Physicists from all over the world, searching for new particles, types of matter and even extra dimensions of space are on the verge of tomorrow's scientific discoveries. It is no wonder Hollywood borrows from this amazing science to keep movie goers on the edge of their seats. Join ESI and Dr. Sacha Kopp as we discuss antimatter, Armageddon and more.
Hot Science - Cool Talks
"Angels & Demons: Physics, Antimatter & Armageddon" by Dr. Sacha Kopp
Assistant Professor of Physics, The University of Texas at Austin
Friday, February 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm (Central Time)
Pre-lecture activities begin at 5:45 pm, come early and get involved!
Welch Hall (WEL) Rm. 2.224
FREE to the public
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown is Brown's third Robert Langdon thriller. In Brown's first two Langdon books -- Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code -- Langdon uncovered conspiracies within the Catholic church that involved art and science. The Lost Symbol takes place in Washington D.C. and explores the secrets of Freemasonry.
Brown is not the first to use the Masons as a launching point for a thriller. Indeed, I couldn't help but compare my experience reading The Lost Symbol with watching National Treasure. I enjoyed the movie more because it took itself less seriously than The Lost Symbol and enjoyed a visual advantage (always nice to be able to see the symbols and buildings involved in a conspiracy). Still, there is plenty of Mason folklore to go around, and The Lost Symbol does a fine job of creating another mystery in our nation's capital.
So why do I consider The Lost Symbol merely an average read? First, Brown does not create anything new -- no new character development, no big surprises in plot trajectory. Furthermore, his signatures "twists" are not nearly as tantalizing as in his previous books. After so much build up, I found myself let down by the reality of the secrets revealed in the end. Finally, there are several points when it seems as if Brown is trying to make his book more intelligent or profound than it actually is. Langdon's rants about religion and truth, when not directly tied to the mystery, are tedious and even a little preachy. In fact, the last 50 pages of the book try a little too hard to be enlightening.
My recommendation: If you're planning a trip to Washington D.C. in the next year, this would be a fun read to accompany your tour. Otherwise, unless you're a die hard Brown fan, I'd get on your library list or wait for the paperback release.
Today Random House finally revealed the cover art for author Dan Brown’s latest book The Lost Symbol. The cover of the new book confirms that the third adventure will take place on home soil, with a 12-hour race to the finish quest set in Washington, DC. The book is the third in a series that follows mystery-solving Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon unravel conspiracy theories using hidden codes. As we’ve previously reported, Columbia Pictures has already moving forward with a third film in the franchise, which already accounts for over $1.23 billion in worldwide box office. Check out the full book cover after the jump.
The cover on the domestic release features a picture of the Capitol with a red wax seal against a background of symbols. The Masonic-like seal is speculated to be of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Northern Jurisdiction, confirming rumors that the story will likely deal with the Free Masons. The cover for the Britain and Australian editions shows the Capitol and a key with a square and a compass for a handle. Brown’s U.S. editor Jason Kaufman admits that the story is set in Washington but “it’s a Washington few will recognize.”
The book will hit store shelves on 9.15.09. No word on when exactly director Ron Howard plans to film the big scrern adaptation.
On the international front, it's proving to be a great summer for Sony Pictures, which has taken two movies that performed poorly in the U.S. and Canada to healthy grosses overseas. "Angels and Demons" this weekend became the No. 1 worldwide movie of the year, thanks much more to its $293 million in foreign grosses than the $116.1 million it has earned domestically.
With most Vatican City locations off-limits to film crews, you might be wondering just how Ron Howard’s new film, “Angels & Demons,” was made. Find the answers in the upcoming issue of “Cinefex,” which reveals the secrets behind the making of the blockbuster film by Ron Howard, based on Dan Brown’s best-selling book.
Due out on newsstands and in bookstores on June 15, “Cinefex” covers the film’s remarkable visual effects in a 14-page article that features exclusive interviews with visual effects supervisor Angus Bickerton and his team, charged, among other things, with digitally extending production designer Allan Cameron’s expansive sets to create realistic Vatican exteriors.
