MARIANO TOMATIS

WONDER INJECTOR

Italian writer and magician
working for a better Rule #34:
«If it exists, there is magic of it.
If not, let’s make it!»

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 2014 (36)

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WHAT IS SCI FOO?

Science Foo Camp (or “Sci Foo”) is an invitation-only gathering organized by Digital Science, O'Reilly Media, and Google, with support from Nature. The 9th edition of Sci Foo takes place on 8-10 August 2014 at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. Lord Martin Rees has defined it as “a sort of mini Woodstock of the Mind”. Participants include researchers, writers, educators, artists, policy makers, investors, and other thought leaders, all doing groundbreaking work in diverse areas of science and technology.

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Airplanes & Miracles

You’re sitting in a chair in the sky!

Posted on thursday 7 august 2014, 1 days before scifoo14 • Written by Mariano Tomatis

Eve of the SciFoo14 on the plane: a good occasion to sharpen the ability of realizing the miracles in which we are immersed — too often taken for granted. Alain De Botton comments on the effect that such an experience would have had on classical painters like Nicolas Poussin:

No one thinks it remarkable that somewhere above an ocean we flew past a vast white candy-floss island which would have made a perfect seat for an angel or even God himself in a painting by Piero della Francesca. In the cabin, no one stands up to announce with requisite emphasis that, out of the window, we are flying over a cloud, a matter than would have detained Leonardo and Poussin, Claude and Constable. (1)

Nicolas Poussin, “Hercule au jardin des Hespérides” (detail).

Louis C.K.’s whipping irony is another perfect guide to the re-enchantment of the flight. During one of his routines, the American comedian mocks the ungrateful who complain of occasional inconveniences on airplane flights:

They’re like: “It was the worst day of my life. First of all we didn’t board for 20 minutes and then we get on the plane and they made us sit there on the runway for forty minutes! We had to sit there.” Oh really? What happened next? Did you fly through the air incredibly like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, you non-contributing zero? Wow, you’re flying! It’s amazing! Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going: “Oh my God, wow!” You’re flying, you’re... you’re sitting in a chair in the sky! But it doesn’t go back a lot. And it smells really. You know, here’s the thing. People like they say there’s delays on flights, delays really New York to California in 5 hours. That used to take 30 years to do that and a bunch of you would die on the way there and have a baby! (2)

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(1) Alain De Botton, The Art of Travel, Hamish Hamilton, London 2002.

(2) Louis C. K., “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy”. Many thanks to my co-author Ferdinando Buscema who signaled me this video.

You could be interested also in:

Technological magic: the short story of Google Mind

Artificial paradises from Hasan-i Sabbah to Silicon Valley

Alexander and his magic tricks in the 2nd century

Forbidden apples and musical bubbles in the art of Charlotte Jarvis