May Movies: The Films of Akira Kurosawa

A giant of 20th-century cinema, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) holds a unique place among the world’s most distinguished filmmakers as the only non-Westerner whose work is revered by American and European audiences and directors alike. Join us Saturdays in May for our annual month-long homage to this visionary celluloid artist. Kurosawa is recognized as […]

A giant of 20th-century cinema, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) holds a unique place among the world’s most distinguished filmmakers as the only non-Westerner whose work is revered by American and European audiences and directors alike.

Join us Saturdays in May for our annual month-long homage to this visionary celluloid artist.

Kurosawa is recognized as one of the great cinema auteurs both for his technical mastery and the universal humanist themes that pervade his work: a compassion for individual suffering, a quest for justice through personal rebellion against corrupt social structures, and a concern for the existential crises of humanity in the face of death, social pressure, and the apparent meaningless of life’s struggles.

His work has exerted enormous influence on post-WWII film: George Lucas used Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress as a model for Star Wars, Sergio Leone adapted his samurai tales to create the “spaghetti western,” and John Sturges transformed Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai into The Magnificent Seven (to cite but a few examples).

Here are just a few of Kurosawa’s acclaimed films we’ll be broadcasting throughout the month:

The Seven Samurai
An epic retelling of the most famous Japanese story, The Seven Samurai is a true classic. The film has proved inspirational to many other films including George Lucas’ Star Wars, and The Magnificent Seven, a direct adaption for the old west. 

Drunken Angel
Another classic from arguably the greatest filmmaker of all time. The story revolves around a petty gangster who contracts TB, and the doctor who attempts to treat him despite the gangster’s foolish pride.


Rashomon
In ancient Japan, a woman is raped and her husband killed. The film gives us four viewpoints of the incident – one for each defendant.
Don’t miss out!

David Granet on KUSI

Health Matters host David Granet recently stopped by the KUSI studio to discuss his work at UC San Diego’s Ratner Children’s Eye Center at the Shiley Eye Center. Check out the clip below.

Health Matters host David Granet recently stopped by the KUSI studio to discuss his work at UC San Diego’s Ratner Children’s Eye Center at the Shiley Eye Center. Check out the clip below.

On Location: State of Minds Crew at UC Santa Cruz

UCTV’s State of Minds crew was on the UC Santa Cruz campus last week shooting host segments for the Spring 2010 edition (premiering later this month). Executive Producer and host Shannon Bradley reports from the field: We spent a good part of last week shooting for State of Minds at UC Santa Cruz. What a […]

UCTV’s State of Minds crew was on the UC Santa Cruz campus last week shooting host segments for the Spring 2010 edition (premiering later this month). Executive Producer and host Shannon Bradley reports from the field:

We spent a good part of last week shooting for State of Minds at UC Santa Cruz. What a gorgeous campus!

Our contact there, Guy Lasnier, was extremely helpful in arranging locations for our host segments and in setting up our interview with Olga Nájera-Ramírez, the anthropologist who just finished a beautiful documentary on Folklórico dance. We’ll feature clips from her film in our show, along with stories from Rich Wargo on Jose Restrepo, a UC San Diego structural engineer who surveyed the earthquake damage in Chile; Paul Pfotenhauer’s piece on the new, green Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis; and a segment from our newest correspondent, Carla Yarbrough at UC Riverside, on researchers who are creating the perfect grass – green turf that doesn’t need much water.

Here’s our crew, Matt Alioto (right) and Ken Zukin (left), along with Guy Lasnier (center), as we set up at Terra Fresca Restaurant for the intro into Paul’s story on food and wine:

Here’s Guy (closest) being drafted into carrying gear with Matt and Ken out to a scenic vista overlooking the Great Meadow.

We chose this spot to introduce Carla’s piece on drought-tolerant turf (from left to right, Matt, Ken, Guy):

Here’s a post-interview shot with Olga Nájera-Ramirez (center), her former graduate student, Russell Rodriguez (left), and me (right). I talked with the two of them about making “Danza Folkórica Escénica: El Sello Artístico de Rafael Zamarripa,” a documentary featuring the acclaimed folklórico choreographer. Olga and Russell first met Zamarripa as young folklórico dancers more than 30 years ago. Their film traces the development of this traditional Mexican dance form through Zamarripa’s experiences and artistic productions.

And finally, a fan spies on our production:

Read more about the visit and see additional photos at this article from UC Santa Cruz.

– Shannon Bradley

Monthly Highlights: May 2010

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A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On

San Diego’s had quite a few tumblers lately and, with additional earthquakes occurring around the world, a lot of us are feeling pretty shaky ourselves. Check out these earthquake-related programs that’ll help you understand what’s behind the quakes, how engineers are making our buildings safer, and what you can do to be better prepared.

