Tag Archives: Physics World

Physics at the movies

The November 2019 Physics World is a special issue on “Physics at the movies – the science behind the scenes”.

Among the highlights: Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe talks to friend and physicist Jess Wade about what it’s like as an actor to work with visual effects (VFX), from 3D body mapping to green screens and tennis balls. And Benedict Cumberbatch, who once starred as Stephen Hawking, explains the challenges of portraying scientists in film.

My contribution was an interview with Douglas Trumbull, the legendary VFX pioneer who has worked on classic films including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner:


Fun fact: we are in Blade Runner month… A caption at the beginning of the 1982 film announces the story’s setting — LOS ANGELES / NOVEMBER, 2019.


 

Wish you were here? 7 chances to experience totality in the 2020s

My latest piece for Physics World is a travel guide to the seven total solar eclipses of the 2020s.

Physics World logo


Luxor, on the banks of the River Nile in Egypt, will enjoy 6 minutes 22 seconds of totality on 2 August 2027. (Image: Mahmoud Algazzar)

The top five films about science or scientists

To celebrate the Oscars weekend, Physics World asked me to come up with the top 5 films about science or scientists. They span 51 years and include two Stanley Kubricks, one Ridley Scott, one Steven Spielberg, and one film by the not-so-famous Shane Carruth.

My top 5, in order of the year of release, is as follows. My reasons for choosing them are here.


  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
    1964 | Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
    1968 | Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Jurassic Park
    1993 | Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Primer
    2004 | Director: Shane Carruth
  • The Martian
    2015 | Director: Ridley Scott

The Martian is also one of the great disco movies…

Japanese spacecraft set to attempt asteroid sample grab

At around 8am on Friday morning (Japan time), Hayabusa2 will attempt to grab a sample from the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. My latest piece for Physics World is an interview with mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa.

Citizen scientists spot meteorite strike during lunar eclipse

This week’s total lunar eclipse featured a dramatic bonus: shortly after the start of totality, a space rock hit the moon and vaporised in a flash of light. My latest piece for Physics World tells the story…

Can you spot the lunar flash…?
Here is a link to the moment of impact on our timeanddate.com broadcast. It’s on the left edge of the moon, just below the 10 o’clock position, at 04:41:43 UTC.

The complicated relationship between science and sci-fi

How important is the science in science fiction? I talked to three big thinkers – physicist and philosopher David Deutsch, film-maker Olga Osorio, and scientist turned novelist Gianfranco D’Anna – for a piece in Physics World.