Stephen Hawking floating in zero gravity

This short film makes complex astrophysics as lightweight as Hawking on the Vomit Comet.

It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Tonight’s selection is Stephen Hawking’s Big Ideas … Made Simple from The Guardian and Alok Jha.

No time to read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time? In just two and a half minutes, Alok Jha explains why black holes are doomed to shrink into nothingness then explode with the energy of a million nuclear bombs, and rewinds to the big bang and the origin of the universe?

Jha is a science correspondent at The Guardian and presents their Science Weekly podcast — which I didn’t know existed till I discovered this animation and looked for more by the creator. The most recent podcast is about the 2014 Longitude Prize.

Bonus: I love animation, but I can’t disagree with a bit of the backlash against the overuse of CGI (computer-generated imagery) in film. Especially when it leads to exciting projects like Lessons Learned, the new film from Toby Froud (the baby from Labyrinth and son of two great fantasy illustrators, Brian and Wendy Froud) and Jim Henson’s daughter, Heather Henson. From Portland Monthly:

Lessons Learned screened as part of three puppet shorts produced by Heather Henson’s company, Ibex Puppetry, for its Handmade Puppet Dreams film series. It’s worth noting that the second short, Melvin the Birder, was a charming paper cutout work also created by Portlanders, Beady Little Eyes Productions, about a birder’s quest to photograph the elusive Mustard Billed Wood-pecking Belly Wiggler.

But the centerpiece was Lessons Learned, a 15-minute tale about a boy whose grandfather gives him a ‘lessons learned’ box, a physical receptacle of sorts to collect all the things he learns in his life. The curious boy can’t help but look inside his grandfather’s box (now a trunk), only to be pulled into a musty storage room where his grandfather’s lessons (e.g. ‘when it rains, it pours’) are catalogued in boxes that come alive when the boy reads them. The boy eventually ends up in another world of stone spires and swirling mists, where he confronts Time and Fate as embodied by an old grey man and a female spider who is knitting the course of time, before his grandfather pulls him out.

You should watch the trailer, but hopefully there will be a more accessible way to watch these films soon — and perhaps even a feature-length work from the Froud/Henson superteam? “Kickstarter calling …”

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Public domain image of zero-gravity Hawking by Jim Campbell/Aero-News Network via Wikimedia Commons.

Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and