Paths to Peace in the Middle East

Navigating negotiations in the volatile Middle East is a challenge yet to be met, and it seems to grow more complicated by the week. Tune in this month for several perspectives that offer the valuable context you need to really understand this complicated process.

Can Obama Bring Peace to the Middle East?
Steven Spiegel, the director of UCLA’s Center for Middle East Development, shares the innovative and informal negotiation techniques that he is urging the Obama administration to employ as it pursues security in this historical volatile region.

Achieving a Just Peace in the Middle East with Nasser Barghouti
The President of San Diego’s American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League examines the root causes of conflict in the Middle East and offers a vision for resolution that he argues is based on universal concepts of human rights.

Amb. Michael Oren: US-Israel Relations from a Historical and Personal Perspective

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States recounts the long history of shared goals between the US and Israel and outlines how the two countries can work together for peace in the Middle East.

In Memoriam: Craig Noel

We mourn the recent passing of local theater legend Craig Noel. In 2005, Noel visited the UCSD-TV studio and sat down for a chat with another local legend, Jack O’Brien. Tune in for an encore presentation of this wide-ranging conversation about Noel’s storied 70-year career with The Old Globe.

A Theatrical Life: A Conversation with Craig Noel

The Evolution of Human Biodiversity

From the brain, to immunity to entire populations, the Evolution of Human Biodiversity series explores the many facets of human biodiversity from where it begins — in our genetic makeup.

Tune in Thursday nights at 6 for this fascinating fix from the Center for Academic Research and Training in Antrhopogeny (CARTA).


PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

All programs repeat throughout the month. Visit the Program Schedule on our web site for additional air dates and times.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS

State of Minds: Folklorico, Green Design, Drought-tolerant Turf (Spring 2010)

SCIENCE

Solar Activity During the Last Millennium

TeacherTECH: Using Google Earth

Art and Science in the Age of Enlightenment: From Newton to the Bill of Rights

HEALTH & MEDICINE

Health Matters: Down Syndrome

About Health: Smoking Cessation

ARTS & MUSIC

Lytle Memorial Concert: Liszt-O-Mania

Making Lilith



NEW TO VIDEO ON-DEMAND

Please visit Video On-Demand to view the latest additions to our online video library. All programs can be viewed in RealPlayer.

Pt. Loma Writer’s: An Evening with Bill McKibben

Health Matters: Family Medicine

UC San Diego Jazz Camp: Johnnie’s Corner Song

More >>

Hunting the Higgs: The Rediscovery of Physics

I had titled the last blog pedal to the metal, but as a tyro impressed by the gargantuan machine and counter intuitive contrasts of scales – I really had no idea. Yes, the CMS logged hundreds of thousands of p-p collisions in a day or two. But they were a bit like Saturday afternoon slow […]

I had titled the last blog pedal to the metal, but as a tyro impressed by the gargantuan machine and counter intuitive contrasts of scales – I really had no idea. Yes, the CMS logged hundreds of thousands of p-p collisions in a day or two. But they were a bit like Saturday afternoon slow pitch, or in deference to my Mentor in this endeavor – backyard bowling practice – as compared to fast yorkers and googlys at the Cricket World Cup.

Man-on-the-scene Matt LeBourgeios on March 30, 2010

As explained to me by our man-on-the-scene Matt LeBourgeois, the last week or so was only preparation for what Vivek calls “The Rediscovery of Physics”. Even though my occasional visits to the LHC status page showed 7TeV beams and what looked to me like a lot of luminosity (they were, and there was), there were a lot of not-so-subtle nuances to what was going on. Last week or so was the beam operators; the people responsible for injecting protons into the 27 kilometer race track and providing focused, stable and energetic beams tuning their instrument to perfection.

The line traces the 27 kilometer track of the LHC on the French – Swiss countryside…

As Matt related, the operators maintain that what they provided in that first week or so was not intense enough for “discovery physics”; that is, really compelling huge numbers of protons to collide – but it was exciting enough for our young Ahab (I’ll get to that in a later blog) to whet his appetite.

Actually, it was the opportunity CMS needed to tune its instrument, doing among other things something called timing scans, which has to do with setting the triggers on the CMS. This is the realm where Matt works, where he is one of many monitoring all sorts of different parameters and data involved with timing to make sure things are working, or for working out problems when they arise. In his typically gracious manner he calls himself “just a pawn.” I’ll maintain whatever one does on this job is going to mean something pretty darn important one day. Anyway, as Vivek explained, the CMS is like a 100 million pixel camera. The catch, as Matt pointed out, is that each pixel has its own shutter, here in his own words: “the point of the timing scan is to sync the 100 megapixels of the camera. Instead of thinking of having to hit one camera button to take a snap shot, think of it as each ‘pixel’ has its own button, and these timing scans ensure that we are hitting all 100 million buttons at once.” Whew! I can only assume if that doesn’t happen, the resulting “picture” lacks focus.

