Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bonne Anniversaire, Georges Remi!

In line with Backreaction's long tradition of commemorating the birthdays of famous dead scientists, today cannot pass by without mentioning Georges Remi, who was born exactly 100 years ago today, on May 22, 1907. You may wonder, who is Georges Remi, never heard of him...

Well, actually, he is not so much a scientist as a great artist. Take his initials in the inverse order, pronounce them in French, and you get Hergé - the famous Belgian creator of the wonderful universe of Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock.

As a kid, I loved the adventures of Tintin, and I still know by heart many details of the stories. And there is, sometimes, real physics involved: Think about what happens if you switch off the engine of the rocket that carries you to the moon (Explorers on the Moon, published in French as On a marché sur la Lune in 1952-53):

Your spaceship will be in free fall, you will be floating around weightlessly, and your whisky may leave the glass and form a perfect amber-coloured sphere. That's exactly what happens to the fearless explorers half-way to the moon:

(Explorers on the Moon, p. 6)

So, lets have a toast with Captain Haddock:
Bonne Anniversaire, Georges Remi, Tonnerre de Brest!

Professor Cuthbert CalculusCaptain HaddockNestorTintinBianca CastafioreSnowyThomson and Thomson
Source: The Adventures of Tintin

You will find lots of links about Tintin at www.tintinologist.org
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  1. Thank you, Stefan, for reminding me of Tintin!

  2. Ah Stefan, mon cher moussaillon! Merci beaucoup for paying the now famous backreactive tribute to one truly great man. Tintin still is my favourite adventurer, and I remember the good days when I could get lost in the plot of an exotic escapade of the young man. I join you to thank him, and wish him a très bon anniversaire.
    Mille milliards de mille sabords!
    Oh man, I just read that Tribikram Pati's contradiction of the Riemann Hypothesis has been checked by Bernhard Krötz to be correct (via ars mathematica)! And I thought I would have a quiet morning... lol

  3. Ah, Tintin... I'm doing a study abroad in New Zealand right now, and one of the front page news stories last week was that Peter Jackson is teaming up with Steven Spielberg to make a Tintin movie. They've chosen four of the comics to base it off of, and plan to use an animation base rather than real actors for it. We'll see how it goes...

  4. Take his initials in the inverse order, pronounce them in French, and you get Hergé - the famous Belgian creator of the wonderful universe of Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock.

    I learnt something new today. Thanks for yet another informative post, Stefan.

  5. Ah I love Kuifje. (His dutch name.) His novels are always really amusing, funny and exciting! Always full of details, such as the banners in the Red Dragon (I think?) are actual anti-chinese slogans.

    Also remember Quick et Flupke! And Jo et Zette! Great novels. Still read them alot. Proud to have the same nationality.

  6. Okay, it's Blue Lotus, but it's a red cover with a chinese dragon on it! :D

  7. Dear all,

    nice to see that there are more big fans of Tintin/Tim/Kuifje around :-)

    Hi Yvette,

    that's interesting news! A quick Google search produces really many hits... the ones I followed cite an article in Variety as primary source...

    So, it will be a computer-animated movie - that's good news, in my opinion. I remember a movie with real actors, some long time back, called "La toison d'or", and that was, eh, not really convincing...

    On the other hand, there has been a series of very close adaptions of nearly all the books using raditional animation techniques, "The Adventures of Tintin", which I found very good, and setting a high standard. So, I will be curious what will happen...

    By the way, at tintinologist.org they have a long thread devoted to the Spielberg/Jackson project...

    Hi Francis,

    yeah, it's really funny that so many famous comic strips originate from Belgium - do you have any idea how comes? Anyhow, I know of no other comic strip museum comparable to the one in Brussels...

    Quick et Flupke, for some reason, did not make it outside Belgium/Netherlands - I know them only from my Dutch cousin. It was sometimes quite frustrating when he had a Kuifje album I didn't know yet, but I could not read because it was in Dutch ;-)...

    Best, stefan

  8. BTW, the dialogues are barely readable in this short scene from the flight to the moon. They're funny, as always... Thomson has, by accident, switched off the rocket engine with his cane. Haddock is, together with Snowy, in another part of the rocket, hoping for the first sip of whisky from the bottle he has smuggled aboard...

    Haddock: Blistering Barnacles, what's the matter? Something's happened: Snowy doesn't usually walk upside down like that.

    Professor Calculus (to Thomson): Look what you have done, you idiot! You've stopped the nuclear motor. The constant acceleration of our rocket created a sort of artificial gravity here inside... This allowed us to move about in the cabin as we do on the ground... When the motor stops, we no longer feel the effects of gravity... That's why we're floating like this.

    Engineer Frank Wolff: Please, Professor, not a physics lecture now! ... We must start the motor again!

    Tintin: Wait, I'll try toget to the controls ...

  9. Oh yeah,

    Tintin never gets old or out of age!
    Thanks Stefan for a happy reminder of Boyhod passtime :-)

    TinTin had a real rocket all the way to the moon and back,,, The Americans landed and took off in a vehicle which looked more like a knoll of throw-away alufoil from a student's lunchbox! not stylish, and far from rocket-like.

    I always thought, that the detail of Apollo which I admire most is the maneuering the last 1000m before touch down, and the first minute after take off from the lunar surface.

    To avoid this "thing" tipping over and spinning out of control without the help of aerodynamics is to me the greatest triumph, the single greatest memory of Apollo.

    By the way,, Herge was right abt the size of the rocket, judging from the comic it is ,roughly, as huge as the Saturn V.



  10. Stefan,

    Yeah, I've got Quick et Flupke here. Also some Gaston Lagaffe, always classic. I don't know why we have loads of comic books, but I know we have a huge library at our school with comic books. (Our library is pretty good, I think we have an original vesalius.)

    Also, does anyone know how long their trip to the moon took? Hergé must have calculated it with a acceleration of 9.81 m/s². Hmm, I might look it up later :D.


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