"Arte Six": May 2004: ART: "Urgent Architecture"

Through July 11th
"Urgent Architecture"
Outlaw architecture is the subject of LVAC's
new exhibition, "Marjetica Potrc: Urgent Architecture".

Artist/architect Marjeta Potrc is known for her ingenious re-imaginings of architectural structures in 'unplanned' cities (barrios, favelas, shantytowns and squatter communities).

The highlight of the exhibition is a massive installation of housing units, "Hybrid House: Caracas, West Bank, West Palm Beach" (2003), a complex and visually arresting architectural collage based on her research into densely populated communities in Caracas, the West Bank, and West Palm Beach.

Working with the themes of security, defense and the pursuit of happiness, Potrc has constructed a massive installation of housing units based on what she had seen of gated communities and temporary shelters (that have become permanent) in Caracas, the West Bank, and West Palm Beach.

Potrc saw strong affinities between these three areas in terms of the tensions between planned and unplanned space.

Using available materials such as concrete blocks, barbed wire, wood, and aluminum, Potrc’s installation is a monolithic testimony to the power of art and architecture in shaping and re-imagining the human environment.

She is also premiering a series of drawings of Boston’s Big Dig Project.

The exhibition also includes works from her "Power Tools Series" such as "Hippo Water Roller", a rolling container for water that substitutes for the heavy vessels women still use to carry water, in various parts of the world.

Marjetica Potrc has particular interest in “informal” or “unplanned” cities, such as those that develop in major urban areas like São Paolo, Brazil; Caracas, Venezuela; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and many other cities in the world.

Given the often desperate lack of resources in these communities, Potrc designs “self-sustaining” housing units that provide water, sewage, and electrical service to the occupants.

Rather than designing purely practical and drab residences, she injects her designs with glowing colors (pinks and oranges) as a way of celebrating life and the beauty she sees in shared needs.

“We all seek the same things,” she says, “shelter, food, water, and beauty.”

"Marjetica is one of the most extraordinary artists I have ever encountered. Her work doesn’t happen in the isolated confines of the studio, but rather in the world where masses of people compete for space and basic necessities. But far from being depressing or confrontational, her work is charged with beauty, humor and a tremendous sense of possibility. She is involved in a huge enterprise which involves nothing less than the fundamentals of human life and spirit."
– Michael Rush, director of Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art (PBICA)

Artist bio: Marjetica Potrc was born in 1953 in Slovenia, where she still resides. She received art and architecture degrees at the University of Ljubljana where she is now a professor at the Academy of Fine Art. She has exhibited worldwide including the Venice Biennale in 1993, the São Paolo Biennial in 1996, and exhibits at the Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin.

Find it: MIT List Visual Arts Center(LVAC)
20 Ames Street Building E15, Atrium level
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
Get info: (617) 253-4680

Read more art news in the May 2004 issue of "Arte Six".

LIVES: Stuntwoman Cheryl Bermeo


The biggest myth about working as a stuntwoman is that it’s all glamorous work. It is hard work, it’s also exciting work.

It’s also a lot of sitting around and waiting.

You might be on hand, waiting, for 8-10 hours, and then you’re expected to jump up and perform your stunt within the next five minutes.

You might only get one shot at it, too, and you have to hurry, since this is going to be the last shot of the day before going into overtime. Also, the director doesn't always have a good grasp on a stunt. He knows exactly what he wants in his head, but doesn't always know how to express it in technical terms.

Directors have a vision and sometimes it’s hard for them to convey it out loud. For others, they let the stunt coordinator do their job and be creative yet safe, which they translate to the stunt person much better. They speak the same language. And they’re familiar with the risks.

Many times, you might have to improvise a stunt. You just do the best you can with the skills you have and what it is that’s needed. Your objective is to give the director his shot.

I’ve been a stuntwoman for film and TV since 1995 and did live shows which included stunts starting back in 1983. I’ve only assistant-coordinated a couple of things and I’m more interested in doing the stunts than in coordinating them. There’s a lot of work, responsibility and stress that go along with coordinating a team of stuntpeople.

