I swear i'll be writing more in 2014

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Serious Movie Man

I'm so serious about the movie A Serious Man that I'm actually trying to gain a better understanding of quantum mechanics.  I'm certain I've never written anything remotely close to this subject in my entire life.  In fact, my whole history with science isn't too good. 

Going back to Middle School, I nearly failed my science project.  I ended up passing with the help of Mrs. Domowitz, but testing the sugar in soft drinks was hardly something interesting.  I had my booth at the science fair just like everyone else, but had less frequent visitors than the "smaht" kids.  Things didn't get much better in high school.  Though many of the simple dissections were fine along my scientific path, the big one, the fetal pig dissection went horribly wrong, mostly because my partner went Orenthal on the thing … mostly.  I believe we ended up with a D+.  Biology was one of two subjects in my life I came close to receiving a "D" in.  Naturally, most kids went on to Chemistry from there, whereas I resorted to "Environmental Science" with the rest of the Gumps.  After Chemistry, the really smart ones went on to Physics.  Obviously, I never took that step. 

Now mathematics on the other hand I've been pretty good at.  I wasn't getting invites to the Top Gun camp of mathematics by Evan Drake or anything, but I held my own.  I often joke that my high school was harder than my college (which is probably true so not really a joke), but in my last year of high school, the majority of us took Pre-Calculus.  I knew I'd have to take at least one class in mathematics to satisfy an elective in college, so I figured I should take Calculus and signed up for it first semester freshman year, despite the fact that Thee University of Tampa only required Basic Algebra, which I had basically completed my freshman year of high school. 

Calculus is the second class I almost received less than a "C" in.  In fact, I nearly and probably should've failed.  During my first semester of freshman year, everyone I had met (read: People that lived on my floor in the dorm) all had lunch at 11, which was the time of my Cal class.  At noon, there was nobody to eat with, so I basically ended up cutting class more than I should have.  This isn't smart in math classes.  Before the final, knowing I was close to failing, I decided I'd have to teach myself Calculus with the help of the large text book. 

The results were mixed, because on the final, I only got 1 out of 5 answers correct, which is kind of the point in math classes.  If 2+2 doesn't equal 4, you're wrong, it's quite simple.  However, I did show gained knowledge as I showed the work on all 5 problems correctly, and my numbers were only off due to the fact that I made some careless mistakes.  Not sure why, but this was good enough for the teacher to give me a "C" for the semester. 

This back story in science and math was necessary though to get into the discussion of Schrodinger's Cat, and the film A Serious Man.  I loved the movie even before I had a clue what Schrodinger's Cat was.  I was like the Asian kid in the film saying, "I understand the physics, I understand the dead cat" without fully grasping the full theory.  After watching it, I started reading some reviews and saw it was based on this theory, with the perfect foreshadowing for the protagonist being that he's teaching the theory in class as his world collapses on him. 

Now, if you take the Cat theory in its simplest form, you can find many parallels in the film from the beginning such as the dybbuk (whom we really don't know if he's dead or alive because we never see him die) to the very end with the tornado sequence which though it looks like pending doom, may not be if they can get that door open and hide.  I found many examples throughout the film as well, but then again, I'm merely taking the "dead cat" part of the theory.  Schrodinger's Cat tries to debunk the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (yes, I am reading wikipedia as I type this) by stating the cat is alive AND dead, whereas Shrodinger, like the Physics professor explaining to the Korean student, it has to be one or the other, it can't be both.  These paradoxes are what make the movie.  

My point is, I loved this film so much that I tried to learn a physics theory to get a better appreciation of the movie.  That's what good films do.  Though I don't have a full grasp on the dead cat, the smallest amount of understanding gave me much more insight to this film, rather than it just being a stereotypical story of a Jewish guy worried about his money.  

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