Saturday, December 11, 2004

Forces of Nature (movie review)

This is an extremely well done, 70mm format film, aimed at science museums with high tech theaters, such as we're blessed with here in Portland in the form of OMSI's Omnimax.

The forces are: tectonics and vulcanism, leading to eruptions and earthquakes; and hurricanes. Humans fit into this as fiercely dedicated to understanding the dynamics, which are too big to control, but are nevertheless comprehensible. And comprehension means knowing what warning signs to take seriously.

Scientists in all ages well know the danger in crying "wolf" too many times -- entire disciplines turn to quakery and fakery overnight, when the promised disaster fails to occur, at great inconvenience to the populace (kinda like all that Y2K blarney). It's all about establishing a track record for credibility and reliability, and the scientists in this film are working very hard to show us how they think about these things, what their evidence is.

They're driven in large degree by curiosity, but also very much by compassion: they want you to get off the mountain before she blows, out of town before the storm or earthquake strikes. Seriously.

And when there's nothing to worry about, they'd like you to feel secure in that knowledge, because it's backed by strong science. Like, we're not phony-baloney soothsayers telling worried children in Pompei to just go to bed and stop whining about Vesuvius.

I don't now if this film is being screened in Istanbul, or whether the idea is to let Turkish tourists in Portland (not a big number) start a whispering campaign back home. The message at the end was: we're honestly concerned about you. Please take care.