Every stunt situation is different. To make a general statement, I’d have to say that most stunts are a team effort, not just with the other stunt people or stunt coordinator, but also with the effects guys, set dressing, wardrobe, etc. Each department might have a role in what your stunt entails and they all have to work together with no surprises during the stunt.

It’s frustrating when wardrobe doesn't fit properly, allowing you to do your best for the stunt, or when there’s a lack of clear communication between the people involved. These are all factors which can lead to anxiety before a stunt.

The traveling element is also pretty random. I hadn’t traveled for a job in about three years and then I traveled out of the country twice in the same year. I’ve worked in Costa Rica, St. Bart's, St. Thomas, Pittsburgh, and Key West. Of course I like the tropical areas the best, but you never know where you’ll be asked to work.


My initial expectations were a little different from my actual experience. Going into it, I was a professional athlete that competed in tournaments and performed shows four times a day for a live audience, so my mentality was a little different.

I had to learn to be very confident in what I did the first time, not after tons of practice. Sometimes we only get one shot at a stunt.

Also, I was used to instant positive response from a crowd. With stunts, you get a quick "good job", then you’re sent home with your paycheck. There's no huge burst of applause or feedback.

The most difficult part of my job: Downtime. We don’t usually work every day. We don’t always know when we’ll work next, either. Getting the work is harder than doing the work. We spend a lot of time trying to find work. We joke that finding the work is actually the full-time job.

The best part: Freedom. I love the freedom I have. When I’m asked to do a job, I have the choice of doing it or not. Most likely I’ll do it if it’s within my skill level, but I can make that choice.

I also love to train in physical arts, like kickboxing, motorcycle trick riding, and water skiing. I enjoy it.

As far as the actual job, I like the feeling of being able to give them what they ask for, to actually do the stunt. The pay is very satisfactory as well.


Most people think I’m crazy because I do fireburns. Out of all the stunts I perform, fireburns make people the most nervous.

Like anything else, it is knowledge that reduces the fear and I have learned about fireburns so I’m careful, but not fearful.

Others see fireburns as incredibly dangerous because they don’t understand the set up, or the properties of fire.

I won’t say that it’s easy. It looks horrific. But once you understand and learn about it, it’s much easier than it looks.

There are different stunts that can be scary for different reasons, but one that comes to mind as one of my most challenging a scene in "Once Upon a Time in Mexico", while I was doubling Salma Hayek.

I doubled her in the segment where she goes out the fifth story window with Antonio Banderas, they’re both chained together.

The scene starts there and goes through a series of descending swings until they’re near the first floor of the building.

Shown above: Bermeo gets it done, on the set of "Once Upon a Time in Mexico"

When I had to go out that window, the cameras were mounted above us, on the roof looking down, and there were no pads or safety nets below.

I was on a wire and the riggers did a great job of keeping me safe, but jumping out the window (jumping blind, because I initiated the move from the inside) and free-falling eight feet to a dead stop was very difficult.

I was hanging there, between the 4th and 5th floors, then the scene continues to where my stunt partner swings me to a grab, and then I swing him to a spot, etc. But the initial jump out the window was tough.

After each take, I had the rigger double check everything to make sure that all the ropes were still good and the safety clips were still locked.


Personally, I think the difference in the wardrobe of a stuntwoman vs. stuntman creates a difference in the way we handle stunts, on a regular basis.

Normally, the actresses you see on TV or film are in dresses, mini-skirts, lingerie, high heels, etc. Usually something tight or body revealing. Men are mostly in baggier cloths, suits or jeans and shirts, even jackets.

When we perform our stunts, we pad up in crucial areas like the knees, elbows, shoulders, hips and/or tailbones. These will all be different for each individual, depending on the stunt being performed. With most female wardrobe, that doesn't allow for hidden pads, which would show up on camera.

Guess what that means. Right. No pads. Which leads to more bumps and bruises or more serious injuries. Doing stunts in high heels can lead to a sprained or broken ankle.

I’ve doubled Salma Hayek, Rachael Leigh Cook, Jaime Pressly and many more. It’s very important that we mimic the actor -- their walk, stance, mood, their gestures; anything that will be visible in the stunt segment.

