The latest It’s Okay To Be Smart video is a stunner. It’s fun to take 8 minutes to sit and think about the enormity of the Universe and what else might be out there. Also, the video ends with my very favorite piece of writing by Ray Bradbury, If Only We Had Taller Been, read by the author himself.
The other day, when I saw Joe tweet about this video, I was getting into my car to drive home. I kept thinking about it on the drive, wondering what he might have to teach us about exoplanets and ourselves, and I just couldn’t wait to watch it. So I pulled into my driveway and pushed play on my phone. By the end of it, I had goosebumps. It was my first It’s Okay To Be Smart ”driveway moment" and I’m sure it won’t be my last. This stuff just gets better and better and better. Bravo, Joe.
I wrote about chameleons at New Scientist, and per usual, I learned so much about them that I am now completely fascinated and sort of obsessed with these creatures.
I mean, first of all, they are aliens. Check out their crazy hands, which look like they’re inside mittens! Look at their super bright colors! Watch them get all weird and flat! And look how frightening they are when they attack!
But the really cool thing I learned is that they don’t just use their colors to blend in. They evolved super bright colors that they use to impress the ladies or scare off competitors, and a new study — which pitted chameleons against each other in a round-robin tournament of battles — found that the brighter their side stripes are and the faster they change their head color, the more likely they are to win a fight. If there were some crazy underground chameleon fighting ring (which, for the record, I do not support), I’d make a fortune because I’d know who to bet on.
I learned to use a reel-to-reel projector today. Working with this thing made me really appreciate how easy it is to click and play an online video or even watch a DVD or VHS. It used to take some real patience and the willingness to get a little grease on your fingers to see a movie.
It’s still fun, though. We found a bunch of old film reels at the Lab, and I can’t wait to sift through them to see what we’ve got.
Yesterday at the new Light Source, I checked out this crazy piece of equipment that was just installed at the end of an x-ray beamline. The scientists tell me it’s a diffractometer, but I can’t be sure it’s not a Star Gate.
This isn’t quite the whole thing, yet. All those holes are places for instruments to be mounted, and those different instruments will measure how x-rays bounce off a sample material, held in the middle where that large circular knob is. Super cool.
Officially, I hate the snow. But I’ll tell you a secret: every time it starts floating down, my heart does this.
Of all the Holmeses and all the Watsons, George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward will always be my favorites. The movie They Might Be Giants is at the top of my favorites list, and it has been from the very first time I saw it.
It’s about Justin Playfair, a millionaire widower who ‘became’ Holmes after his wife died. His brother is trying to get him committed to a mental institution so he can take over his estate, and that is where we’re introduced to the psychoanalyst, Dr. Mildred Watson.
They set off on a quirky quest to find Professor Moriarty, and the story is full of heart and wit and, when you get down to it, truth. The title of the movie — which is where the band of the same name comes from — is from one of Playfair/Holmes’ lines when Watson says he’s like Don Quixote, always thinking things are something they’re not:
"He had a point. Of course, he carried it a bit too far, that’s all. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That’s insane. But, thinking that they might be?Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But what if it isn’t? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, well, we’d all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.”
I saw some silly Tumblr post somewhere about how a woman shouldn’t play Watson (in reference to Lucy Liu on Elementary) and it made me want to watch this movie again. So I headed to Netflix this afternoon and was relieved to see it available to stream. Except, the version they have has a crucial scene removed. There’s a silly, frantic scene toward the end in a grocery store. I didn’t know this before today, but the original release didn’t have that scene in it. Critics tend not to like it or think it necessary, but if you’ve seen it, maybe you’re like me and you think it’s a key moment. First, it’s the most outrageous moment in a movie full of seriousness. It has always made me laugh, and I really like it. But more importantly, there’s a line in the scene that means so much to the character of Holmes and to the story.
Ultimately the movie is about loneliness and how we cope with it and how we find one another even in this mixed up world, and I won’t give it away, but Holmes smiles and looks around at the crowd and says to Watson, “They came.” It’s a line full of meaning sublimely delivered by George C. Scott.
Anyway, I recommend watching the movie, though if you do, I’d suggest you find *ahem* another way of watching other than Netflix so you get the version with the grocery store fiasco.
PS: The score in this movie is a complete delight. Another reason to watch. Just go already. Go watch it. What else are you doing that’s so important?