Disaster movie weekend

CHANGSHA, CHINA — Unlike my last trip to the vicinity of Changsha, this one was not fraught with peril. The disasters were limited to the movies I watched. Our bus screened two mega-disaster movies, the American 2012 and the Thai copycat version 2022: The Great Tsunami. (It goes without saying both were pirated copies.) And, before I fell asleep in my hotel Saturday night, I watched that classic star-studded extravaganza, The Towering Inferno, with dialogue dubbed into Chinese, of course. Disaster movies are just really stupid, you know? It makes no difference when or where they are made. They’re just mindless entertainment. Let’s start with Roland Emmerich’s 2012. As soon as heard the Important Scientist announce ominously that a massive solar flare had sent a storm of neutrinos toward Earth, and these neutrinos for the first time ever (Now with new cleaning power!) were interacting with matter, I knew the rest of the movie would be, scientifically, a stinker. I was not disappointed. Physics mini-lesson: Yes, the Sun produces neutrinos. Lots of neutrinos. They are a product of nuclear fusion, the gift that keeps on giving us heat and light from that yellow ball in the sky. The sun has ...
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