Accompanying the article are color photographs, including frames from the film and behind-the-scenes shots of the remarkable effects work. Pre-orders may be placed now by visiting the magazine¹s online store at www.cinefex.com
Source - cinefex.com
Interview : Ewan McGregor
May 21, 2009
Scottish actor Ewan McGregor can play virtually anything, from Obi Wan to an Irish priest and then anything in between. Effortlessly segueing from big-budget Hollywood to indie films such as the Sundance hit "I Love You Phillip Morris", McGregor is convincing in anything he does.
In Ron Howard's "Angels and Demons", McGregor co-stars as a priest on duty in the Vatican during impending papal elections. The part was originally an Italian before Howard changed it to an Irishman, now being played by a Scot.
While promoting the film in New York, Paul Fischer spoke to the always affable Mr. McGregor in thids exclusive interview:
Question: Is it a joy being an actor for you, the ability to jump from one extreme to the other as you did from Phillip Morris to Angels?
McGregor: I love it. I do like that about my job, yeah. I mean, the whole point of it is that you're pretending to be different people. And you get to explore other people's lives and worlds. And I'm always looking for things I haven't done before, or - you know, people - situations that I might be interested in exploring like that. Yeah. That is what makes it fantastic.
Question: Were you familiar with this extraordinary sort of literary franchise that is the Angels and Demons?
Light the torches and sharpen the pitchforks, I enjoyed “The Da Vinci Code.” While long-winded, Ron Howard’s version of the Dan Brown best-seller provided a lovingly smothering mood of daredevil exposition and for-fans-only historical minutiae. Even if I didn’t seize the scholarly passion burning behind the dialogue or comprehend the larger religious misconduct of the plot, I enjoyed the cinematic bluster of the work and appreciated how Howard took the time to preserve the experience for the fanatics. Plus, a heaping dose of star power from the stately Tom Hanks never hurts, unless Nora Ephron is directing. “Angels & Demons” rolls up to bat three years after “Code” stormed the box office, and while Howard’s promise of a snappier pace is kept, it’s hard to sense much of a seismic difference between the two films. But that’s fine by me.
When the Large Hadron Collider, assisted by the nervous Vittoria Vetra (Aylet Zurer, “Munich”), breaks down a minute amount of antimatter into three canisters for scientific testing, one of the containers is quickly stolen by a rogue group called the Illuminati. A secret society bent on disrupting the Vatican’s postmortem search for a new pope, Illuminati agents plant the canister in a hidden passage of Vatican City, kidnapping four cardinals and threatening to destroy those gathered to mourn.
Analysis: Writer's fiction distorts facts about Catholicism
May 21, 2009
"Angels & Demons" is an exercise in Catholic-bashing that falls short because author Dan Brown doesn't know enough about Catholicism to create a convincing distortion of it.
I'm not Catholic, but I've covered the church for nearly 30 years, including the 2005 papal election. Although this movie gets many visual details right, its version of church teaching, history and governance is fiction.
The movie's most faithful Catholics are villains who believe they have the right to murder for their faith. Initially, I thought it attempted to be evenhanded in its bigotry, since avowed atheists were portrayed as sadistic, homicidal sociopaths. But it turns out -- and our film reviewer forbade me from detailing the silly ending -- that's a sham.
As the movie begins, a pope has died and four cardinals have been kidnapped by "the Illuminati," a secret society allegedly dating to the Renaissance that supposedly vowed revenge on the church for the persecution of scientists. The real Illuminati were freethinkers in 18th-century Germany, long after the deaths of Bernini, Galileo and others who the movie claims belonged to them.
The group dissolved before 1800, although some far right-wing conspiracy theorists claim that it endures and is plotting to rule the world via the Skull and Bones Society at Yale University.
The plot turns on the idea that the Catholic Church is opposed to scientific research. In fact, the Vatican sponsors a world-class observatory and conferences on science and ethics.
Controversy, if nothing else, sells newspapers and movie tickets.
It worked with Ron Howard's first film adaptation of a Dan Brown novel, 2006's "The Da Vinci Code," and Hollywood is hoping it will work again for their second collaboration, "Angels and Demons," which opened nationwide yesterday.
