Pop Culture Notes

I’ve just finished marking this year’s Cosmology exams — I’m quite pleased with the outcome. But that’s meant that I’ve rewarded myself with some happily lowbrow (meant as a descriptive, not normative, term) entertainment:

  • I finally got around to the finale of Lost. Watching it, I was disappointed with the purgatorial explanation for this season’s “flash-sideways”; I would have preferred a less faux-spiritual device. But on reflection, considered purely as a fictional device for letting the creators illuminate their characters — seeing them act, react and interact in new situations — it worked (and, yes, jerked the odd tear on the way).
  • I bought an iPad. This will undoubtedly engender both jealousy and derision, so no one will be happy. It is a pretty, erm, magical piece of hardware. Somewhere between a toy and an appliance for now, but not yet a work necessity, like my laptop, nor a real-life one, as I admit my iPhone has become. But I could see it encroaching on the role of both of those, especially as I become less wary of taking it out — and as it becomes more powerful.
  • Although I missed some of the episodes along the way, I’ve been enjoying the BBC’s Luther. The melodrama was a bit much, but Idris Elba was fun to watch in the Columbo/Holmes/McNulty title roll, and Ruth Wilson was embarrassingly compelling as his gorgeous and psychopathic astrophysicist (!) nemesis-cum-sidecick. But even more exciting were the weird pop culture references that kept cropping up. There was Johnny Rotten’s “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”, and Faulkner’s “the past isn’t dead; it’s not even past” within a few minutes of each other in episode two. And last week we found London’s DCIs calling New York City Detective Munch (Richard Belzer’s character from Homicide, various versions of Law and Order, and a few other series along the way). What have I missed?
  • And of course there’s Hitch’s acknowledgement that galaxy formation may be a harder problem than the existence of god (about which I am considerably more than 95% against) or the invasion of Iraq (on which I am somewhat more equivocal, I admit).


2 responses to “Pop Culture Notes”

  1. David Brown avatar
    David Brown

    In reference to Faulkner’s comment that the past isn’t dead, it’s not even past — this might be literally true if Fredkin’s finite nature hypothesis is true. If the mass gap problem in Yangs-Mills theory possesses no affirmative solution, then is physics the result of a weird proto-physics without time, space, or energy? If the maximum physical wavelength is the Planck length times the Fredkin-Wolfram constant, and if infinite, continuous M-theory is replaced by finite, digital M-theory, then the space roar’s unexpected electromagnetic noise from the early universe might prove that Fredkin time and Fredkin distance are valid below the Planck scale. Is explanation of space roar the first great empirical success of M-theory? If the answer to the preceding question is yes, then there might be a Fredkin-Wolfram automaton spread across multitudes of alternate universes, yielding recurrent physical time with endless repetitions of all possible physical events.

  2. Ted Bunn avatar

    How can you say no one will be happy? There are few pleasures greater than derision.