Sometimes the stunt happens so fast that you don’t have time to worry about it, but it’s best to always try to look just like the actress. That’s the job.

Bio: Cheryl Bermeo has worked as a professional stuntwoman for most of her adult life. Audiences worldwide have seen her work in “Torque”, “Kill Bill: Vol. 1”, “Planet of the Apes” (2001), and “Kill Bill: Vol. 2”. She is a member of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures.

Bermeo has just been nominated for two Taurus Stunt Awards (Best High Work, Best Work by a Stuntwoman) for her stunt scenes in “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”.

Read in-depth interviews with other performing artists, in the May 2004 issue of "Arte Six".


"Arte Six": May 2004: SCI/TECH: "Troy": Reel Life

“Troy”: Reel Life

Well, here it comes – yet another epic about men with swords. The women do a lot of...not too much. Wear spiffy-looking sandals. Get kidnapped.

On the plus side, the big build-up of the film has brought out some interesting people whose work might otherwise be left to moulder in some dusty museum corner...

[The following text courtesy Mary Reilly and Brian Rose]

Diane Kruger (Helen), Orlando Bloom (Paris), Eric Bana (Hector) and Brad Pitt (Achilles) head the cast for the May 14 release of “Troy,” Hollywood’s answer to the classical Homeric epic, "The Iliad".

The ancient tale tells of a queen’s kidnapping, a bloody siege of the Troy citadel and acrid rivalries amongst wartime allies – all climaxing in a long-awaited victory by means of duplicitous craft.

So,what’s the real story -- did any of this really happen?

To dig up the real dirt on Troy, archaeologist Brian Rose of the University of Cincinnati easily serves as the national authority.

He headed UC’s Greek and Roman expeditions at Troy for 15 years, making finds of ancient gold jewelry, buried sculptures of imperial figures and many other works with historical significance.

Rose’s archaeological odyssey – and that of international colleagues like Manfred Korfmann of the University of Tuebingen in Germany (director of the Troy excavation) and Donna Strahan (chief conservator, Troy excavation) has helped to reveal the real nature of the wars that raged at Troy throughout antiquity.

Their quest was to uncover the truth about the Trojan War and the face so beautiful it launched a thousand ships. With the help of Homer's epic poetry, these are stories that still captivate us, even after more than 3,000 years.

"Although we've excavated a great deal on the mound of Troy itself," Rose says, "I think the Troy project will be remembered most for our work in the Lower City, which extends for about 1,200 feet south of the mound, and especially for what we've learned about the defensive system of the citadel during the phases around 2500 B.C., the second millennium B.C. and the third century B.C."

The team uncovered evidence of a wooden palisade for the second settlement, which existed in 2500 B.C. They also found a ditch cut out of the bedrock for the settlement that is most frequently associated with the Trojan War stories told in the Homeric epics (1800-1250 B.C.). The trench may have been a defense against chariots.

Another defensive structure -- a sizeable limestone fortification wall - protected the city in the classical period and has now been dated to the third century B.C.

Their work also suggests that that Troy, called Ilion by the Greeks and Ilium by the Romans, flourished from about 3200 B.C. until 1350 A.D. -- much longer than previously thought.

"What I'm especially proud of is that we have been able to reconstruct, for the first time, what life in the city was like during a period of roughly two thousand years, circa 1,000 B.C. to 1300 A.D.," Rose says.

Most of Rose's work at Troy has focused on the Greek and Roman periods. Romans believed that the stories of the Trojan War were true and reconstructed the city of Ilium where they believed the original Troy once sat.

The new excavations have shown that the Roman city was laid out on a grid of streets, with houses, water systems, a temple dedicated to Athena for religious feasts and sacrifices, a theater that provided a setting for Trojan tales and other plays to be performed, plus a council house for civic meetings.

The team worked in isolation and lack of luxury, complete with spare cabins, outdoor showers and temperatures reaching up to 120 degrees.

Rose earned a reputation as one of Troy's most dedicated workers, getting to the dig house between 5 and 5:50 a.m. and working until 7:30 or 8 at night.

