# Speculation on 'Contact' - Design Impact of Chair

#### Bill Catherall

##### Screenwriter
Irrelevant, since the magnetic force acting on the low mass needle is obviously well over 100 newtons. It would definitely move.
If Ellie swallowed that compass and the force on the needle was 1000 Newtons, would it lift her up and smash her against the walls? How strong of a magnetic field are we talking about that will create a force of 100 N on a compass needle? The attraction/repulsion force between two magnetic bodies is related to the strength of the magnetic field of each body. Since a compass needle has such a weak magnetic field, the other magnet would have to be extremely powerful. I'm not saying it's not possible. Afterall, the machine was pulling in the control boat. So it was a pretty strong magnet.
So wouldn't Ellie's headset have also come off since there are magnets in the speakers?
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Bill

#### RicP

##### Screenwriter
quote: Irrelevant, since the magnetic force acting on the low mass needle is obviously well over 100 newtons. It would definitely move.[/quote]Move? or Smash into the wall? Because the fact that the compass is moving is NOT under discussion here, anyone watching the film can plainly see that the compass is MOVING. However the question of the member was "So why if its a magnetic field that flings the chair against the ceiling does the thing just float along without a care in the world?" And the asnwer of course is that the compass IS AFFECTED by the magnetic field (as can plainly be seen by the spinning needle), but most obviously not to the extent that the metal chair is. If you are in any way trying to insinuate that the PLASTIC COMPASS would fly against the wall because of the minute amount of metal in the needle, you are completely mistaken. If there were that much force being applied the needle would have snapped off of the compass, ripped through the plastic casing and right into the wall. In addition every single metallic item in that sphere would have done the same thing. This obviously did not happen and if you cannot see why, then this point is beyond your grasp and it's silly to go on. Please see Mr. Catherall's comments all throught this thread which I noticed you've quietly tried to avoid.
quote: But I can see that this is another case of "dammit, I will not let you prove me wrong", so I'm not going to debate it any more with you.[/quote] People that live in Glass houses Robert...And what a weasley way of "getting the last word" Have it your way. You are completely wrong.

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http://www.ricperrott.com
Ric Perrott - My DVD's
[Edited last by RicP on August 24, 2001 at 11:17 PM]

#### Clark Rozier

##### Agent
On the chair issue, I agree with MickeS.
That's exactly what I thought. The original design didn't have the chair.
By the way, Jodie Foster's character was named Ellie Arroway. (Just a nit pick)

Clark

#### Danny R

##### Supporting Actor
"God" is a vague term, even when you capitalize it
No problems there. However any being able to create their own universe and define its laws and properties at the most fundamental level is pretty much de facto a God by almost every definition, at least as far as humanity's current technological level is concerned. Its the old premise of magic being indistinguishable from advanced technology. If the universe was designed, it doesn't matter if its by aliens or God... the fact is that they created us, therefore they fit the bill. The specifics can be left up to each denomination.

As I recall, at the very end of the book, they find the thing with pi, it is not "shown", certainly not by the ETs
Right, however the ET's told them where to look.
While the thing with pi might convince most, I'm not sure it would pass muster with mathematicians (lots in digits in pi)
True, the circle in a circle could be a random fluke... but the ET's said that further messages existed. Once they were found then a more obvious proof could be had.
Although I guess a mathmatician could prove that a million monkeys pounding on the keyboards of the universe created that shakespearian play in the middle of a transendental number.

Even if you accept it as proof of design, that does not then prove the existence of the monotheistic God that's currently popular here on Earth (back to the first point) -- how about design by committee?
Again no problem with that. I think the point being that any all powerful being or beings showing proof that they exist would be quite an event.
Sagan's point and the purpose of the book (as I see it) was simply to ask: if God (or a pantheon of such) exist, why isn't there more tangable proof of such.
Or perhaps there is, and we just have to wait till we find that sign saying "We apologize for the inconvenience"

[Edited last by Danny R on August 25, 2001 at 12:09 AM]

#### Hector X. Cruz

##### Stunt Coordinator
Wow. Never did I think that my question about the chair would lead to this level of discussion.
I don't think that it warrants some of the arguments going on, though.
Ellie Arroway it is. Sorry about the mistake.
-Hector
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#### Bill Catherall

##### Screenwriter
Never did I think that my question about the chair would lead to this level of discussion.
I think all you had to do was bring up Contact and it was inevitable.

