The Big Bang

There’s a new film out this weekend with a particle physics theme (no string theory), called The Big Bang, starring Antonio Banderas. I figured that it’s my duty to cover this kind of popular culture use of particle physics, so went to see the film last night. It took some effort to identify the one screen in New York where it was showing, and the theater contained about 10 people at the Saturday night 8:20 show. If it’s showing in your area (only New York and LA I think) and you want to see it on a big screen, better go very soon.

I was going to write a review, and mention as many as possible of the various physics inside jokes that appear, but this has been done better here, where the film is aptly described as belonging to the genre “nerd noir”, with a “particle physics fetish” sex scene. The film features an LHC-lookalike built underground in New Mexico, designed to search for the Higgs (God Particle). The sex scene mentioned in the review pairs Banderas with a woman with a bubble chamber event and uncertainty principle tatoos. In the throes of passion she discusses Heisenberg uncertainty, entanglement, and the Standard Model.

There’s more about the film here, and Lubos has his take here. Rex Reed really didn’t like it, and it’s hard to disagree, unless you’re a great fan of particle physics camp in movies.

Presumably this will be going more or less straight to DVD in a rather short time.

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13 Responses to The Big Bang

  1. Yatima says:

    I haven’t seen it nor do I plan to but this is a pretty good review, sounds like something straight out of Michael Weldon’s “Psychotronic Video Guide”.

    [Explanation for that obscure term is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychotronic_Video%5D

  2. Bernhard says:

    Hi Peter,

    Sorry norry really related to Antonio Banderas, but have a look at this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/may/15/stephen-hawking-interview-there-is-no-heaven

    It contains a heavy amount of hype, multiverse mania, boosted with the traditional misleading statemenets like:

    “Evidence in support of M-theory might also come from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva.

    One possibility predicted by M-theory is supersymmetry, an idea that says fundamental particles have heavy – and as yet undiscovered – twins, with curious names such as selectrons and squarks.”

  3. Bernhard says:

    sorry, *not really*

  4. Syksy Räsänen says:

    Maybe you should add a tag for “Pop culture”.

  5. milkshake says:

    No tarantino was observed in this experiment.

  6. Peter Woit says:

    Bernhard,

    Maybe it’s a sign of the times that you can get more accurate information about fundamental physics from a naked young waitress with impressive tattoos while she is having sex than from one of the most famous theoretical physicists of our era.

  7. Bernhard says:

    🙂

    And in the meantime the guy is trying to dig some deeper meaning between the lines:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/may/16/hawking-physics

    “To me, it feels as though he is referring to the idea that there are many possible universes and that we can use Darwinian ideas of natural selection to work out which might be most hospitable to life as we know it, and because they are habitable in some sense we value them more highly. That’s my best guess, but I have minimal confidence in it being right.”

  8. Low Math, Meekly Interacting says:

    Duty? Given the reviews, “cover(ing) this kind of popular culture use of particle physics” was apparently the aesthetic equivalent of taking a bullet for us.

  9. Orre says:

    Actors, actresses and directors do not age gracefully. They just decay.

    I remember the pain of seen giants like De Niro and Hoffmann in “Meet the Fokkers”, and great Al Pacino and Coppola making fools of themselves in “The Godfather III”.

    I guess a minor talent like Banderas must be in bad need of cash to co-star a movie with the SM… He’s definitely on the way out.

  10. Giotis says:

    Ok Hawking makes various controversial statements to attract attention most probably but you have to wonder why the elite of physicists thinks that String-M/theory is the most promising framework of unification and of Quantum Gravity? Hawking has no obligation or personal interest to support M-theory, he didn’t work on the field and has no significant contributions to it; on the contrary judging by his research history you would expect to support other ideas closer to the canonical quantization of GR.

  11. Peter Woit says:

    Giotis,

    There are plenty of the “elite of physicists” who don’t think string/M-theory is the most promising path to unification, and even those who say this often only mean that no one has a good idea, with string theory just the least bad.

    I certainly do wonder why Hawking and other very smart physicists have signed on to M-theory multiverse mania. Then again, some smart people do and say stupid things. I’m encouraged that the waitress with the tattoos at least seemed to have the sense to ignore this stuff…

  12. bjm says:

    @Orre
    Re: “…Banderas must be in bad need of cash to co-star a movie with the SM…”

    Trying to milk a commercial success (your first two examples) is a lot different than taking a chance with an original, independent production. Maybe the film didn’t work, but there’s no way to know without trying. Thank goodness for those who try.

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