So CMS now has the shutters timed and the beam operators are really putting the pedal to the metal. The latest from Vivek is “…now squeezing the beams like hell – so more rapidfire collisions”. What? Vivek explained that the beams that collided on March 30 were something like the diameter of a hair, now the operators are tuning the beams to be something much thinner (?!!)- with the same number of protons in the beams. They’re focusing and concentrating the beams. Why? Same number, smaller space = greater density = greater luminosity. Vivek has a vivid description of those less focused March 30th beams in this video clip.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Another way to put it is like shooting two shotguns at each other – you get two bunches of shot, each with 10 to the 11th pellets (that’s like, oh, a hundred billion pellets in each), flying towards each other in the hope that some of the pellets hit directly head-on with all their momentum going into their mutual deconstruction. The more concentrated the shot pattern, the better the odds of collisions. So when the operators can provide focused, stable beams, then people like Vivek and Matt and their colleagues can really do their work – which is PHYSICS; and the operators can post messages like “enjoy the collisions” and “physics beams” on the LHC status page here. Now I’ve simplified, and probably to the horror of physicists out there, over-simplified this. Be certain, there are a lot of precise and very specific protocols involving terms like beta-star and picobarns that indicate the level of performance and quantity of data the physicists are getting – very strict parameters that are adhered to, because remember-they’re working with things we can’t see, have never seen before, and whose existence we can only infer, albeit very precisely and with great certainty, but only through the evidence they leave behind.

So what is that evidence? Well in the energy range – or mass – (remember it ALL boils down to this – E=mc2) in which the LHC will be looking for the next year or so, the signature of a Higgs boson of about the mass of an entire gold atom (which is about 185 GeV!), will be the remains of two W bosons. And that – which Matt and Vivek and a few thousand others will be looking for – will be events that show specific combinations of electrons, muons, or electrons and muons AND their corresponding neutrino counterparts, which show up only as a precise amount of missing energy – something called Missing Transverse Energy. If the event shows all three of those parameters to an exceedingly high degree of certainty, then it will get some interest, and Vivek, Matt and a world of physicists will pore over it. The catch is, one event won’t be telling. They need several such events, enough to satisfy something called 5 sigma criterion – I know you all know what that indicates, sorry I’m playing catch up, but for those like me, it is a term describing a statistical certainty to a level of less than one fault in a billion. In other words, there is only less than a 1-in-a-billion chance that they’re wrong. So you need a lot of incontrovertible events, and to get several such events…you need thousands, millions and ok I’ll hyperbolize, (but I have a feeling it isn’t really hyperbole) – probably billions of p-p collisions to get those events. Just to add another twist, as Matt told me the other day, W boson production, without the creation of a Higgs first is almost a hundred times more likely to occur. So there will be a lot of W bosons that show up WITHOUT evidence for Higgs….hence, collisions, collisions, collisions, “squeeze the hell” out of those beams. And then there are the usual gremlins encountered with complex systems. Vivek recently showed me how one such event looked interesting, but one of the parameters was due to an instrumental glitch – so, “close but no cigar” and into the trash with that one….so, collisions, collisions, collisions.

In the meantime, as the operators keep perfecting their craft, “squeezing the hell” out of the beams, with the p-p events occurring at an ever accelerating rate, Vivek and company are happy to do what Vivek describes as “Rediscovering Physics”. It isn’t just an idle exercise or coincidence of smashing protons. As of the Ides of April Vivek explained that the LHC has “discovered” every major particle revealed in the 20th century, up to about 1983, when Carlo Rubbia discovered the the W and Z bosons. Or that is – it has rediscovered them, and this is important why?

This is a new instrument, a new machine, and as Vivek explained, if you don’t see what you already know about with this machine, then you may have a problem with your instrument, and basically, you can’t trust the results….So now, working at heretofore unattained energy the LHC has tallied a gamut of fundamental particles, starting with the pi mesons of 1947. Their discovery bolstered the existence of Up and Down quarks. Oh, and the LHC attained this in the first 15 minutes of operation at 7TeV. Then it was the Strange (50′s) and Charm quarks of the 70′s and on and on. As of this writing they’re still in the hunt for the last few particles – variations of the Z boson, a hunt which might end at any moment the way they’re smashing zillions of protons (my hyperbole). Even for a naive eye the data is totally convincing, you’ll be able see it soon when it is published and when you do, I think you’ll agree it’s waaaay 5 sigma. And that’s a good thing. The LHC is seeing what it is supposed to be seeing – so when new things show up – those electron-neutrino (elnu), muon-neutrino (munu), MTE (Missing Transverse Energy) triptychs of data – Vivek and friends will know it isn’t a phantom – but instead, perhaps, the sign of the holy grail, the great white whale, or as it has been called – the god particle…..Bonne Chasse mes amis!