let’s get outta the bus, and wade right in to the river, and hoist our sails, ‘cos there are so many more lovely places to see along the way, in our journey into physics. Here are some of the other videos I enjoyed, and made use of, in my imaginative journey, with my little guide book in hand.

What? Hotel’s full, even with infinite rooms? How can that be? Never mind, let’s skip the chaos and camp out for the night. Don’t get the matches wet, ‘cos we’ll need them to get a fire going, and get the party started, under the stars.

Erm, not sure we’re going in the right direction, and not terribly certain about how we got here, but I’m sure we’ll end up somewhere, with a fixed point to refer to (pulls out compass and taps it, playing for thinking time).

(Wakes at sunrise, under a semi-chaotic collapsing tent). Wow, my back hurts. I’m in bits, but I’m sure I’ll be OK for the homeward leg of the journey. Probably. Should be pleasant to finish my adventure in an armchair, with the rest of my book. Hope you had fun as well. Parting is such sweet sorrow, and all that. I see you’re in bits too. He he. Many of the best adventures are like that. Bye bye. May the road rise with you. It does, a bit, apparently (waves at tiny dot on the horizon).

Other videos used:

Crab Canon on Mobius Strip: https://youtu.be/xUHQ2ybTejU

Ant on Mobius Strip: https://youtu.be/kMgwaeLHUTU

Starlings, Murmuration: https://youtu.be/uV54oa0SyMc

Pendulum Waves: https://youtu.be/o3Q7JYBkOHU

Chaos Pendulum: https://youtu.be/QXf95_EKS6E

Freehand Circle: https://youtu.be/oDcr0yXpkk8

Ten Dimensions in Two Minutes: https://youtu.be/hf2CxZPl7KI

N-body Orbits: https://youtu.be/_3uQqrrBcrQ

Fractal Curves, Growing the Snowflake Sweep: https://youtu.be/vZ9Oi4LV_5w

nicogetz’ “Vibrations on Singing Strings”: https://youtu.be/ttgLyWFINJI

(Other clips include Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing, and an animation from a CGI movie, which I don’t know the name of, and this “Niagara” software tutorial, for particle animations https://youtu.be/31GXFW-MgQk?t=87)

ps. Had a lovely trip. Glad you were here.

Saturday at the Movies – Classic Reruns

You know I love the classics, particularly cult movies. I’m very keen on the 70’s too, you’ll know, and some old favourites never really die. Unlike pulp fiction, you don’t have to do much, to take an exciting trip. Let’s get away from YouTube’s Fake Fight Club, cheap budget casts and recycled scripts for a while, and watch something better, then. ‘Cos I know my readers have class and style, unlike the trolls I have to put up with, whose cheap dramas, and sordid smear campaigns I occasionally respond to, in passing, with retorts like these, when they beg to have their scripts considered, giving it the full treatment. I try not to laugh, or yawn, but turn it into fun. This guy does it so much better than I could, keeping it short, and sweet, like a Haiku, rather than making a whole production of it. I liked him so much, I hired him to do the dirty work.

Once in a while, ‘tho, I’ll dash a quick response myself, on the back of a StickyNote, if they beg (I know; I’m all heart).

Look, I tell them. I just don’t have the budget for that kind of thing (although shooting in black n’ white isn’t cheap these days), and I don’t wish to be associated with your cheap productions! But still, they insist, after squeezing themselves in the office window, you simply must be in this movie, so I send the doorman to escort them out again, so I won’t be bothered. It would make a terrific series, they tell him, and all we need from you is your cooperation, in being amenable to whatever we want to put in the script. They keep sending little plot hints, slipping them under the door at night, to try get me hooked on their cheap scripts, and lame plotlines, and insist that everyone’s just dying to be in it, all the biggest trolls on the seedy end of YouTube. Look, they insist, here’s the showreel preview, fresh off the producer’s studio. But that’s borrowed, and stale, and smells of socks; not even your own work, I think, then figure, don’t respond. Just keep the doorman out there. He’s good with the stare, and withering comments. I’ll stay comfy, and work my way through better content, I can go out for air later, while they spin their wheels in tiny circles in the parking lot.

Mind you, the ideas they pass off as their own stories might have some merit, insofar as having a basic grasp of the elements of drama that we get hooked on, no matter how poorly they execute them, and not having much in the way of real action. That’s the problem with low budgets, and poor scripts. We like our hearts racing, when the cars come chasin’, and a car chase plot device is far more entertaining than a gang of trolls chasing you down with pathetic plotlines, like their “Fake Fight Club Part 2”, where they try to smear you in mud, and pull you into a wresting pit, to wrestle with, well, pigs.

Part 1 never made it out of the gates, but they keep trying, and are, very. These classic 70’s movies aren’t a trial to watch at all, though. I don’t even drive, but they are fantastic front seat passenger seat gripping fun. Not that many bothered wearing seat belts in the 70s. Wrecked the ol’ image, didn’t it, when you were a beat up banger pretending to be a Jag? Oh, I did like that green Jag. Not Emerald, like meself; more a racing green. And those clean lines. Nearly as good as the script, and cleaner content than YouTube’s cess pits. You get what the budget allows, sometimes, and these are glossy, fully waxed vintage classics. Plus, you have a choice of models to choose from, for your adventure (rolls up the garage gates, with the click of a button).

Now, fancy heading for a Vanishing Point, like a troll’s karma at the end of a spent LARP? Only in a far more sophisticated fantasy production? OK then (waves while glancing in rear view mirror, and zooms ahead, with cheeky grin, adjusting sunglasses, before leaning an elbow out the window for that one-arm tan, plus leather gloved brown circle, that is the envy of pedestrians, with plain ol’ two arm tans.

Bye trolls. Eat my dust. Watch Vanishing Point here (and close pop up ad windows as usual)

(adjusts car radio, for incoming news) What? You’re not a simple script action seeking troll, like the ones that never made it big time? More cerebral type. Ah. I see. We have a second choice for you, that’s still action packed, but great script, and plot heavy, too, with Gene Hackman in the lead, and more heavy guns than the trolls could ever dream of, with their limited mental resources, to entertain you with. Enjoy.

Watch “The French Connection” here. Same deal, with the ad trolls. Close the window, then you can ignore them.

The Saturday Matinee ~ “The Lost Horizon” (1937)

Frank Capra’s “The Lost Horizon” is a great adventure movie, but the idea that captured Western imaginations in many surprising and mysterious ways, was a book first. Before that, it was a quest for a secret place, lost in the mists of time. The significance of the book and movie was as far reaching as the idea of the mystic region of Shangi-la (Shambala) that made for some legendary myths around it, for centuries to come. I usually show trailers for my movie favourites I share, but I liked this documentary so much, I thought this would provide a context for telling you about the impact that this idea of the place on the hill, somewhere, would have, in all sorts of other times and places. So, let’s travel back in time, before we see where the quest leads us, before we settle back in the moment, to enjoy the movie.

Ready to rest after your mental exertions? Grand, so. Snuggle in cosily for an armchair adventure, and a flight of fantasy Holywood style, which sees the myth and spiritual legend turned into a romantic adventure, by the wonderful Frank Capra, in glorious black n’ white (perfect for all that snow, which is often blue and purple, but we add the colour in our own imaginations anyhow, so who needs the technicolour treatment?). It’s great fun, beautifully shot, and really magical. We are so lucky to be able to glimpse this lost horizon, because there was also quite a quest to be able to recover the footage, which disappeared in the mists for a while.

“The Lost Horizon” movie link. https://m4uhd.tv/watch-movie-lost-horizon-1937-227466.html