Angels & Demons: The Science Revealed

Back when I was at the now defunct Alliance for Lifelong Learning (an e-learning venture put together by Stanford, Oxford and Yale), we did a religion course that keyed off of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. No one thought highly of the book, but the dean of the Yale Divinity School believed that the book’s popularity (and the questions it raised about religion) created a good teaching opportunity. And he was right. Fast forward several years, and we now have Dan Brown’s other book, Angels & Demons, getting released as a major film too. So, why not use this as an occasion to talk about the science invoked by the film? UC Berkeley has done just that. (Watch here). And so has Carnegie Mellon. CM prefaces the video featured above as follows: 

Could you really destroy the Vatican using a small amount of antimatter made in the Large Hadron Collider? Thats the question Carnegie Mellons Manfred Paulini seeks to answer in the lecture Angels and Demons: The Science Revealed. Dr. Paulini, an experimental particle physicist and member of the CMS experiment at CERNs Large Hadron Collider, discusses the science facts and fiction in the movie Angels and Demons, based on Dan Browns best-selling novel.

Dr. Paulini talks about the physics at the heart of Angels and Demons, which focuses on what happens when matter and antimatter meet. The absence of practically any antimatter in the universe is crucial to our existence, and understanding that absence is one of the big challenges of particle physics.

Stephen Colbert Reads Joyce’s Ulysses

Every June 16 is Bloomsday, which commemorates James Joyce’s Ulysses (get free audio of the text here). In Dublin and around the world, celebrations usually include a reading of Joyce’s classic. Last year, in New York City, one high-profile event featured Stephen Colbert reading the part of Leopold Bloom, the character around which the sprawling novel turns. You can listen to Colbert read here and here. Enjoy.

Live-Tweeting The Revolution

Andrew Sullivan has been embarrassing America’s traditional mass media. With his one man blog, he has provided richer and more immediate insight into what’s happening on the ground in Iran than even The New York Times. (I ask, somewhat facetiously, would we really miss the beleaguered newspaper industry if it went away? Not this week, we wouldn’t.) Now Sullivan has pulled together an impressive list of tweets coming straight from the front lines. A short 140 characters can say more than you’d think, and, reading them, it seems fairly clear that the injuries, even fatalities, in Tehran may be higher than the MSM has reported so far. Right now, we’re clearly seeing two new forms of communication — blogging and Twitter — hitting their stride.

Sedaris Reads “Solution to Saturday’s Puzzle”

Not long ago, we featured David Sedaris reading “Of Mice and Men,” a comic bit from his newish book, When You are Engulfed in Flames. Now, we give you another funny (also live) reading from the same book. The story is called “Solution to Saturday’s Puzzle,” and you can get it as an mp3 here.

Related Content:

David Sedaris Delivers a Pizza (an Impersonation)

Watch “Home” Today

On Friday, we brought you Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s multimedia presentation at the TED conference. Now we bring you his new film, Home, which you can watch until the end of the day on YouTube. The complete film in English is above. When you’re done, you won’t look at our planet in the same way. (You can also find online versions in French, German and Spanish.)

Blogging the Iranian Election & Aftermath

Check out Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish. He’s doing a great job of watching things unfold in Tehran. More good blogging coming from the NYTimes Lede blog. Meanwhile CNN has dropped the ball big time, and is taking a beating on Twitter. Check out the new website,

Our Earth Captured in Wide Angle

Here we have Yann Arthus-Bertrand talking at the TED Conference and displaying his recent photographic and cinematographic work that focuses on humanity and our habitat. The work is as visually stunning as the story it tells is disheartening. Definitely worth giving this one some time. We’ll be following up later today with some more media from Arthus-Bertrand. Stay tuned for more.

Art on the iPhone

This caught my attention today:

“The National Gallery is the first ever gallery to make its paintings accessible through a downloadable iPhone application, making it possible to take a mini tour of the Gallery anywhere in the world.

The Gallery, in partnership with Antenna Audio and Apple Inc., has designed a new application for iPhones and iTouch devices that enables people to explore a sample of the collection while they’re on the move. Designed to appeal to art enthusiasts and fans of the Gallery, this application is the first of its kind to be released by a major gallery.

This Pentimento application, called Love Art (get the free app here), features 250 paintings from the collection along with around 200 minutes of audio and video content, including interviews with National Gallery Director Dr Nicholas Penny, dramatist Robin Brooks, artist Maggie Hambling and Girl with a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier.

Making use of special iPhone features such as its large touch-screen, zoom, Rolodex and scrollable menus, Love Art offers a playful exploration of the collection, together with informative commentaries. The paintings are showcased to the best advantage using high-resolution images on the iPhone’s excellent-quality screen. Due to a tactile interface the experience gained through this application is not only highly enjoyable, but also lets you zoom in to see details that are often missed”

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.