Friday, 20 February 2009

How Gravity Works

In our new short film Technology, I have trouble explaining the phenomena of lightclocks and gravity. After the screening at NRLA last week, after much more successfully explaining lightclocks (I think), I also claimed to "know how gravity works".

An email from Pete Harrison, an artist working on The Lightswitch Project, pointed out to me that this is quite a claim. He's right of course - *how* gravity actually works is disputed, or rather, not known, and there are several theories about it. What I meant to say was that I have done my homework since we shot the film and now think I understand the Newtonian Theory of Gravity (the gravity between two objects is directly proportional to their combined mass and inversely proportional to the distance that separates them). Very different to knowing "how" it "works".

Pete goes on to say that:

A disputed phenonema such as this, in which science has agreed to stop looking into what it is, and to focus instead on what it does, is called a black box.
From Wikipedia: In physics a black box is a system whose internal structure is unknown, or need not be considered for a particular purpose. Sometimes black box is used as a synonym for black body.

He also points out that there is a certain poetry to this for those of us working in performance, (as we refer to certain theatre spaces as black boxes).

Even though it was the point of the film, the making of Technology has amazed me at how much I don't know.

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