Slight surprise with a dash of interest

There are, I think, several reasons Hollywood movies often don’t get as much science input as they should. The first is that movie-makers usually just aren’t sensitive to the “science texture” of their movies. They can tell if things are out of whack at a human level, but they typically can’t tell if something is scientifically off. Sometimes they’ll get as far as calling a local university for help, but too often they’re sent to a hyper-specialized academic who’ll not-very-usefully tell them their whole story is wrong. Of course, to be fair, science content usually doesn’t make or break movies. But I think having good science content—like, say, good set design—can help elevate a good movie to greatness.

~ Stephen Wolfram from, https://writings.stephenwolfram.com/2016/11/quick-how-might-the-alien-spacecraft-work/

But first, how exactly does one represent in written from, that sound one makes upon encountering something both slightly surprising and interesting? “Huh,” seems more like the sound one makes upon hearing something about which one is incredulous. For example: “Your Goldfish is escaping on foot!” “Huh?” Instead, I feel I need a word with a little touch of an ‘n’ in it to downplay the puzzlement by making the word less punchy; “That spaceship hangs in the air much in the way bricks don’t.” “Hunh.” That reads better, yes? Obviously, this is easily resolved via inflection when spoken, but there’s no clear written convention. So, okay, I’ll go with “hunh” to express slight surprise with a dash of interest.

hunh. I stumbled over the movie Arrival in Netflix back in 2018, and sort of enjoyed it.

Say what you will about Stephen Wolfram. I’m not referring to the fact that he was directly involved as being a point for, or against, the movie. Rather, I’m interested in his point—which I’m loosely reshaping here—that people who have a good feel for people make good movies about people. Given that the vast majority of people are bad at science, then most people who make movies would make bad movies about science.

Ironically, I’d argue that Arrival is a good science fiction movie, but not a good movie about people.

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WolframAlpha

I wonder how many Sundays are between June 17th 2012 and today?

WolframAlpha: 79.

Ho. Lee. Crap. That’s awesome.

You do know about WolframAlpha, right? …the “computational knowledge engine”? No? Go there. Ask it things.

Stephen Wolfram is a character. (But anyone whose thesis committee contains Richard Feynman gets a complete pass in my book.) “This math stuff is annoying…” Bam! Mathematica. And if you want to really go “whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!”, try to wrap your brain around, A New Kind of Science.

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