The Matters of Science

The Heroes of Research Can Entertain Us—as Well as Inspire Us

Anyone who reads this magazine is likely interested in science, whether or not they subscribe to conventional ideas on the subject. They can all take pleasure in the following films that remind us just what excites us about the heroic search for truth and inspires our greatest accomplishments.

 

The Mystery of Matter:
Search for the Elements

PBS

This is an exciting PBS series about one of the great adventures in the history of science: the long (and continuing) quest to understand what the world is made of—to identify, understand, and organize the basic building blocks of matter. Episodes introduce viewers to some of history’s most extraordinary scientists: Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier, whose discovery of oxygen—and their radical interpretation of it—led to the modern science of chemistry; Humphry Davy, who made electricity a powerful new tool in the search for elements; Dmitri Mendeleev, whose Periodic Table brought order to the growing gaggle of elements; Marie Curie, whose groundbreaking research on radioactivity cracked open a window into the atom; Harry Moseley, whose discovery of atomic number redefined the Periodic Table; and Glenn Seaborg, whose discovery of plutonium opened up a whole new realm of elements, still being explored today.

This exquisite documentary (it truly is) shows us, not only what these scientific explorers discovered, but also, how, using Broadway-caliber actors, to reveal the creative process through the scientists’ own words and to convey their landmark discoveries through reenactments shot with working replicas of their original lab equipment. Knitting these strands together into a coherent, entertaining whole is host Michael Emerson, a two-time Emmy Award-winning actor.

Responding to the kid in us that was asking WHY all the time, this documentary, in a fashion that shows how exciting science can be, lays out the important developments in chemistry and related physics: the discovery of oxygen; the use of battery-powered electricity; the development of the periodic table; the discovery of radioactivity; and the formulation of an atomic basis for chemistry.

This is one DVD where it’s worth checking out the Bonus Videos. Here you’ll find more on Joseph Priestley, for one: He is described as a man of boundless curiosity. Raised outside England’s state religion, and far from London in the northern county of Yorkshire, he grew up unfettered by social conventions, free to pursue his eclectic interests, as he worked as a teacher and minister. He was fascinated by the emerging science of electricity that Ben Franklin had famously pioneered. He became very interested in the remarkable series of advances in this new science of electricity that had happened over his lifetime. It occurred to him that someone should tell that story, someone should write a book that would be written as a narrative of progress, not just a scientific treatise, but would actually be something with a story arc that began with our ignorance about these things and tell the story of discovery and innovation and our expanding understanding of the world, all on this topic of electricity.

As it happened, Benjamin Franklin was living in London at the time, and every two weeks, he would meet at a coffee house with a group of friends to discuss science, politics, and the issues of the day. Priestley was invited to join this group, and it was one of those encounters that really changed the world. So, when he meets Ben Franklin, he mentions this book that he wants to write and asks for his support, saying that it’s for two reasons: 1) it’s a really good idea; and 2) you’re the hero of it. Franklin liked the idea, so he and his friends gave Priestley all of their letters and correspondence, which was crucial because, in those days, a lot of important scientific work and research was captured in the private correspondence of these amateur scientists who were writing to each other. They weren’t publishing in scientific publications; they were just sending each other letters on their experiments.

Franklin also encouraged Priestley to do his own experiments. These experiments marked the beginning of Priestley’s career as a scientist in his own right. Priestley ultimately wrote the book, The History and Present State of Electricity, with Original Experiments, and it was a big hit. It was the principle, academic textbook on electricity for more than a hundred years. It was one of the first times that someone told the story of scientific advance in that way—something that we now take for granted. Priestley specifically wanted to convey that to a lay audience; he actually invented the whole tradition of popular science writing. He wanted to tell a story that would both inform the general public about this amazing scientific advance and encourage them to become scientists themselves.

We learned the facts of most of these scientific discoveries in school, but this is the story of those who obtained those facts, and the challenges in so doing, their stubborn determination. This production deserves all the praise mentioned herein!