Howard recently stoked the fires with a terse op-ed in the Huffington Post, responding to calls for a boycott of the film by Catholic League President Bill Donohue.
"Let me be clear: neither I nor 'Angels & Demons' are anti-Catholic," Howard wrote. "And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome."
Maybe, maybe not. But either way, in Round 2 of the battles with Brown, many church leaders are taking a new approach by trying to ignore the film, hoping that the less attention they give it, the quicker it will go away.
He may co-star in "Angels & Demons," Ron Howard's follow-up to the uber-successful "The Da Vinci Code," but Ewan McGregor doesn't understand why the movie's got the Catholic church all riled up.
"The Vatican weren't throwing their doors open for us as they were still upset over 'The Da Vinci Code.' ... We've been asked a lot about the controversy with the Vatican but no one has made it clear what the controversy is!," the actor said in an interview for ABC News Now's "Popcorn" with Peter Travers.
McGregor portrays Camerlengo Patrick McKenna in "Angels & Demons," adapted from Dan Brown's bestselling novel. Camerlengo is Italian for chamberlain, and in the Roman Catholic Church, he is one of the Pope's advisors. Though "Angels & Demons" was written as a prequel to "The Da Vinci Code," this movie presents it as a sequel.
As Camerlengo, McGregor's character, Patrick McKenna, runs the Vatican in the interim after the Pope's mysterious death before the Cardinals elect a new pope. McGregor defends the film, saying, "It's a very old school, fast-paced thriller with bombs ticking in the background and set in the world of the Vatican. There is nothing anti-Catholic nor anti-Christian about it."
McGregor insists that, at the heart of the film, the conflict is mainly between science and religion. The parties within the Catholic faith who are represented as evildoers are found out and punished by the cardinals and thus, McGregor insists, the Catholic Church as a whole is not tarnished.
The Tom Hanks religious thriller "Angels & Demons" took the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office in North America after selling a respectable $48.0 million of tickets, its distributor said on Sunday, trailing its much-hyped predecessor "The Da Vinci Code."
Box office pundits had expected the latest movie to open in the $40 million to $50 million range, and Columbia Pictures said it was thrilled with the result.
In 2006, "The Da Vinci Code" opened to $77 million on its way to a domestic haul of $217.5 million. It was even bigger internationally, earning $540.7 million.
Both films are based on best-selling books by Dan Brown. But Columbia said the first book sold twice as many copies as the second one, a clear indication that the second movie would not match the first. The first film also generated a firestorm of controversy with its assertion that Jesus was married.
Hanks returns as a Harvard professor on a mission to save the papacy, and director Ron Howard is also back. The films have one other thing in common: Critics hated both, the new one a little less.
"Angels & Demons" also earned $104.3 million from 96 countries, which Columbia said was the biggest international opening for a film since "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" last year. Columbia is a unit of Sony Corp
An antimatter explosion threatens to level the Vatican in the movie adaptation of the thriller "Angels and Demons," but real-world physicists are unfazed by this plot.
The story features "Da Vinci Code" hero Robert Langdon racing to recover an antimatter capsule stolen from the CERN particle physics facility in Switzerland. Researchers first figured out how to create and trap antimatter particles at CERN, which gave author Dan Brown the inspiration for his story.
One physicist doesn't find CERN's unexpected publicity from the story upsetting. On the contrary, he's rather pleased.
"I always say that what Dan Brown did for the Roman Catholic Church in 'The Da Vinci Code,' he did for me and my research with 'Angels and Demons,'" said Gerald Gabrielse, a Harvard physicist who currently leads an international research team at CERN.
Antimatter is real, but it still represents a baffling presence in the universe – sub-atomic particles that are the opposite of normal matter. When a particle and antiparticle meet, they mutually annihilate each other and release their entire mass as energy.
Angels & Demons tour illuminates the charms of Rome
May 14, 2009
The faithful stream into St. Peter's Square on Christianity's holiest day, engulfing the Egyptian obelisk that centers the piazza so carefully planned by 17th-century sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Stern despite their colorful striped uniforms, members of the Swiss Guards direct those in the Easter crowd fortunate enough to procure free tickets to chairs, while others stand, waiting for a glimpse of papal pomp.