The crucial find would be the Late Bronze Age cemetery in which the soldiers had been buried, Rose suggests. "Surely someday it will be found. The only question is will it be tomorrow or a hundred years from now." The Korfmann-Rose partnership has already helped to make that search more focused by finding ditches that helped to clarify the Bronze Age settlement's limits.

On to the big screen --

The Troy legend, in brief, holds that in about 1200 B.C., a prince of Troy kidnapped the queen of a Greek kingdom.

The Greeks then laid siege to Troy, but were only able to subdue it, after ten years of warfare, via trickery.

They built a large, hollow, wooden horse as a supposed gift to Athena, goddess of war, and then hid inside the horse.

The Trojans dragged the horse into their own city so that they themselves might possess this gift to Athena and thus accrue any benefits it might bring.

Later, at night, the Greeks snuck out of the horse’s belly and sacked the citadel.

The reality of Troy is a bit different, says Rose. Below is a roundup of some of the fact vs. fiction that we know about Troy, based on archeological evidence:

• Magnificent myth or historic happening?
There is no archaeological evidence that specifically buttresses Homer’s 8th-century B.C. version of a ten-year, Bronze Age conflict pitting Mycennaean Greeks against the Trojans (Troy is located in what is today northwestern Turkey) and ending in the fiery destruction of Troy.

Troy was often destroyed and rebuilt, subject as it was to raids and wars, due to its important – and accessible – coastal position controlling the straits between the Aegean and the Black seas, which probably allowed it to grow very rich from trade.

So, though we speak of one Trojan War, there were actually many.

And though we speak of Troy as a single entity, there were actually several settlements, each superimposed atop another over a span of time stretching to about 4,500 years.

Troy 1 was the smaller, simpler settlement from the early Bronze Age.

A later city built on the same site, Troy 6, is the one most frequently associated with what we refer to as The Trojan War.

Ironically enough, it’s likely that Homer did exactly what Hollywood is doing now; he took a fairly long and complex historical tradition of conflict, and he condensed it, made it simpler to understand and spiced it up with romance and rivalries.

• Man or myth: was Homer a real person?
Homer is believed to have been a blind Ionian poet, perhaps from Smyrna or the Island of Chios, who composed the story of the Iliad in about 730 B.C. and the Odyssey later, around 700 B.C., about six centuries after the events had supposedly occurred.

• Did Homer really compose the 24 books of "The Iliad" and later work, "The Odyssey", by himself?
He likely collected stories that had been recited by traveling bards for more than 500 years.

He’s actually part of an oral tradition of many poets reciting from memory; however, Homer probably repackaged, condensed and unified the stories of others.

• Was all the hullabaloo really caused by the abduction of Helen of Troy?
There is no archaeological evidence for this. Any Trojan War of the period might just as likely have been due to a rivalry between the Greeks and the Hittite empire in central Turkey for control of this strategically important location.

• Could the Greeks really have launched more than a thousand ships in an effort to conquer Troy?
No. The settlements of Greece during the late Bronze Age could not have mustered that kind of sea power.

• Would any siege really have lasted 10 years?
Possibly. During the Bronze Age (about 3000 to 1000 B.C.), Troy would have been well fortified, with large towers, heavily protected gates and limestone walls.

Because of the sophisticated fortifications that would have been found there – including defensive ditches – it would have been an extraordinarily difficult site to conquer.

So it seems likely that any ancient war there
-- including that described in the Iliad –- would have taken a long time.

• Did the war really end with a horse?
No. There’s no archaeological evidence for this, and its (the hollow horse) existence was doubted even by the ancient Greeks.

• Did the fall of Troy really lead to the founding of Rome?
No. Even though Virgil’s "Aeneid" states that Rome was founded by Aeneas, one of the few Trojan nobles to supposedly survive the 12th century B.C. fall of Troy, that’s impossible.

Rome was not founded until 400 years after the fall of Troy that is recounted by Homer. The Romans believed that the Trojan hero, Aeneas, and other refugees from that war settled in central Italy.