DVD – 180 Min. • $24.95 • 1-800-228-838

 

 

Inside Einstein’s Mind:
The 100th Anniversary of “The Perfect Theory”

PBS

On November 15, 1915, Einstein published his greatest work: General Relativity. The theory transformed our understanding of nature’s laws and the entire history of the cosmos, reaching back to the origin of time itself. Now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s achievement, NOVA tells the inside story of Einstein’s masterpiece. The story begins with the intuitive thought experiments that set Einstein off on his quest and traces the revolution in cosmology that is still playing out in today’s labs and observatories. Discover the simple but powerful ideas at the heart of relativity, illuminating the theory—and Einstein’s brilliance—as never before. From the first spark of an idea to the discovery of the expanding universe, the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, NOVA uncovers the inspired insights and brilliant breakthroughs of “the perfect theory,” perhaps the greatest science story of all time.

“What we feel as gravity, is, in fact, the push and pull of space and time, itself,” begins the narrator, as he introduces Einstein’s idea of General Relativity. “It is perhaps the most remarkable feat of thinking about nature to come from a single mind.” As he continues describing General Relativity as undoubtedly one of the greatest scientific theories ever conceived, comments are interspersed by other scientists: Clifford Johnson (University of Southern California)—“It’s a theory of space, time, and gravity.” And, here, we’re shown the equation, a single, elegant equation, which is explained quite well in this documentary. Janna Levin (Columbia University) adds: ”One mathematical sentence, and from it, you can derive the understanding of the entire universe on the largest scales, and that is beautiful!”

It’s further pointed out that only now, a century after it was first proposed, do we have the technology to explore the extremes of Einstein’s great theory: super-massive black holes at the center of galaxies; waves of gravity that distort space and time; the evolution of our entire universe.

Much is discussed of Einstein’s magical talent: He could take a hard, physical problem and boil it down to a powerful, visual image—his thought experiments.

“To gain an insight into Einstein’s mind and the true wonder of General Relativity, we need to trace the crucial thought experiments that led to his great breakthrough,” states the narrator.

The seeds for his ideas were planted when he was just a child. His biographer, Walter Isaacson, tells us that, as many great innovators, Einstein was a rebel, a loner, but deeply curious, a daydreamer, but deeply persistent. He was slow in learning to speak, so slow that his parents consulted a doctor. He later said, though, that that might be why he thought in visual thought experiments.

Einstein’s father nurtured his son’s interest in science, and on one occasion, he gave his son a compass. Isaacson pointed out that the average child might remember getting a compass as a child, and while briefly fascinated by the twitching needle, quickly went on to other distractions. But for Einstein, after getting that compass, he developed a lifelong devotion to understanding how things can be forced to move even though nothing is touching them. We’re told that the young Einstein became gripped by a desire to understand the underlying laws of nature. He developed a unique way of thinking about the physical world, inspired by his favorite book, which told little stories—like what would it be like to travel through space or go through an electrical wire? And it made Einstein think visually.

Then, when a teenager, one of the critical thought experiments that Einstein began to play with, was trying to imagine what would happen if he could actually catch up with a light wave; what would he see? He said it caused him to walk around in such anxiety that his palms would sweat. This thought about the nature of light was his first step on the path to his great theory; and it stayed with him throughout his years in school and college.

As most of us have heard, as a young person, Einstein was a bad student, mostly because he kept cutting class and being very rude to his teachers. Many teachers were convinced he’d never amount to anything. He was a discipline problem, and he was bad news. When he originally applied to the second best university in Zurich, Zurich Polytech, he was rejected. He did eventually get accepted, but did only moderately well, not well enough for a teaching fellowship; so he ended up at the Bern, Swiss Patent Office, as a third-class examiner. Here, his job was to assess the originality of new devices. He was immersed in the kinds of technical details that he’d been fascinated by as a very young child, and there he was, sitting in the wave of the modern age. This was the era of electrification, so all the latest, clever ideas for switching technology, for coordinating clocks, in particular, those were all passing through his office. He could whip through those patent applications, and then, out of his drawer, he’d pull his physics notes. His boss was very indulgent and would turn a blind eye. So, from here, we know “the rest of the story.”

For 100 years, General Relativity has been proven to be correct time and time again, but Einstein himself knew that his great theory had limits. It remains incompatible with the quantum world of tiny atomic particles.