It's a scene that could be taken straight out of Angels & Demons, author Dan Brown's best-selling prequel to the hugely successful — and highly controversial — novel The Da Vinci Code. Just like that book, Angels & Demons has been made into a movie starring Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon, which opens today around the world.
Three years ago, the film based on Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code" was the focus of protest and controversy, with a Vatican archbishop calling for a boycott and Catholics at many levels refuting plot points.
But when it comes to the new film based on a Brown novel, "Angels & Demons," star Tom Hanks says talk of controversy is much ado about nothing.
"Everybody is looking for some scandal whether a scandal exists or not," Hanks said of the film. "I think a kind of natural reaction is now that somehow because it's the second Robert Langdon mystery that there is some degree of controversy over it. And there is really not."
The movie ventures into similar waters as its predecessor, "The Da Vinci Code," with Hanks reprising the role of Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbology expert, and conspiracy theories galore.
It also reunites the Academy Award-winning actor with director Ron Howard, who helmed "Da Vinci," and teams Hanks with actor Ewan McGregor and Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer.
While "The Da Vinci Code" centered on the complex investigation of a murder in the Louvre and the theory that a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene produced descendants, the new film features a murder at the Vatican and a secret and powerful society known as the "Illuminati."
Blast Magazine is holding a giveaway of A&D passes for fans in the Boston area as well as some free schwag. There are only a few more passes left so check out HERE
Source - Blast Magazine
"Angels & Demons" Rome map
May 4, 2009
Source - Sony Pictures Entertainment
"Angels & Demons" director sees Vatican meddling
May 4, 2009
Director Ron Howard accused the Vatican on Sunday of trying to hamper the filming and the Rome roll-out of his new movie "Angels & Demons", and challenged Catholic critics to see the film before condemning it.
The movie sequel to author Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" will premiere in Rome on Monday, with fictional symbologist Robert Langdon returning to the big screen to help the Vatican rescue kidnapped cardinals and find a ticking time-bomb.
The Vatican was outraged by "The Da Vinci Code" and the Rome archdiocese made no secret about denying Howard authorisation to film parts of the follow-up inside its churches.
Howard said the Vatican also exerted its influence "through backchannels" to try to prevent him from shooting in areas around certain churches and got an event related to the film's premiere cancelled, he said.
Director Ron Howard on Tuesday defended his film adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" from criticism that it smears the Roman Catholic Church, heightening an ongoing battle over fictional depictions of the Vatican.
Howard, who also directed the 2006 movie adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code," posted a blog at The Huffington Post website saying that neither he nor his new movie "Angels & Demons," which debuts in May and stars Tom Hanks, are anti-Catholic.
"And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome," Howard wrote.
Howard's post came in response to an opinion piece in the New York Daily News by Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, last week. Donahue accused Brown and Howard of "smearing the Catholic Church with fabulously bogus tales."
Last year, the Catholic Church refused to let "Angels & Demons" be filmed in churches in Rome because of the Vatican's outrage over "The Da Vinci Code."
Howard's drama "Frost/Nixon" was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards this year, but lost to "Slumdog Millionaire." His other films include "A Beautiful Mind," which won the best picture Oscar and best directing Oscar for 2001, as well as 1995's "Apollo 13."
Brown this week announced that his follow-up novel to "The Da Vinci Code" will be released in September and is titled "The Lost Symbol."
Many locals remain unmoved by the Vatican’s proposed boycott of the upcoming movie adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, Angels and Demons.
Controversy has been stirring since 2006, when the first film in the series, The Da Vinci Code was released. Vatican officials have called the stories an ‘offense against God’, but local religious leaders disagree, saying it’s pure entertainment, not to be taken at face value.
Father Timothy Shea of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Belleville, believes the biggest issue with any movie is distinguishing fact from fiction. Because of Brown’s talent to produce a complex story from a few facts, Shea assumes that the Vatican is simply concerned that people will not view the film critically. He disagrees however, and trusts the public can make that judgment.
