Friday, June 13, 2008

The Matter of Everything


    The Matter Of Everything is a feature documentary that challenges us to see beyond our everyday sense of experience into the unseen universe. From the quantum to the cosmos, The Matter Of Everything journeys deep out of the foundations of nature to reveal what we are, at billionths of the human scale. At that level, physicists at Fermilab, one of the largest particle research facilities in the world, describe a universe that is more unified than ever imagined."



  1. I can't honestly remember ever seeing a really good TV show or movie about physics. Even ones I thought looked promising have turned out to be disappointing. I suspect they're aimed at people who would never read even a popular science book.

    Jim Al Khalili did Atom for the BBC (the entire first episode is in six pieces on YouTube) which was probably the best I've seen (least dumbed-down) but it was still disappointing.

  2. I watched Cosmos (by Carl Sagan) as a kid and was very much impressed.

  3. Hi Bee,

    A neat little flick and yet the most important and prophetic aspect was in the brief flash of a quote that read:

    “It is suicide for a society that depends on science and technology to know nothing about science and technology.”

    -Carl Sagan

    What is interesting to consider is that this was meant by Sagan as a warning and yet may serve only to be our epitaph.



  4. Hi Phil,

    Funny your are mentioning this quote, it also caught my eye. The question is though whether a society does have a survival instinct. Best,


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  6. Hi Bee,

    “Funny your are mentioning this quote, it also caught my eye.”

    That of course is the central reason I return here on a regular basis, since both you and Stefan with this blog not only extend Sagan’s warning yet provide to those who read it a chance to act upon it.

    “The question is though whether a society does have a survival instinct.”

    I think like all creatures we have plenty of instinct in this regard, yet when it comes to science and technology, which extends nature it is only reason born of intellect that will help in this case. Our species is often boastful that it does have enough, whether we survive or not will act as proof.



    P.S. Sorry perhaps this a little too deep and a downer for a Friday night yet its is of course the 13th. None the less I would still proclaim T.G.I.F.

  7. Hi Bee,

    Just as a little fanciful follow up; in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos he imagined an Encyclopaedia Galactica where all planets with sentient beings would be categorized with ours listed as follows:

    “Civilization Type:1.0J.
    Society Code: 4G4, "Humanity".
    Star: G2V, r=9.844 kpc, 8=00o05'24".
    Planet: third, a= 1.5 X 1013 cm. M=6X10^27g,R=6.4 X 10^3 cm, p=8.8 X 10^4 s, P=3.2 X 10^7
    Extraplanetary colonies: none.
    Planet age: 1.45x1017sec.
    Receipt first galactic nested code: application pending.
    Biology:C,N,O,H2O,PO4 Deoxyribonucleic acid. No genetic prosthesis. Mobile heterotrophs, symbionts with photosynthetic autotrophs. Surface dwellers,
    monospecific, polychromatic Oxygen breathers.Fe-chelated tetrapyroles in circulatory fluid. Sexual mammals. m= 7 X 10^4 g, t=2 X 10^9 s
    Genomes: 4 X 10^9
    Technology: exponentiating/ fossil fuels/ nuclear weapons/ organized warfare/ environmental pollution.
    Culture: about 200 nation states, about 6 global powers; cultural and technological homogeniety underway.
    Prepatum/postpartum: 0.21 [18].
    Individual/communal: 0.31 [17].
    Artistic/technological: 0.14 [11].
    Probability of survival (per 100 yr): 40%.”

    With this he gives us a 40% chance for the short term which many would consider optimist. However, his reason for this he explained in the close of his book when he states the following:

    “For we are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins; starstuff pondering the stars; organizing assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we sprang.”

    You spoke of a civilization’s instinct to survive; perhaps this then could be the description of what you hope that might be.



  8. Alas, poor Enrico! “Quite chap-fall’n? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come.”

    BTW recently it was passion discussion at CV (“Charming”) about how disgusting R.P.Feynman was even at last days of his life:
    “The charming side of Richard helped people forgive him for his uncharming characteristics. For example, in many ways Richard was a sexist. Whenever it came time for his daily bowl of soup he would look around for the nearest "girl" and ask if she would fetch it to him. It did not matter if she was the cook, an engineer, or the president of the company. I once asked a female engineer who had just been a victim of this if it bothered her. "Yes, it really annoys me," she said. "On the other hand, he is the only one who ever explained quantum mechanics to me as if I could understand it."

    Now compare with the Fermilab “Feynman” (pardon, Yorick University):

    Regards, Dany.

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  10. Hi Dany,

    Well what kind of explanation would you expect after a jug of beer? :-) Quantum mechanics in a pub, I would advise the attention span of the general public is short enough without introducing anything else to further handicap it. In contrast Feynman was well known for not teaching physics when in a bar yet rather trying to convince the cocktail waitresses he was a mobster. None the less in a more formal setting I would agree that Feynman would be able to get the message across far better then our friend in the Utube; not necessarily solely due to his own knowledge of the subject, yet rather a better understanding of his audience, for Feynman loved to be the showman.

    Another reminder of this I experienced when attending a PI lecture a short time ago given by Prof. Wiiliam D. Phillips about the ongoing efforts and significance of lowering our threshold in realized temperature. I wouldn’t attempt to explain things here but would have you watch for its release to their online library. Prof. Phillips has taken the Feynman method to a whole new level. The sad thing to realize, that if it be only people of this rare mix of aptitude and talent are able to do this, then I’m afraid there will be many who will remain in the dark.



  11. Hi Phil,

    See Bee new post “Information Overload”. I have nothing to add.

    What I am not able to understand is why in free democratic society the above YouTube girl agrees to play stupid Barbie and why some group of people at Fermilab considers that they will gain something treating their audience as hopeless degenerates.

    Regards, Dany.

  12. Hi Dany,

    "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Enrico, not to praise him"

    So I guess I can mark you down as one who doesn’t rate this documentary very highly although I suspect other then the trailers you haven’t seen much else. In being a scientist I don’t have to remind you that one should only draw your conclusions based on the most complete information and observations available. Therefore, I intend to go out and watch the whole thing before I comment with the conviction and certainty you express.




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