Pioneers at the edge(s) of the world

Autumn has just started needling us shamelessly with cold rain, battering with this-is-not-a-breeze-look-for-a-shelter, but in other respects this October has been developing surprisingly well.

Slowly but stubbornly my dearest series Pioneers go global. Yeah, it’s a quiet percolation rather than a brute invasion, and it won’t win anyone an Oscar, but that’s not the point of the series. The point is to make people think how thrilling the process of deepening our understanding of the world might be – and what fascinating people, outstanding thinkers often neglected by the ratings oriented media, are engaged in this adventure.

Centre for the Meeting of Cultures in Lublin is launching a series of meetings titled PIONEERS – talks about the boundaries of imagination: “We invite you to the Screening Room of the Centre for the Meeting of Cultures in Lublin to film projections and accompanying discussions with journalists from the POLITYKA weekly as well as artists and scientists. As part of the project, you will also be spectators of an experiment combining art and science”. Come over, if you’re around!

Six episodes of the series will be presented there. The grand opening, organized in cooperation with the Avant project, will be crowned with Daniel C. Dennett’s presence (the philosopher will also meet our readers in Warsaw, a day before). Virginia and Greg Chaitin, Julian Barbour, Charles H. Bennett, Freeman Dyson, and Artur Ekert – they all are going to be in Lublin too. Slightly disembodied – but who cares about bodies in this digital age. They’re so overhyped.

Pioneers take New York City as well. The series (exemplified by the Freeman Dyson’s episode) has just been featured in the NYC based SciArt Magazine, a bimonthly which motto I couldn’t agree more with: “Art and science have long shared a common ground; the ground of boundless inquiry about the nature of our existence”.

Julia Buntaine, founder, editor-in-chief, and a science-based artist herself, says: “While science-based art has a growing presence, the movement at large remains scattered. I want to fix this.” Thank you, Julia!

Don’t forget to check out the magazine. You can read free some of the articles. And if you happen to be in New York City, look for SciArt Center events. It’s a must.

A screening of Julian Barbour’s episode (followed by a discussion about nature of time) has become an element of the second edition of the Abstract Thought Festival, a fresh and refreshing Warsaw festival which name speaks for itself.

And finally – Russia. Yes, Pioneers will explore the vastness of this paradoxical country again. Firstly – FANK Science Film Festival in Moscow and Tobolsk (two episodes will be screened alongside such fascinating doc experiments as Lake Vostok. At the Mountains of Madness by Ekaterina Eremenko). And secondly – Eurekafest in Novosibirsk.

Ah, one more thing – all episodes of the series are now available in the US and in Canada (and elsewhere too) via online system of the Alexander Street publishing house, the leading American provider of media for learning and research. Pioneers are in a good company (to mention the Criterion Collection films, also distributed by the Alexander Street). Visit your university or local library, Pioneers might be already there.

Remind me not to complain for some time, not this October.

Shape Dynamics of the Cotswold Hills

Julian Barbour, one and only independent physicist, cosmologist, and Shakespeare connoisseur based in Oxfordshire, whom you might know as the protagonist of Bottom’s Dream, the third installment of the Pioneers series, continues his work on Shape Dynamics theory – “a new theory of gravity that is based on fewer and more fundamental first principles than General Relativity”. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

You can learn more about this potentially revolutionary framework by reading those two papers: Shape Dynamics. An Introduction and A Shape Dynamics Tutorial.

We spent three hot summer days in South Newington, documenting the progress, and filming short “ads” that we’ll present soon – inviting you, and friends of yours, to join Julian and his collaborators in their unique research.

The College Farm, the old farmer’s house Julian has been based in for half a century, is – hopefully – going to become an informal and independent research institution, a workshop center for cosmologists and quantum physicists puzzled by the paradoxes of contemporary Big Bang theories.

Here’s a hint how to proceed – below.

Stay tuned! And just in case you didn’t know about Bottom’s Dream – have a look at its trailer.

