Genre: Documentary, short film
Synopsis: Funded by the National Science Foundation through the University of Mississippi, LIGO Generations shares the passion and the motivation of individuals who have worked for nearly three decades on a single science experiment. We engage in the stories of those who motivated a new branch of physics in order to prove the last piece of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and to hear the universe in a new way. In Generations we learn how knowledge is passed from generation to generation outside of the shared documents and official channels of communication, through hard work, respect, and dedication.
Set to Louisiana jazz and blues, Generations opens in a nearby galaxy where we witness three cataclysmic events before returning to our home galaxy and solar system — only to ride onto the LIGO campus on a Harley Davidson. In closing, Generations takes us to the LIGO Science Education Center where we engage the next generation of learners who are discovering new ways of seeing the world, for the very first time. This 25 minute film premiered at Space.com on January 30, 2015.
Read “Detecting Ripples in Space-Time, with a Little Help from Einstein” by Kai Staats and astrophysicist Marco Cavaglia and “Swamps, Simulations and Mad Drone Skills” about the making of this film.
Feedback for the Film
“This was enjoyable to watch, at least for me! I particularly liked Rai’s and Gaby’s stylized whirlwind g-wave tutorials … this file will be effective in luring a future generation into our enterprise. It’s also great that you were able to spend so much time with the outreach activities.” –Joe Gaime, LIGO Livingston Observatory Head
“I love it, I think it presents scientists as passionate humans of all ages and colors, and it is a great homage to outreach and the SEC. The combination of music and images in the beginning, end, and in the interlude between LIGO proper and the SEC are just wonderfully magical -THANK YOU!” –Gabriela Gonzalez, Spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration
“The film is great. It is ‘lively’ … Very informative too. Got me wanting to visit and see the center in real life. Well done! :) –Dinneo Rammala, undergraduate in Astro Physics, UKZN, Durban, South Africa
“Loved the animations. Especially the two [neutron stars] in a close and highly eccentric orbit right at the start … Best explanation of how LIGO generates interference patterns I’ve seen to date, not oversimplified but totally understandable to anyone with a modicum of science background. Also liked the scene where the scientists talked about what brought them to LIGO. We need more scientists like that, who can speak engagingly about why they do science. Well done sir,” –Dan Heim, retired physics professor
“I just watched ‘LIGO Generations’ and wanted to tell someone how good I thought it is. It captures the spirit of scientific adventure, the fun of people doing research at the frontier, and the role of education in informing citizens of the future. It was especially fun to watch Rai at work, and [Gaby’s] handwaving made into cosmic-scale dynamical images.” –Richard Isaacson, retired National Science Foundation Program Officer
“You have done a wonderful thing! You have captured the thread that goes through the generations- right through to the transitions that take place in real time at the outreach center. Congratulations,” –Rainer Weiss, Founding LIGO Physicist