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Bill

#### Philip Hamm

Senior HTF Member
I've got the solution for both Robert and Ric:
Movies don't have to follow the freaking laws of physics. Now can you please stop bickering and riuning this otherwise interesting thread.

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Philip Hamm
AIM: PhilBiker

#### Hector X. Cruz

##### Stunt Coordinator
So, anybody care to venture a hypothesis on what happened to the chair upon Ellie's "return" to Earth?
I'd have to go back and check, but I don't remember seeing the chair in the transport as she hit the ground.
-Hector
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#### Jon Mercer

##### Second Unit
I also wondered what happened to the chair when she "returned" to Earth. Did no-one think to mention that it was on the floor or not even there any more? I bet Cancer Man knows but he most likely won't tell us.
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Where the heck is Plucky? HERE DUCKY DUCKY DUCKY!!!
Magic armour is good but it tends to lose its magic without warning. Many an ancient lords last words had been " You can't kill me because I've got magic AARRGG!"
-Interesting Times-

#### Hector X. Cruz

##### Stunt Coordinator
So, has anybody checked to see if the chair, in fact, disappeared?
-Hector
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#### JerryW

##### Supporting Actor
No problems there. However any being able to create their own universe and define its laws and properties at the most fundamental level is pretty much de facto a God by almost every definition, at least as far as humanity's current technological level is concerned.
Universal design, eh? If you close your eyes, and really try hard, you can design your own world with parameters of your own choosing. Creation IS creation, after all. The only difference being that we lack the ability (as of yet) to encapsulate the entirity of know and unknown space and time within the capacity of our own minds. It's all about volume, creativity, and patience.
*sigh*
These are the pitfalls of a Hermetic education.

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"But you have to remember that a worm, with very few exceptions, is not a human being." - Freddy

#### Elliott_P

##### Agent
I thought I remembered reading somewhere that Sagan was agnostic, not atheist.
Seems hard to fathom that a die hard atheist would write a book that ends with the proof of the existance of God.
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--Elliott--

#### JerryW

##### Supporting Actor
You'd be surprised at the number of Scientists that were once Atheists who change their opinions after studying in the advanced sciences (Astrophysics, quantum mechanics, super-string mathematics, etc) for a long time. I'm not saying that they become Christian, but they do start to think of themselves as Theists.
A good friend of mine that works in advanced mathematics at Cal Tech (he's one of world's foremost experts on Super-String) explained it to me like this...
"I've seen too many recurring patterns in my studies to further disbelieve that a god/creator exists. It's like walking on to the scene of a crime and finding a known "criminal's" fingerprints everywhere, but still trying to hold on to the belief that that person isn't a suspect."
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"But you have to remember that a worm, with very few exceptions, is not a human being." - Freddy

#### BrettB

Senior HTF Member
This is a bit off topic (sort of), but could someone explain why the much talked about floating compass on a chain was the worst looking special effect of the movie. The SFX throughtout the movie were top notch...and then there's the very bad floating compass.
As for the theological, this is one of those movies that inspires much thought/debate. However, in the end, everyone returns to the beliefs which he/she is comfortable with. I seriously doubt this movie changed 1 persons mind in these matters. However, it may have planted a seed.

#### Chuck C

Senior HTF Member
After watching Contact this evening, my first reaction was to jump on the HTF and find some interesting discussion of the movie, and BOOM, what a great thread.

