From firecrackers to nuclear bombs, it is only recently that scientists are beginning to understand the complexities of explosions, and many of our big discoveries were more by mistake than design.
Isaac Asimov would probably have been horrified at the experiments under way in a robotics lab in Slovenia.
There, a powerful robot has been hitting people over and over again in a bid to induce anything from mild to unbearable pain – in apparent defiance of the late sci-fi sage's famed first law of robotics, which states that "a robot may not injure a human being".
But the robo-battering is all in a good cause, insists Borut Povše, who has ethical approval for the work from the University of Ljubljana, where he conducted the research. He has persuaded six male colleagues to let a powerful industrial robot repeatedly strike them on the arm, to assess human-robot pain thresholds.
I find myself re-watching C’etait Un Rendezvous at least once a year for various reasons. Today it’s because of an idea I had last night.
In Rendezvous a film camera was strapped to the front bumper of a Mercedes and the film’s director, Claude Lelouch, drove it at speed through early morning Paris, ending up at Montmartre. My idea is that, as camera equipment has become so much lighter over the years, you could fasten a camera to a bike and, starting where the original ended, do a similarly mad early morning ride. There’s no way it could follow the same route, so it would have to finish at a landmark, ideally the Eiffel tower or at least the banks of the Seine with a view of the tower. I’ve only visited the city once, off the top of my head I can’t come up with an exact route.
Then my idea expanded a touch. Several manufacturers, such as Panasonic, are releasing 3D capable consumer video cameras. Wouldn’t shooting such a film with one of their cameras make for a great promo. I may have to put together a proposal.
I’d need a middle weight full suspension mountain bike- it wouldn’t have to be as tough as a full on downhiller- and a pro or semi-pro downhill rider to ride it, an apartment near the start point for a few weeks to use as the base of operations, and a 3D telly to watch the rushes on. And maybe their legal department, but I’d try to avoid that. Paris isn’t that hilly a city, but it’s where you’d want to film if it was to be a proper homage. Other ideas were to shoot it in Edinburgh or San Francisco. I’m sure there are other hilly cities.
And, because there’s no way I could mention it without including it, here’s C’etait Un Rendezvous-