At the Institute for Advanced study, where Einstein worked, the world’s leading theoretical physicists were trying to solve the problem Einstein never could—finding a single set of rules that applied to both the cosmic and atomic scales, a unified theory, the ‘Holy Grail’ of physics.

Robbert Dukgraaf (Institute for Advanced Study) contributes: We are now in what, at this time, is the School of Physics. Here, people are still struggling with many of the same issues that Einstein struggled with, trying to capture the laws of the universe from the very small to the very large in a single equation. And it’s still blackboards that are the weapons of choice. The brightest minds of the world are coming here to work, 24 hours, 7 days a week, struggling to grasp the great mysteries of the universe. And I think we are still driven by the same dream—that, at some point, we can capture everything in elegant mathematics.

It is truly amazing that a concept, which explains so much, came from the mind of one man. So, yes, he deserves a 100th-anniversary, celebratory DVD! And, as usual for PBS documentaries, the graphics are excellent. (Don’t miss Charles Shahar’s article, Einstein and the Search for an ‘Ether,’ on page 28 of this issue of Atlantis Rising.)

DVD – 60 Min. • $19.95 • 1-800-228-8381

 

 

Best of the Watchers

  1. A. Marzulli

This “best-of” DVD is based on the documentary, Watchers, filmed in ten segments from 2010 to 2016, created by Richard Shaw and L. A. Marzulli.

Producer, director, editor, and writer, Richard Shaw, has worked on television broadcast productions, feature films, and documentaries—creating a project from start to finish being his norm. He states that his goal is to create provocative, out-of -the-box experiences for digital film and video productions, with a message of truth. “I’d prefer to spend my time trying to understand how to help by showing ‘the deeds of God to the world,’ which is a phrase that came up in a Torah Code table about us.” Marzulli and Shaw took their second trip to Peru in January of 2014, filming ancient artifacts and megalithic structures at various locations; and they also filmed the unwrapping of a 2,000-year-old mummy skull at Sr. Juan Navarro’s Paracas History Museum, which was revealed in Watchers 8.

  1. A. Marzulli is a filmmaker, lecturer, and author. He has penned 12 books, including The Nephilim Trilogy, which made the CBA best-sellers list. His series, On the Trail of the Nephilim I & II, are full-color, oversized books, which uncover startling evidence that there has been a massive cover-up of what he believes are the remains of the Nephilim, the giants mentioned in the Bible. Watchers 7: UFO Physical Evidence won UFO Best Film and the Peoples Choice Awards at the UFO Congress in 2014. He has launched a new series, The Watchman Chronicles, and his first independent film was released in March of 2017, In Their Own Words: UFOs are Real! He says this is a hard-hitting expose on the burgeoning UFO phenomena and that this series is geared toward the skeptic as a wake-up call to what he calls: The Coming Great Deception. Marzulli then toured Portugal for two weeks, which resulted in his latest film: Fatima: Miracle of the Sun or Harbinger of Deception? Marzulli is a frank supernaturalist who has lectured on the subjects of UFOs, the Nephilim, and ancient prophetic texts, presenting his exhaustive research at conferences and churches as well as appearances and interviews on numerous national and international radio and television programs. Integrating biblical predictions, historical observations, and scientific facts, Marzulli explores the carefully detailed and documented history of ancient prophetic writings and the ongoing supernaturalism that so many others are afraid to touch, blending these seemingly unexplained phenomena with increases in paranormal activity and “signs in the heavens,” which he believes points to a coming great deception and the Luciferian end game.

Some of the topics featured in this special edition include: Alien Implants; Shroud of Turin; Torah Codes; Cuzco Monuments; Nephilim/Giants; Robert Salas’ Abduction; Black-Eyed Children; and Near-Death Experiences.

This DVD is hyped as: “revealing new paranormal events that may leave you stunned.” Well, possibly, if one is new to this paranormal research; but, much has been covered on these topics over the past several years, including many DVDs reviewed here in Atlantis Rising, while others have been listed in our catalog, though not reviewed. However, those didn’t have the religious bent of attempting to connect their findings with prophetic events, which is found in this series.

DVD – 143 Min. • $34.95 • 1-800-228-8381

By Marsha Oaks