They further believed that it was two descendents of Aeneas –- Romulus and Remus –- who purportedly founded the city in 753 B.C.
Still, the connection with Troy was strong enough that the Romans turned Troy into something of an ancient world “tourist trap.”

Troy today – or rather the Turkish residents living near the site – have been taking advantage of tourist possibilities.

It's typically received hundreds of thousands of visitors annually over the last decade and now includes a walking
path through the site, a tourist information center and –-
what else? -- a 60-foot-high Trojan Horse.

Read more sci/tech news in the May 2004 issue of "Arte Six".

"Arte Six": May 2004: SCI/TECH: Get real: NASA astrophysicist vs. "Star Trek"

You know you've had days when you think "what does it take, a rocket scientist?".

Well, for once, yes, it DOES take a rocket scientist -- we tracked down a real, live astrophysicist to give us the lowdown on the science fact behind the science fiction...

“The Science of Star Trek”
by David Allen Batchelor

The creator of "Star Trek", Gene Roddenberry, actually knew some actual basic astronomy. He knew that space ships unable to go faster than light would take decades to reach the stars, and that would be too boring for a one-hour show per week. So he put warp drives into the show -- propulsion by distorting the space-time continuum. With warp drive the ships could reach far stars in hours or days, and the stories would fit human epic adventures, not stretch out for lifetimes.

Roddenberry tried to keep the stars realistically far, yet imagine human beings with the power to reach them.

Roddenberry and other writers added magic like the transporter and medical miracles and the holodeck, but they put these in as equipment, as powerful tools built by human engineers in a future of human progress. They uplifted our vision of what might be possible, and that's one reason the shows have been so popular.

The writers of the show are not scientists, though. Sometimes they get science details wrong. I'm a physicist, and many of my colleagues watch "Star Trek".

A few of them discredit "Star Trek" because of science errors in particular episodes. That's unfair. They watch Shakespeare without a complaint, and his plays wouldn't pass the same rigorous test. My opinion? "Star Trek" is actually intelligently written and more faithful to science than any other science fiction series I've ever seen.

Many of the star systems mentioned on the show, such as Wolf 359, really do exist. Usually, though, the writers just make them up.

So, what features of "Star Trek" can a scientist can enjoy without guilt, and what features justifiably tick off the critics?

What they got right: the ship's computer, impulse engines and matter-antimatter propulsion.

And "yeah, right": the transporter, warp drive and time travel.

Here's a list of standard "Star Trek" features, roughly in order of decreasing scientific credibility:

• The Ships Computer
• Matter-Antimatter Power Generation
• Impulse Engines
• Androids
• Alien Beings
• Sensors & Tricorders
• Deflector Shields, Tractor Beams & Artificial Gravity
• Subspace Communications
• Phasers
• Healing Rays
• Replicator
• Transporter
• Holodeck
• Universal Language Translator
• Warp Interstellar Drive
• Wormhole Interstellar Travel & Time Travel

What works? Well...

The Ship's Computer:
Most of the things it does are within the plausible realm of artificial intelligence that computer scientists anticipate.

We have auto-pilot functions and navigational systems today, and these are the most used functions of the Enterprise computer. Our computers even approach the ability to interpret spoken orders that the Enterprise computer has.

In 400 more years -- the time when "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is set -- it's reasonable to expect many of the abilities of this computer to really be achieved.

Matter-Antimatter Power Generation:
This is one of the best scientific features of "Star Trek".

The mixing of matter and antimatter is almost certainly the most efficient kind of power source that a starship could use, and the way it's described is reasonably correct -- the antimatter (frozen anti-hydrogen) is handled with magnetic fields, and never allowed to touch normal matter, or KA-BOOM! This much is real physics.

The dilithium crystals part -- that's just imaginary.

Impulse Engines:
These are rocket engines based on the fusion reaction. We don't have the technology for them yet, but they are within the bounds of real, possible future engineering.

One of the most important research organization for robotics out there is the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

At a conference on cybernetics, the president of the association was asked what his ultimate goal was, in that particular field of technology. He replied, "Lieutenant Commander Data."

