Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Space, Ebola, volcanoes, stroke, and human expansion the topics of Science and Technology Documentary nominees

"Stay tuned for Science and Technology Documentary nominees tomorrow" was my closing for 'Sonic Sea,' a triple nominee, and its competitors.  It's tomorrow, so it's time to examine the competitors in this category.

In alphabetical order, the first nominee is "A Year in Space" from PBS.

On March 27, 2015, astronaut Scott Kelly began a historic year in space. Follow Scott and his identical twin Mark Kelly as the two-part program tells the story of what it takes, mentally and physically, to spend a year in space.
I blogged about Scott and Mark Kelly's twin experiment in Twins on Earth and Space.  That was three years ago.  It's about time I followed up!

Speaking of following up, Time Magazine, which co-produced this documentary, announced that a "second installment, Beyond a Year in Space, will air this fall on PBS.  Here's to it being nominated for an Emmy next year.  If so, I'm looking forward to blogging about it.

Follow over the jump for the other four nominees.

I made an observation and a promise yesterday.
There are three programs about Ebola nominated this year.  I could have made an entire post about The Red Death!  Instead, I promise I'll get to all of them before the winners are announced.
I was wrong; there really are four, as all three episodes of HBO's "Ebola Trilogy" were nominated separately.  Added to "Spillover--Zika, Ebola & Beyond" and that makes four.  Here is the trailer for all of the "Ebola Trilogy" from HBO.

A special presentation of three films on one night.  “Ebola: The Doctors’ Story,” “Body Team 12,” and “Orphans of Ebola” premiere March 14 on HBO.
This trailer won't have to serve as the video introduction to all three episodes; “Body Team 12,” which was nominated for an Academy Award, has its own.  “Orphans of Ebola” doesn't seem to have one on YouTube.

One of my geology students asked me about "Into the Inferno" earlier this year.  I hadn't heard about it, but I looked it up, read the description, and told the student that I would approve it for viewing as extra credit.  I decided that the science was good enough.  Obviously, so did the members of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which administers the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  That written, it is about more than science.  Watch the trailer from Netflix to see that.

The fury of nature exposes us all. Werner Herzog's Netflix Original Documentary Into the Inferno is now Streaming on Netflix.
About Into the Inferno:
Werner Herzog's latest documentary, Into the Inferno, heads just where its title suggests: into the red-hot magma-filled craters of some of the world's most active and astonishing volcanoes—taking the filmmaker on one of the most extreme tours of his long career. From North Korea to Ethiopia to Iceland to the Vanuatu Archipelago, humans have created narratives to make sense of volcanoes; as stated by Herzog, “volcanoes could not care less what we are doing up here.” Into the Inferno teams Herzog with esteemed volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer to offer not only an in-depth exploration of volcanoes across the globe but also an examination of the belief systems that human beings have created around the fiery phenomena.

Herzog and Oppenheimer first met ten years ago on the slopes of the Mount Erebus volcano in Antarctica during the filming of Encounters at the End of the World. Their newest film never stops moving, never stops seeking. We see Oppenheimer in Indonesia at Lake Toba, which 74,000 years ago was the site of one of the most massive eruptions known to man. Oppenheimer and Herzog travel to Mount Sinabung, where they narrowly escape a deadly eruption, and then visit Mount Merapi on Java, one of Indonesia’s most sacred volcanoes. They travel to the hottest desert on earth in Ethiopia, to Iceland, and perhaps most amazingly to the center of North Korea. Throughout, they investigate the wildly imaginative and wildly diverse stories that people have told about the presence and meaning of volcanoes. There is Mount Paektu in North Korea, for example, venerated by the current regime as a birthplace of the Korean nation and the revolution. There is the Codex Regius, Iceland's most precious possession, an ancient text that tells of a tenth-century volcanic eruption. Into the Inferno is vintage Herzog, offering extraordinary locales, outrĂ© characters, improbable stories and, through it all, a chance to go deep inside a mesmerizing subject and emerge with new understanding.
In this film, Werner Herzog does exactly what I do when I lecture about volcanoes and their effects on people; he just reverses the emphasis.  I tell stories about the supernatural awe and dread volcanoes and volcanic features inspire in people to make my lectures more interesting, but they're still science lectures.  Among the tales I tell are the battle between Pele and Maui that created the Hawaiian Islands, the curse of Pele's hair, the fight between the wizard Mazama and a demon that created Crater Lake, Shiprock as the holy site and capital of the Navajo, and various stories about Devil's Tower, including "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."  I credit and blame my time as a National Park Ranger for many of those stories, but that's fine with me, as my students seem to like them.  In contrast, Herzog seems more interested in the human response and less in the science.  I'm O.K. with that; it's his film and I will still recommend my students watch it.

Warner Herzog isn't alone in being a well-known director whose work is nominated in this category.  David Lynch is one of the stars of "My Beautiful Broken Brain" and its executive producer, and his star power might improve its chances.  Here's its trailer, also from Netflix.

A stroke stripped her of the skills she needs to function. This documentary captures the strange new world she inhabits, teeming with color and sound.
This film has already won a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound & Music Editing: Television; Documentary Long Form, so I'm surprised it wasn't nominated along with "Sonic Sea" for Outstanding Music and Sound as well.

The final nominee and the second from PBS is the Nova episode "Great Human Odyssey."  Here is its trailer.

Follow our ancient ancestors’ footsteps out of Africa and into every corner of our planet.
With this nominee and its trailer, I have managed to return to human exploration, part of the topic of "A Year in Space."  I've closed a circle, something I don't do often enough in my posts.

Good luck to all the nominees.  Stay tuned for the nominees in Outstanding Science, Medical and Environmental Report tomorrow.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Ever wanted to have your off topic spam deleted?

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Quantum binary signals might be on topic, but I'm tired of it, so I'm deleting this spam.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.