“What’s Up in the Universe?” in HMB, Saturday, May 12

Press release

Posted by on Wed, May 9, 2007


What’s Up in the Universe is a new documentary film by local artist and filmmaker Susan Friedman.  Soon to be shown by PBS, the film reveals the majesty and magnificence of the cosmos in a breath-taking visual journey of exploration. It will be hosted by The Visionary Edge in Half Moon Bay, Saturday, May 12, 2007.  Ms. Friedman will be present to discuss the film-making process and answer questions.

The universe is big, very big; it’s also old, very old. And, in a strange way, it’s our home. We belong here. But are we alone or do we share this awesome universe with other intelligent beings? In this new documentary, Half Moon Bay filmmaker Susan Friedman, from Studio on the Mountain, explores age-old questions about the place of humans in the cosmos. Focusing on our own planetary "hood"—the solar system—the film highlights similarities between Earth and our neighboring planets. How are we related to the various celestial bodies orbiting our sun?

What’s Up in the Universe?, followed by discussion with the filmmaker, will be screened at The Depot (by the Johnson House) at 110 Higgins Purissima Road, Half Moon Bay. Doors open 7:00 pm; film at 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 12. Advance tickets $10, door $15. Call 650-560-0200.

Located in Half Moon Bay, The Visionary Edge is a transformative arts, events, and media venture committed to inspiring millions—via the creativity and potency of films, music, and story—to create a wiser, more sustainable and compassionate world.

Recent discoveries of other planets beyond our solar system, add new excitement and depth to this adventure among the stars. Reports of "extra-solar" planets are arriving with increasing frequency. Just this month, for instance, the first Earth-like planet outside our solar system was identified about 20 light years away. Bigger than Earth, it appears to have conditions suitable for life—liquid water and sufficient warmth from its low-intensity sun.

The search for "cosmic buddies" continues not only beyond our own solar system but out beyond our spiral galaxy, the Milky Way, too. Astronomers tell us that the universe teems with countless billions of galaxies, each with its own billions of stars. The likelihood of many of these stars having planets, some similar to ours and capable of supporting life, is very high—almost a certainty.

But the distance between the stars is so vast—even vaster between galaxies—the chances of travel between different "life worlds" are very remote. Visits from ETs, according to astronomers, are likely to remain the stuff of science fiction for a very, very long time. Nevertheless, contact might still be possible. We may not be able to travel in "nuts and bolts" space ships, but we may be able to communicate through radio waves.

Thousands of scientists around the world are monitoring the skies for telltale signs of intelligence elsewhere. Just as our radio (and then television) broadcasts have been rippling out from our planet for a hundred years, perhaps alien civilizations have been sending out signals, too. One day—and it could happen any time—we may detect a cosmic equivalent of "I Love Lucy"! When that happens, we will know for sure that we are not alone.

Combining the creativity of artists and the ingenuity of scientists, Susan Friedman’s What’s Up in the Universe? highlights one of the most exciting eras in cosmic exploration. The film is part of a larger multimedia project aimed at "educating through exploration," and features video, print, and online resources.

"I took on this work," said Friedman, "because I saw that the current science curriculum is not meeting the needs of a technologically advanced nation. Students are not getting a science education appropriate to their needs as future citizens."

Funded by the National Science Foundation and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Hubble Telescope, and Pacific Islanders in Communication, the multimedia project is designed to guide us along a journey of discovery through our solar system and beyond. Images of deep space include a 3-D fly-through-the-universe, created by Manex Entertainment, the Academy Award-winning company that generated special effects for the hit movie The Matrix and What Dreams May Come.

Another bonus: the musical soundtrack was written and performed by the world-renowned musician George Winston especially for this film.

"What’s Up in the Universe? is a bold artistic vision made real," said Reba Vanderpool, co-founder of The Visionary Edge. "It offers a unique opportunity to reach a wide audience, making the wonders of our universe accessible to young and old alike."

This looks interesting. I’m wondering why this doesn’t show up in the Coastside Calendar?  I subscribe to the coastside calendar in Google, and it would be great if events like this showed up there.  That way I could see them on my home page.

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to unify Coastsider’s Calendar and Events stories.  Sometimes they’re not in sync.

Google calendar is great. At one point I tried to get more Coastside organizations to use it for their public calendars, but no one took me up on it.