Creating Mr. Data would be an historic feat of cybernetics, and right now it's debatable, whether or not it could be accomplished. Maybe a self-aware computer could be put into a human-sized body and convinced to live sociably with us and our limitations. That's a long way ahead of our computer technology, but not impossible.

By the way, Mr. Data's "positronic" brain circuits are named for the circuits that Dr. Isaac Asimov imagined for his fictional robots.

Our doctors can use positrons to make images of our brains or other organs, but there's no reason to expect that positrons could make especially good artificial brains. Positrons are antimatter!

Dr. Asimov just made up a sophisticated-sounding prop, but he never expected people to take it literally.

Alien Beings:
Most scientists now agree that life probably exists in other solar systems, now that we understand biochemistry a little. The chemical elements for carbon-based life like the lifeforms on Earth are common in the universe, so maybe lifeforms like ourselves exist elsewhere in the galaxy. We can imagine all kinds of intelligent creatures, with any number of arms, legs, eyes, or antennae -- maybe a lot smarter than we are.

It seems doubtful that humanoid shapes would be as common as the alien races on the "Star Trek" shows, though. Well, we have to allow the show some concessions to the shapes of available actors.

Could half-human/half-alien hybrids ever exist, like Mr. Spock? It seems almost impossible, but with recombinant DNA, our scientists have already created interspecies hybrids. Mr. Spock is not totally beyond biochemical reality, but definitely at the edge.

Sensors & Tricorders:
We have vibration sensors, sonar, radar, laser ranging, various kinds of light wavelength detectors and energetic particle detectors, and gravimeters. We also do a little three-dimensional imaging of the interiors of solid objects, like the human body, with magnetic fields and radioactivity detectors. The sensors and tricorders on "Star Trek" are quite different and more revealing as plot devices than anything we have.

But with a stretch of the imagination, the tricorder scan could have today's magnetic resonance imager as its ancestor. The Enterprise's sensors must use the more advanced (and imaginary) "subspace fields," when it detects far-away objects in space, because the crew never has to wait for signals to travel to a target and return. Not all of the sensors on the show are possible.

Deflector Shields, Tractor Beams & Artificial Gravity:
We know how to deflect electrically charged objects using electromagnetic fields, and there are concepts for protecting space travelers from cosmic radiation this way.

That's the only physics trick we know that resembles the powerful special effects of the Enterprise shields. We can also make big magnets that have some respectable attraction, and with the right electronic circuits regulating the strength of the magnets, we can imagine towing some kinds of metal objects through space.

A beam that is projected at something to attract it is purely imaginary. We don't have any way to create artificial gravity either. Generating artificial graviton particles is imaginable, but there's no way to say how it might be done. Not yet.

Subspace Communications:
Mathematicians discovered the concept of a subspace within a space continuum decades ago, and science fiction writers appropriated the term to serve their needs for a super-advanced way to reach other points in space, time or "other" universes.

The concept is alive in physics today, in theories that our space-time may have eleven or more dimensions -- three space dimensions and time, plus seven more that are "curled up" within a tiny sub-atomic size scale, where they conveniently explain mysteries of the forces of physics.

But "Star Trek" uses its own unrelated version of subspace, with signals that can travel as fast as the fastest starship. This is just a convenient notion to get messages to Star Fleet and back by the end of a TV show, with no realistic physics behind it.

According to the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" technical manual, phasers are named for PHASed Energy Rectification. They are really just spectacular energy blasters, with no detailed physics explanation.

The original concept was that they were the next technological improvement upon LASERs. To the extent that they differ from LASERs, they are just fanciful props, descended from generations of blasters discussed in early science fiction.

Healing Rays:
"Star Trek: TNG" medic Dr. Crusher shines a healing ray on her wounded patients and the skin or bone heals immediately. That's just a magical medical miracle of the imaginary 24th century.

Surgeons today do work with lasers to cauterize or seal some tissues, and repair detached retinas. Some dentists use them, too.

Also, there is actually a form of adhesive that can stick human cells together like Elmer's Glue (tm), and synthetic skin for temporarily protecting wounds. But the body's own healing is usually as fast as any other method.

