HUBBLE: 15 Years of Discovery - DVD
Almost a year ago, I sent away for a free copy of the Hubble DVD for our club to watch. To be quite honest, I'd had forgotten all about it. Today on my desk was an envelope from the United Nations Vienna International Centre. To be quite honest again, I don't get all that much mail from the United Nations. Inside was our disc. The date on the disk shows it to be mastered in September of 2005, and the included brochure says they gave out half a million of these things, so I'm not complaining about the time it took to receive it.
THE GOOD NEWS: FREE!
THE BAD NEWS (for USA and Canada): PAL encoded.
TVs have different resolutions all over the world. North America use NTSC, Europe uses PAL (a higher resolution format), and Eastern Europe uses SECAM. This means that your American TV (and maybe your DVD player) will not display this disc. The solution to this is watch this DVD on a Projector or a computer. Video projectors are made for worldwide markets, so they generally display anything you throw at them. The software package PowerDVD plays anything you feed it too, so we have a match made in heaven.
The DVD has no region coding protection (it plays in any region of the world), and it has no copyright protection system (that means you can make back up copies without having to "crack" the disc. It also means you could copy this onto a video tape without the color bar nonsense).
The movie is in PCM stereo, no surround or center channel is used. I know it was free, but I wanted to hear what space sounds like in surround sound.
THE MOVIE ITSELF:
The movie is presented by Bob Fosbury. It moves along at a quick pace, each chapter digs a little deeper into discoveries that we would have never made without the Hubble.
The DVD is just technical enough to be enjoyed by an astronomer, but flashy and fun enough to keep the civilians entertained. Kids are going to need to be in middle school or higher to grasp much of this material.
Sometimes I wanted more detail. For instance, I wanted to SEE what the corrective optic for the Hubble looked like! They talk enough about it, why not show it?
The overall presentation of subjects is really great. The chapter on Gravitational Lensing is the best layman's example I've ever seen. This alone is worth the price of admission.
The movie plays for a seemingly quick 83 minutes, and is playable in no less than 15 languages. I'm going to give something away at the showing for anyone who can name them all on the beginning menu.
Finally, there is 50 minutes of bonus material. This is where the "Euro" influence of this disc can really be felt. I am not going to encourage any USA citizen to partake in any recreational drug use (they are legal or "decriminalized" in the rest of the civilized world), but much of the footage (especally Klemperer's Dream) may give you flashbacks to your university days. Incredible high resolution simulations of galaxies combining, all to the drone of Ambient Techno music. UMMV.
This is a really great disc. Worth showing at any club or public outreach event. Before I watched it, I could not wait for us to crash the Hubble into the atmosphere and burn it up. Now, I really want to keep it around for another 15 years.
Want your own free copy? Email a clear request to OOSA (Office for Outer Space Affairs) at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(please allow 2 to 52 weeks for shipping and handling)
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