absent_minded_prof | Massachusetts | 08/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is impossible to overstate how amazing this little movie is. I still remember seeing it for the first time, at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., at the age of nine, wearing my Boston Red Sox baseball cap. I literally had to be dragged away. I just wanted to see it again and again.This video contains both the final version of the film, which I saw as a child, and the original, discarded film from which the final version was derived. In the final version, the "camera" begins by focusing on a couple lying out on a picnic blanket, in a small park in Chicago. Every ten seconds, the camera pulls back by a factor of ten, AKA a single "order of magnitude," for all you non-scientists out there. Gradually you come to see the entire park, then the city of Chicago, then the entire metropolitan region, the Great Lakes, North America, Earth... At the end of four minutes, the "camera" has pulled back by ten to the twenty-fourth meters, which is far enough back to be far outside of our Milky Way galaxy, and even outside our local supercluster, the Virgo supercluster. One almost wishes that Ray and Charles Eames had attempted this marvel of a film after the 1980s, when, due to advances in our astronomical understanding of the universe, they could have included an extra 30 or 40 seconds of pulling back the camera, to include large-scale structure, the "Great Attractor," etc. At any rate, after the four minutes of pulling the camera back, they zip it back in at the couple on the blanket at five times the original speed, in 48 seconds flat. (For more fun than humans should be allowed, you might want to use your remote control to fast-forward this part. What a ride!) The camera zips in to focus on the hand of the man lying on the picnic blanket, and then goes INWARD, getting smaller and smaller, into the cells on his hand, within his DNA, inside a carbon atom, and into the very nucleus of the carbon atom. The range of scales covered is ten to the fortieth power, which seeing this movie will help you understand in a profoundly visceral way. No mean feat, eh?!!?After this treat of a film, we see the earlier version upon which it was based. The primary difference between the two versions is that in the first version, there is a side window kept running throughout the movie, which shows the effect of relativity on the time-keeping of ten seconds per order of magnitude of meters travelled. Around the time the "camera" pulls back from 10-to-the-13th to 10-to-the-14th meters, the subjective time-sense of the camera operator would start to be strongly affected by relativity, because the "camera" would start to be travelling at a significant fraction of the speed of light. Gradually, subjective and Earthly time-sense gets so far out of whack that ten seconds for the cameraman would be 100,000,000 years on Earth. This might have the effect of prompting the philosophically-inclined viewer to get the screaming meemies, but it's better not to sweat the phiosophical details too much. Just ride with it, baby. Anyway, evidently, the producers decided that the additional feature of the relativistic clock was too distracting, and they pulled it from the final version. Here in this video, we get to see both versions of the film, which is a pretty tremendous experience.If you are a science or math teacher, or if you know one with a birthday coming up, for crying out loud BUY THIS MOVIE!!! It's so fantastic, it will make kids wonder why on Earth any rational human would ever voluntarily do anything other than study science and math. Ten-to-the-fortieth thumbs up!"
The Eames and "Powers of Ten"
G. A. BRAVO-CASAS | New York, NY USA | 09/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a joy! I have been waiting for this DVD. Although I have not yet seen this DVD (I have the Laser version) I can anticipate it is going to be a major success. "Powers of Ten" is a rapid visual presentation about the relative size of everything in the universe, as it was known in 1997 when Charles Eames and his wife Ray prepared this film (and a companion book for Scientific America). It starts on a summer day in Chicago and every few seconds later, distances begin to increase "ten times", at a time (10, 100, 1000, 10000, etc - thus showing the magnification effect of adding another zero), from 10 to the power zero (one meter) to 10 to the power 25. Then, distances collapse and, in a back trip, are reduced also by tens. The entire range covers from 10 at the power 25 (more or less, one billion light years, where entire galaxies appear as dust particles) to ten a the power minus 16 (one tenth of the size of quarks!). This rapid trip from the human scale to the infinitely large and to the infinitely small is more exhilarating than a mesmerizing guided tour of the descending ramp of the new Rose Planetarium of the Museum of Natural History in New York. The second major feature of this volume is "901", which refers to the Eames address in Venice, California. The film shows their Victorian house and the materials that they accumulated in 45 years of their careers as organizers of major exhibitions around the world. The entire collection was acquired by the Smithsonian Institute."
A hidden treasure.
sebastian hope | Olympia WA | 07/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most people will only ever assosiate the Eames name with the utilitarian furntiture that fills the airports of the world, if they know them at all. This is a great showcase of two people who had an incredible career of creativity. From furniture to toys to musical instruments to films they could do it all. Who else could possibly cut such a wide swath through the world of design? Nowadays it takes huge bloated companies with pretentious designers and staffs of idea thiefs to produce the same quality of work that Charles and Ray put out (ok, they had a staff, but still). "The Powers of 10" film puts to shame the film strips of my youth and I'm disgusted that in all my years of public school I was never shown any of their films. The whole series is an inspiration to anybody who fancies themselves creative in any way."
Fascinating Short Film
Goodbye Cruel World | Under Your Skin | 09/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Few twenty-minutes films pack so much thought-provoking material into such a brief run-time. Here is the most famous screen work of Charles and Ray Eames, a (sadly forgotten) visionary married couple whose inventions and achievements in architecture, design, film-making and science should in fairness have made them household names. This DVD contains an introduction to the Eames themselves, an overview of their creative works, and then it presents their cinematic magnum opus, The Powers of Ten, as it was in finished 1970's form, followed by an earlier 1960's prototype of the film. The Powers of Ten opens the mind to the scale of the universe without and the universe within. It takes one from a microcosmic scene of a couple picnicking on the Chicago lakefront, then rises by a ten-fold magnification every ten seconds, from a view of the park at one-hundred meters, to a kilometer, and so on, until we view Chicago spread out below, then the whole of the American Midwest, then the earth itself, the solar system, our edge of the galaxy, the whole of the galaxy, and so on, until we reach a point in space so far removed from where we began that ours and countless other galaxies appear as the merest dim specks, star-like, and barely visible against a tableau of the inky darkness in an infinite void. We are reminded that this is what the majority of what we call space looks like: humbling blackness of unimaginable dimension with tiny pin-holes of radiance breaking through The film then reverses in scope and draws rapidly back to its starting point, and then explores the space within, as it progressively reduces by ten and takes us from the scene in the park down through the cellular level of the man at the picnic until we pass through strands of DNA and finally arrive at the tiniest speck of sub-atomic matter in existence. The Powers of Ten unavoidably compels a viewer to ponder all that lies around us and within us, and is in its simple beauty a meditative work of scientific artistry."