On the other hand, there's some evidence that weak electric currents can accelerate the healing of bones, so something similar to Dr. Crusher's procedure could be possible in the future.

Today, we know how to create microchip circuits and experimental nanometer-scale objects by "drawing" them on a surface with a beam of atoms. We can also suspend single atoms or small numbers of atoms within a trap made of electromagnetic fields, and experiment on them.

That's as close as the replicator is to reality. Making solid matter from a pattern as the replicator appears to do, is pretty far beyond present physics.

We don't have a clue about how to really build a device like the transporter. It uses a beam that is radiated from point A to point B where it STOPS at just the right precise place -- even passing through some barriers along the way -- and reconstructs the person it carries on the spot.

Or it captures a person's pattern, dematerializing him or her, and brings the person to some other point.

All of the rematerialized atoms and molecules are somehow in the precisely correct positions, with the right temperatures and adhering together just as if the transportee had not been dematerialized. Rematerializing, why doesn't everything fall to pieces if a gust of wind or just normal gravity disturb the reappearing atoms? Nothing in the physics of today gives a hint about how that might be possible.

Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." But we can't assume every magical feat could be accomplished, given sufficiently advanced technology.

The same applies to this one. Holograms are apparent images with three dimensional structure. We can't imagine a way to assemble matter in the same way as the light in a hologram.

Universal Language Translator:
As this is used on the "Star Trek" shows, it's just an automagical device to enable characters to get through the stories.

It would be too tedious and repetitious in a
one-hour show for the characters to overcome real language barriers in a realistic manner in every show. The way the Enterprise crew can encounter an alien spacecraft, "hail them on standard frequencies," and establish instant telecommunications on their viewscreens is just a preposterous shortcut to keep the plot from faltering.

Warp Interstellar Drive:
This must be the crowning achievement of Federation technology! Despite its fundamental role in the show's plot, it violates known physics to an extent that can't be defended.

The detailed explanation of the warp field effect in the "Star Trek: TNG" technical manual only raises more questions than it resolves. It's said to involve huge discharges of energy and subspace fields that aren't understood in today's science.

However, barring a very unlikely demolition of Einstein's theory by future, revolutionary discoveries in quantum physics, warp drive can't exist. Physicists of today understand the space-time continuum rather well, and there is very good reason to think that no object can move faster than the speed of light.

Wormhole Interstellar Travel & Time Travel:
These are questionable consequences of some mathematical models for extremely bizarre, artificial arrangements of titanic super-massive objects -- untested imaginary models where Einstein's relativity theory is stretched to its ultimate limits.

We don't have any evidence that Einstein's theory is valid in these theoretical cases, and the arrangements of these giant spinning masses don't occur in nature.

The bottom line: "Star Trek" science is an entertaining combination of real science, imaginary science gathered from lots of earlier stories, and stuff the writers just made up, to give each new episode a bit of novelty.

The real science is an effort to be faithful to humanity's greatest achievements, and the fanciful science is a playing field for a game that expands the mind. The "Star Trek" series are the only science fiction series crafted with respect for real science and intelligent writing. That's why it's the only science fiction series that many scientists watch regularly . . . like me.
Bio: David Allen Batchelor, Ph.D.is an astrophysicist/IT project manager/Aerospace technologist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Read more sci/tech news in the May 2004 issue of "Arte Six".


"Arte Six": May 2004: THEATRE: "Brujalicious"

May 12, 11pm

Just in time for the witching hour, spoken-word artist Caridad De La Luz a.k.a. La Bruja ("The Witch") takes the stage for an evening of music and slam poetry.

Flipping virtuosic rhymes with hip-hop beats, La Bruja taps the power of art and positivity to transform sorrow into strength, ignorance into love, and hurt into hope:

“Bruja” is Spanish for “witch”
the spiritualist
Having moolah doesn’t always make you rich
Got food for your medulla — quick, grab a dish
I stay true to my gifts to uplift
Made a niche
Made a switch,
Skipped from getting WIC
To getting Merrill Lynch...