“I think people are pretty smart,” he says. “I think if they want to have a night of entertainment and go see a Tom Hanks movie, then sure! Go ahead!”
The Vatican Plans to Boycott “Angels and Demons” Movie
April 4, 2009
Several Church officials have expressed disapproval of the religiously controversial film.
According to Reuters, the Vatican’s official newspaper ran a story on Friday that expressed that the Church “cannot approve” of such a problematic film. The film, Angels & Demons, is a follow-up to the big-budget film, The Da Vinci Code. Both films were directed by Ron Howard.
Meanwhile, the Turin daily, La Stampa, stated that the Vatican is planning to boycott the film, but worries that this might cause a “boomerang effect” that could encourage people to see the film, and in turn make it become more popular.
A similar boycott happened in 2006 when The Da Vinci Code had been released in theaters. However, the film, which is based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, was still successful in the box office, earning an estimated $760 million worldwide.
I'm sure Dan Brown must be used to coming under attack from Catholics for his pulpy, page-turners and the nearing release of the film version of "Angels & Demons" is no exception. The Vatican banned "Angels & Demons" from filming footage inside Rome's churches last summer, and now the movie is under attack from everyone's favorite Catholic with an email account (and/or a fax machine): Bill Donohue of The Catholic League (and methinks The Catholic League may literally be one man with one email account/fax machine). The National Post reports about Donohue and his statement:
"Donohue, who has been president of the Catholic League since 1993, says that Brown's inclusion of Galileo in this group is "nonsense" because Galileo died before the Illuminati were officially formed in 1776. Donohue states on the Catholic League's website: "So why do they lie? Because their goal is to paint the Catholic Church as the enemy of science, and what better poster boy to trot out than their favorite martyr, Galileo? The ultimate victim, Galileo's alleged persecution is cited as proof of the Church's war on reason."
It's just a novel! Everybody knows that Dan Brown can't tell history from his elbow.
ET's Mark Steines is on location in Geneva, Switzerland with Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard in the most unlikely of places that serves as the setting for the beginning of the action in 'Angels and Demons,' the highly anticipated follow-up to 'The Da Vinci Code'!
Filming took place at CERN, the real-life nuclear research facility featured in Dan Brown's compelling book and movie. Tom was in a playful mood with the nuclear physicists that work at the plant when he arrived, asking questions like, "With the super collider, can you reheat a cup of coffee?"
The plot of the movie is set in motion with the discovery of the first dead body -- a respected physicist, his chest branded with the symbol of the Illuminati -- leading to a conspiracy involving none other than the use of anti-matter itself to destroy the Vatican.
"It was fascinating working on 'Da Vinci Code,' but with 'Angels and Demons,' this is a very modern contemporary thriller; it's very much about the moment," says Ron.
Our Mark Steines also donned a hard hat and descended 30 stories into the depths of the earth to get a firsthand look at the incredible hardware at the facility and meet the physicists responsible for the research to recreate the origins of The Big Bang itself!
"All those particle physics groupies that are kind of like Deadheads in a lot of ways, they just are on a caravan, they come here all the time," jokes Tom. "They're out front selling T-shirts and glow sticks -- that are made of anti matter by the way, so they will glow for a long, long time."
Source - etonline.com
Howard Shot Secret Scenes In Vatican - Despite Ban
December 1, 2008
Da Vinci Code director Ron Howard had to shoot the movie's forthcoming prequel using imitations of the Catholic churches in the storyline - after the Vatican banned him from all of its holy buildings.
The first movie's portrayal of the Catholic church angered the religion's heads, who were in no mood to cooperate when Howard headed to Rome, Italy this year to shoot an adaptation of author Dan Brown's 2000 book Angels and Demons, which is set in the Vatican City.
As a result, Howard has been forced to used camera trickery and substitute locations.
He reveals, "We've had problems filming in Catholic Churches. We just weren't allowed anywhere near them."
But, during an interview on U.S. TV show Shootout, Howard hints he found a loophole to sneak into the city: "We didn't shoot at the Vatican... officially. But cameras can be made really small."