Monday, February 28, 2011

When aliens contacted Jodie Foster

Ever since my laptop crashed, I have been watching movies in Netflix regularly on my phone . I for one want to get involved in my movie. And since that sense of involvement one gets while watching on a phone is quite less I watch one movie over a period of days. 

The previous two days I watched the movie Contact, a 1997 film starring Jodie Foster based on a book written by Carl Sagan, an astronomer. This movie deals with conflict between technological advances and religious faith when scientists working on SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) receive radio signals broadcasted from Vega, fifth brightest star we can see from Earth. Embedded in the radio signals are engineering plans to build a complex device beyond human capability that can transport a single person from Earth to Vega using a wormhole mechanism, a hypothetical mathematical explanation that allows matter to travel in space-time instantaneously. Dr. Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster, who heads the SETI team takes the responsibility to travel in that device and to interpret humanity's first contact with alien intelligence.

Jodie Foster from the film Contact. In the background is VLA Radio Telescope in New Mexico, an array of 27 independent radio telescopes whose combined power can be used to pick up radio signals from stars. Radio signals are least effected by Earth's atmosphere and hence these telescopes can be installed on Earth without worrying about the loss of signals.
Having read the Space and Astronomy sections in "The New Book of Popular Science - Vol I" very recently, my fascination for these telescopes (my haiku on Hubble Space Telescope) and outer space has no bounds. I was pleasantly surprised with the 3 minute graphics of outer space in the beginning of the movie. I was thrilled to see VLA radio telescope in Mexico live in action in the movie. And using the first video signal ever transmitted into air, Hitler's speech at Berlin Olympics in the 1930s, as the message from aliens, rather Vegans, is smart. Since the star Vega is about 25 light years away from Earth, any electromagnetic signal would take nearly 50 years to go reach that star and come back to Earth. 

I wish I were into astronomy, except for that unexplainable phobia I used to have  as a kid towards celestial bodies. May be I should visit some observatory or space related museum to make sure if I still have that phobia! Do we have a name for this kind of phobia?


  1. It is astro phobia :)
    Btw, I am always intrigued by the space and aliens.. I am sure we will find the answers soon

  2. Srikanth -
    Yeah Astrophobia! Aniruddh gave a heads up on the name of the phobia on Facebook. About finding answers, until we do so it's a good subject for Hollywood to let the imagination go wild and make all kinds of fictional movies.


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