Thought of slitting my wrist
Experience is a bitch
But it was worth the trip
Through my roots I healed wounds without a stitch
Took risks, pulled tricks,
smoothed out the glitch
Found my heritage
Don’t sweat that shit
Your darkest hour is just
an eclipse...
- "Bru Who", La Bruja
Artist bio: Since her auspicious spoken-word debut at the Nuyorican Poets Café in 1996,La Bruja has appeared on "Russell Simmons’ Presents Def Poetry" for HBO and been a featured poet at the “Women Like This” hip-hop festival in Switzerland.

La Bruja is the author of the one-woman comedy show "Boogie Rican Blvd." She made her major motion picture debut as Cuca in Spike Lee’s 2000 film "Bamboozled", in which, known to Lee as an accomplished poet, she was allowed to improvise her own lines.

Find it: Joe's Pub - Joseph Papp Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street (between East 4th Street/Astor Place)
Get info: (212) 539-8778

Read more theatre news in the May 2004 issue of "Arte Six".

"Arte Six - May 2004": Quick Hits: THEATRE: "Shut Eye"

“Shut Eye”
May 5-8
Culturally speaking, the theme of “what is reality?” has been explored so often in books, dance, music, theatre (not to mention film) that we might as well declare an international AltReality Day.

That way, we can all order a side order of “the color blue singing” with our cheeseburger-to-go at least one day out of the year.

Strangely enough, it’s the works that take a more hesitant step across the threshold of “what if?” that are actually more intriguing than a nosedive into the other side.

In “Shut Eye”, The Pig Iron Theatre Company explores what happens (if anything) when an accidental misstep takes you into a world that isn’t wholly new, just slightly...askew.

An odd, tightly choreographed series of vignettes, “Shut Eye” introduces us to a pair of newlyweds who fall asleep at their dinner table; an insomniac who finds herself trapped in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, and a woman who visits her brother in the coma ward, only to find him absorbed in a business meeting. Can you really be dreaming, when you’re wide awake?

Absurd but strangely affecting, “Shut Eye” takes the audience along to the quicksilver spot in time where surreality only makes sense because you’ve accepted the possibility that temporary illogic is the only logic you can use to translate the experience. Yes. Like that. Pig Iron call themselves a “dance-clown-theatre ensemble”, and they might actually be right.

“Shut Eye” is the answer to the question you ask while you’ve been drowsing off in the sun, only to wake up just enough to ask “am I awake?”.

Yes. But no. Never mind, go back to a half-sleep, where it all makes a strange kind of sense.
Find it: DTW - Dance Theater Workshop
219 W. 19th Street
New York NY, 10011
Get info: (212) 691-6500
Box office: (212) 924-0077

Read more dance + theatre news in the May 2004 issue of "Arte Six".

"Arte Six - May 2004": Quick Hits: ART: "L.A. Woman"

"L.A. Woman"
Through May 23rd
Gallery C presents “L.A. Woman”, a selection of works by contemporary artists and “visual thinkers” Jill Giegerich, Becky Guttin, Lisa Adams, Kim McCarty and Meg Cranston.

Among the most interesting works is Meg Cranston's “Magical Death”, a life-sized piñata of a woman, using painted papier-mâché. Like quilting, papier-mâché is generally relegated to the category of ‘craft’, rather than art – materials are used in a utilitarian way, and linked to social interaction between women.

The piñata is usually filled with gifts, which can only be accessed by participants, after the piñata is broken.

Sculptor Becky Guttin takes a different route to commenting on human experience, by using
industrial waste materials to create new works. The materials no longer have value, in one sense, but they’re vital as material used to capture an artist’s vision.

Her work explores the cultural and spiritual value in tools that have been abandoned, but are now newly formed, asking us to see beauty in common or ‘valueless’ materials.

Kim McCarty explores the visual representation of longing, in a series of watercolors, while Lisa Adams comments on trends in politics and pop culture, creating iconic modern signifiers to represent contemporary myths.
Find it: Gallery C
1225 Hermosa Beach Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
Get info: (310) 798-0102

Read more art news in the May 2004 issue of "Arte Six".