Friday, 18 February 2011

The Professor's Speech

The other day the movie "The High and the Mighty", 1954 was on TV (I love Film 4 and TCM). I didn't pay much attention to it, just enough to realise that it must have been one the fist 'disaster' Hollywood movies, playing on the newness of commercial airlines appeal back in the 50's. The funny thing about this movie is how many 'characters' they manage to squeeze onto the plane, each getting his/her own speech time to hopefully get you to care whether they live or die on this supposedly doomed flight.
To cut a long story short (I still haven't watched the whole movie) I was struck by the Professor's story. Check out his speech to fellow scientists, obviously involved in the testing of atomic missiles. Watching the original clip it's easy to make fun of the overly dramatic acting and melo-dramatic music but the thought of global destruction was many peoples minds.
Science as a study of nature is all well and good, but it's what you do with the knowledge that counts. I hope you find something interesting about the Professor's dilemma from these clips (there isn't a video clip available to share, but I found it better to read it than have the overly dramatic music in the background).

Prof. Flaherty. Welcome.
Are we to believe you are at last resolved to abandon the arts and return to science?
If so, we rejoice.
We have sorely missed your help, and advice.
You're doing all right.
You'll find out how to blow up the world all by your little selves.
It won't be long now and blooie. Congratulations.
Professor, we all appreciate the fact that you've been under enormous strain.
We deeply regret that a man of your calibre no longer sees fit to cooperate with us.
I had a seat on a nice little campus even if I wasn't making much money, or my students didn't know what I was talking about.  And I played pretty good golf and I slept nights.
I was happy because I figured it was still God's business to monkey around with the universe.
He can fix a star so it'll burn for a billion years.
Keep going and you'll find out how to burn one up in a minute.
Did any of you ever bother to look at the lagoon out there?
It's beautiful and blue, and the people around it are brown and kind and they did know how to laugh and sing. Only now all the fishes in the lagoon are dead.
And the people are scared forever. They don't sing anymore.
You found a way to blow out a window 65 miles away from the impact point.
Only, suppose there's a mother standing in that window with a baby in her arms?
Professor, I suggest you go to your tent and rest for a while.
I'll arrange transport back to the States for you at the earliest possible moment.
Yeah, do that.
I want to find a shepherd in the hills or a mountain in the mist, and paint their picture, before it's too late.