Sunday, 18 February 2018

Wormwood

Here follow my thoughts on the latest Errol Morris creation, Wormwood.

Wormwood is a six-part series that Morris created for Netflix. If you have not watched it, you should. You should certainly watch it before you read what I have written; you should watch it in the most complete state of blissful ignorance that you can achieve.

“Goddammit!” you curse. “I clicked here because I have five minutes to waste reading a superficially amusing pseudo-intelligent article — not six hours to watch a documentary! I’ll watch the damn film later, but right now I want something to read!”

Fine: go and read the other stuff I wrote about Errol Morris. You will find my review of his Stephen Hawking documentary, “A Brief History of Time”, both entertaining and thoughtful. If you prefer scathing reviews, I recommend my review of the more recent (non-Morris) Hawking drama, “The Theory of Everything”, which was such a forgettable mediocrity that spoilers can hardly make it worse; its only redeeming feature is that it started me on my Errol Morris kick in the first place. You may be irritated that my article on Morris’s career is framed as a faux-profound insight into life choices, but I guarantee that the gems of his biography will make up for it. And finally, we get down to what I consider the most fascinating aspect of Errol Morris, his dogged devotion to Truth. I also wrote about that, and, Yes indeed, there were more profound insights.

For all those who have watched Wormwood, let us continue.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Election Day Event

Today the LIGO and Virgo collaborations made their sixth announcement of a confirmed gravitational-wave detection. Once again the signal was from two black holes colliding — this time the black holes were each close to 10 times the mass of the sun, with the smaller object possibly as low as 5 solar masses, making this likely the lowest-mass binary-black-hole yet observed.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Kaboom! Two kinds of astronomy collide, and produce a burst of science

Holy crap! The LIGO and Virgo collaborations just announced their most incredible observation so far. After the first direct detections of gravitational waves from black holes colliding, that’s really saying something! And not just that — a string of other astronomical collaborations are part of it, making it even more incredible. If you have just heard the news, you may be in a whirl trying to make sense of it all. Even if you have spent the last two months scooping up all those scurrilous rumours, this may still be just too much. Hell, I have known about it since the observations came in on August 17th, and I am having trouble getting my head around it.

Ok. I need to calm down. Let’s take a step back, to the afternoon of August 17th (UK time).