Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Blur: Far Out

A recent dig through some files from an old computer turned up my copy of Parklife by Blur, and straight back into the iTunes library it went. The album contains the song Far Out, which to my mind is a masterpiece of prose, those magical moons and stars, set to that other-worldly music. It is a tour-de-force of the imagination and in my humble opinion contributes as much to the human attempt to grasp the myseries of the Universe as the app and video I spoke of in previous posts (but in totally different ways, and variety is the spice of life). Nice job by the person who lined up all the pictures with the music!

In homage to Blur here are the lyrics.

I spy in the night sky don't I
Phoebe Io Elara Leda Callisto
Sinope Janus Dione Portia
So many moons!
Quiet in the sky at night
Hot in the Milky Way
Outside in
Vega Capella Hadar Rigel Barnard's Star
Antares Aldebaran Altair Wolf 359 Betelgeuse

I was very impressed that Wikipedia had a page on every single one of the moons and stars, I think that warrants me to go and make a donation!

On futher investigation, i.e. typing "Blur Far Out" into youtube, I found out there is another version of Far Out. Some of you may be impressed, others may be disappointed that I didn't know about it already. I have to say I prefer the Parklife version. Less is more for me, but here it is anyway:

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

"The galaxies like dust": 1977

Hello again blog lovers.

My previous post, A tour of the universe, waxed lyrical about The Scale of the Universe 2, an online interactive tour of the length scales of the universe which had originally been passed on to me by friend and design professional Ashley Youett. When I told him of the post I had made on my blog, he came back in a few days with a brilliant example of how science was already cool in the 1970s (and also perhaps saying something about the nature of original thought).

Powers of Ten is a video from 1977 depicting the very same concept as The Scale of the Universe 2, that is, a journey through the dizzying length scales over which our Universe is structured. The video, complete with eerie futuristic synth soundtrack, starts with a couple picnicking on a lakeside in Chicago, before zooming out to the dusty reaches of galactic clusters, and sweeping back down to the quantum world of subatomic particles.

Our understanding of the Universe has changed since 1977, but in a subtle rather than a wholesale way. A big shout out to PLUTO for example (2:50), with its "odd orbit", which is no longer classed as a planet. Things are also notiecably less certain than today when the scene rests on a single proton; when this video was made the idea of Quarks was little more than a decade old.

The video captures something of the sci-fi wonderment at science that I sense was present in the 1960s and 1970s. This really must have been a very optimistic time. Perhaps science is too much of a fact these days, or maybe we are just all too caught up in technology.

"A line extends at the true speed of light; in one second it half crosses the tilted orbit of the moon"