Throughout the movie, it was easy to make assumptions and prove them. However, after weeding out the continuity/limits-of-film fallacies, I am left with many questions. Some of them were answered in this thread. In fact I have an answer to those who are confused about if Zemeckis ever showed that God exists...

pertaining to the book, ace peterson said,

In terms of the film, there was an indication that God is recognized...and it's not about the number pi. Ellie's father in the form of a Vegan when asked who did it said "no one knows, they got here before us...maybe they will return someday." This shows that there is a grand creator; at least that's my interpretation. I wonder if this was Bob Z's intent or Carl Sagan's.

I also wonder if faith (not Parker himself) interfered when Parker asked if Ellie believed in God. I know he says that he posed that question b/c he did not want to lose her. We all know that Ellie would have been a goner if she was chosen to pilot the mission at Cape Canaveral. Perhaps a supreme force brought Parker into the arena to keep her from being the FIRST commander of the transporter...not because he wanted to lose her, but because that SUPREME FORCE saw a couple destined for each other and wanted to keep them together. Does anybody else think this?

Also, the compass has huge symbolic implications...Here are two theories: 1) Had Ellie not reached out for the compass during the transport scene she would have stayed in the chair and been summarily crushed when it broke off and binded to the ceiling. Again....an interjection by fate

2) take that theory a step farther...had Ellie not received the compass from Parker in the first place, she would be on a death ride (b/c of the chair/crushing) and she would not have "found her way back home".

I hope I'm not reading too deep into the movie, but I think thoughts like this are healthy and effective.

I hope there are some replies to this!

#### Sean Laughter

##### Screenwriter
In the movie, Ellie asks who made the "subway system" and the aliens say they didn't built it and they don't know who did. I always read that as an indication of some God figure being present. Then, of course, there is the circle pattern in Pi in the book which always indicated to me the idea of God.

#### Bernhard

##### Stunt Coordinator
Regarding the beach sequence - I think that it didn't happen physically but as sort of a vision that the aliens created for Ellie. Think of a manufactured daydream.

#### Sam Davatchi

Senior HTF Member
Regarding the beach sequence - I think that it didn't happen physically but as sort of a vision that the aliens created for Ellie.
That is true and it’s explained several times, some in the movie and some in the behind the scenes. First, the waves go unnaturally backwards. Then it's the place. If you look closely, that environment is mentioned or drawn before by Foster’s character.

Senior HTF Member
In terms of the film said:
As Sam said, it was explained in the movie: Her "father" said "We though it would be easier on you" or something to that effect, referring to his appearence and the Pensacola surroundings.
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#### Alex Spindler

Senior HTF Member
With regards to the chair,
I believe that it's presence was disruptive to Ellies travel to the destination. Had she traveled without it, she would have been safely weightless. There were some bizarre directionless magnetic fields going on, which is why the compass spins aimlessly and the chair eventually floats. I would suspect that when she reached her destination, the 'Vegans' magnetized the chair to get it out of the way. That would be he reason why nothing else was affected.
With regards to Carl Sagan,
In a March 1996 profile by Jim Dawson in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Sagan talked about his then-new book The Demon Haunted World and was asked about his personal spiritual views.
"My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it," he said. "An agnostic is somebody who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic."
When asked how he would explain a "genuine mystical experience," Sagan responded: "Your question presupposes the existence of a genuine mystical experience and I'm not sure what that is. People have vivid hallucinations. How do you distinguish between altered states of consciousness? "If someone who has had an experience that tells us something about the universe that we didn't know and that later turns out to be true, then we'd have to say, 'My goodness.' " But that, he said, "would have to be more than the anecdotal reports that typically are used to support religious experiences."
From Famous Non-Theists
This puts the book in prespective and helps explains the resulting conclusion.
My take was that the many different cultures all went looking for a higher power, and did not find it. However, through continued exploration of their world and science, the higher power they were looking for was finally given the most tangible, but very small, evidence ever.
I believe that the movie convered this as well through minor bits of dialog, but was focused at emphasizing the concept of faith despite evidence.
The two are very different in their approaches, but both very well done.