Summer of love, summer of protests

Summer in the city, summer of protesting. Since Poland is struggling with a crawling coup d’etat, we “relax” on the streets – trying to save as much of democracy as we can. We usually fail…

When days of acid rains are over

The Central Sudetes, one of the most forgotten, the least hip(ster) mountains in Poland – and perhaps the most beautiful ones. Compact, quiet, surprising on every turn of countless hidden, winding tracks, heavy with unsolved mysteries. It’s a region with the most convoluted history, a perfect example of Central Europe’s cultural complexity.

Despite being washed with acid rains for many decades of the former system they recover surprisingly well – and if you want to spot a pair of common linnets or Eurasian bullfinches while walking to your grocery store – come here.

And here’s Sokołowsko – a city where Krzysztof Kieślowski, the author of Three Colors trilogy, grew up. City once famous for its health resorts – now sleepy and semi ruined.

Postcards from the quantum edge

Before I write more (soon), let me express gratitude for visiting the website by sending those sound postcards taken in a mysterious city on the Equator.

I grew up listening to small format analogue records called pocztówki dźwiękowe – singles or extended play records with images imprinted in them – here’s my tribute to this ingenious (and slightly forgotten) invention.

Those tiny bits of footage, taken from my b-roll Singaporean archives, were used to promote an experiment we run this May with Jacek Mazurkiewicz during the one and only Copernicus Festival in Cracow.

We screened Artur Ekert: A Model Kit (the latest installment of the Pioneers series) with dialogue and ambient sounds tracks only – with Jacek creating unearthly music with his double bass and electronic machinery – live! Just like in the old days of silent cinema.

Since our little experiment went way better than we expected, we’ll be thinking of doing it again.

And, perhaps,  even more than once.

This last one, above, we shot with Artur Ekert in Bali. The footage has been never used – awaits its moment.

Pleasures of staring at birds in the post-truth world

My introduction to the world of birdwatching (many thanks to Jędrzej Winiecki, a real pro). Damn cold and windy March morning, but the whole experience – thoroughly addictive!

Myriads of European golden plovers, thousands of Taiga bean geese, some cackling geese, some ruffs, a dozen of black-tailed godwits, one white-tailed eagle, plus twenty or thirty other species. Most of them migratory, in transit to their summer habitats. 

Simple pleasures of staring at birds (Look, there they are!) in the world of post-truths.

Time to buy a pair of wellingtons.

Sound and science hooligans on board

Here it is. Trailer of the latest, seventh installment of the Pioneers series. Artur Ekert DIY. 

Let me quote the synopsis: In 1992 Artur Ekert (b. 1961), a young maverick mathematician and physicist, invented a unique kind of quantum cryptography. Being a recipe for the perfect cipher, it also questioned some common truths about the nature of free will and randomness. Despite being intensively researched the idea remains remarkably challenging and elusive – as does its inventor. This rare movie presents Artur Ekert in his ad hoc habitat, in Singapore.

I hope you’ll enjoy the trailer (and a bonus, below) – the movie premiere soon.

Images – well you’ve seen some of them. Artur, you might know him as well, from our other projects (The Mechanics, Reality Lost, etc.). He’s a famously elusive master of quantum Zen.

The novel element, the killer element indeed, is the original music composed and performed by Jacek Mazurkiewicz, contrabassist, composer, and sound hooligan – the rising star of European jazz and improvisational scene. Just listen to this excerpt.

Jacek and Artur, honor and pleasure to have you both on board in this project. Thanks a million, guys!

PS Yes, we filmed at Rochor Centre, one of those haunting places in Singapore that are silently giving way to so called modernity.

Unfamiliarization of the city of Warsaw

Making familiar unfamiliar. Unfamiliarization. The first step in research of a given culture, they say. It happens so naturally, instinctively easily when we travel, usually providing us with an illusion of understanding. And it is so difficult to achieve when we try to defamiliarize the place we are used to. Here are some attempts of making Warsaw alien again.   

This is a personal website of Karol Jalochowski, a science journalist, reporter, and documentary film maker of POLITYKA weekly (supported by CQT/NUS).