10 October 2013

Gravitational pull

Gravitational pull by bobmendo
Gravitational pull, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
I like my grandson. I think of him a lot these days. He's only two years old and lives in the US, but we see each other now and then. This day I was taking his photo he was playing with sand in a sandbox. And discovering so much about life and sand and gravity. I liked what I saw. I think he liked what he learned that day. Gravity works. And things fall to the ground.

Tonight I saw the new movie out this year named Gravity. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, who are the only actors to play visible roles in the film. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone who is a mission specialist on her first space shuttle mission, STS-157, accompanied by the commander of the shuttle, astronaut Matt Kowalski, played by Clooney. During a spacewalk to service the Hubble Telescope, Houston warns Stone and Kowalski that a satellite has been damaged causing all kinds of space matter to fly and that they must abort their mission.

The rest of the movie is the story of survival when the parts of that old satellite begin hitting the shuttle and then other outposts in space.

I liked the movie. I liked the cast. I liked the sense of wonder I experienced. The Variety writer Justin Chang posted that the film "restores a sense of wonder, terror and possibility to the bigscreen that should inspire awe among critics and audiences worldwide."

You can't however get away from the final scene which I will not give away. NO need for a spoiler alert. Suffice it to say, the title comes into play clearly, for the cast and for my grandson. Gravity works.

I am thinking of the idea of gravity tonight and about Stephen Hawking. According to Hawking, the laws of physics provide the real explanation as to how life on Earth came into being. The Big Bang, he argues, was the inevitable consequence of these laws 'because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.'

As John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University writes, "Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions."

Lennox goes on to say, "What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine"

Read Lennox's whole argument Lennox

So it's late at night and I saw a sci-fi movie but still can ponder things like wonder. I wonder if there were inaccuracies in the movie. I wonder if the scenes of earth were similar to what astronauts see when they are orbiting. I wonder what I would do if I had similar problems in space-- what would I do?

Listen the film has problems, not technical, but real. Or at least Bullock and Clooney have problems. Do you think you won't have problems? And what will you do with your real problems tomorrow or next week? I liked the movie's portrayal of problem solving, sometimes even hallucinogenic problem solving with unreal latch openings, but solving nonetheless.

I find the final scene's gratitude useful in my problem solving.  As if Bullock could affirm, "no matter what happens in my life, with my daughter, or with the blue-eyed man at the end of my tether, ... I'm grateful." And saying, "Thank you" is awesome.

Of course, knowing to whom to say it is even better. I recommend you say 'thanks' to God, and not to your lucky stars or to Gravity. You (and my grandson) can be thankful for gravity, but to say 'thank you', you have to have a person to welcome this gratitude.

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