Lost world

16 minutes

Mary-Jane Rubenstein: multiverses, pantheism and ecology

27 minutes

Bayes’s theorem, and making probability intuitive

16 minutes

In the absence

29 minutes

EXCLUSIVE

Symphonie diagonale

7 minutes

Sand grab: how Singapore’s growth is taking the land out from under Cambodians’ feet

Singapore is a tiny country with outsized influence. The Southeast Asian island nation packs some 5.6 million people into just 278 square miles, making it the third most densely populated country in the world. Its wealth is mostly built on oil but, due to a growing population, a booming economy and rising sea levels brought on by climate change, land is quickly becoming its most precious resource. Uninterested in reining in expansion, the government has a plan: through what is known as ‘land reclamation’, Singapore has expanded its size by some 24 per cent since it first gained independence in 1965, and plans to expand another 8 per cent by 2030.

Between 2007 and 2017, much of the sand used for Singapore’s physical growth was dredged and shipped from Cambodia, with little say from the villagers who were most affected. Lost World follows Vy Phalla, a Cambodian woman whose way of life is stolen from beneath her feet, as the industrial dredging process damages the waterways and mangrove forests that she and her fishing community depend on. Tracing Phalla’s journey from her modest island home to Singapore’s lush Cloud Forest botanical gardens – a tourist attraction built on reclaimed soil – this short documentary offers a vital perspective on artificial land, which has emerged as an urgent environmental and geopolitical issue over the past decade. Read more about Lost World at Emergence Magazine.

Director: Kalyanee Mam

Producers: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Adam Loften

Website: GO Project Films

If you think that modern cosmology leaves no room for ‘god’, start using your imagination

‘We’re not so much abandoning the idea of the gods, we’re just trying to pull them all the way into the Universe.’

From the possibility of infinite universes to the prospect of panpsychism, puzzles have arisen in physics that can take science to some very counterintuitive places. According to Mary-Jane Rubenstein, assistant professor of religion and feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, new theories and breakthroughs at the forefront of cosmology need not – and moreover, should not – elbow out theology from the conversation about our place in the cosmos. Instead, as she argues in this wide-ranging interview recorded at the HowTheLightGetsIn Festival from the Institute of Arts and Ideas in 2019, science should encourage us to build more durable myths and theologies to suit our times.

What is it to be Bayesian? The (pretty simple) math modelling behind a Big Data buzzword

If you’ve ever tripped up over the term ‘Bayesian’ while reading up on data or tech, fear not. Strip away the jargon and notation, and even the mathematics-averse can make sense of the simple yet revolutionary concept at the core of both machine learning and behavioural economics. As this video from the YouTube channel 3Blue1Brown skilfully explains, at its most basic, Bayes’s theorem is a tool for assessing degrees of probability based on prior conditions. And there are ways to make it altogether more intuitive than the statistical formulas might suggest. Although the theorem dates back to its 18th-century namesake, the English statistician and philosopher Thomas Bayes, it has gained increasing relevance in the Big Data revolution.

Video by 3Blue1Brown

‘They told us to stay put’: the South Korean ferry disaster that sank lives and trust

On 16 April 2014, the ferry MV Sewol sunk off the coast of South Korea, killing 304 people – the vast majority of them high-school students on a field trip. Like many other tragedies, the event made headlines around the world before quickly fading from the international news cycle. In South Korea, however, facts about the incompetence, government failures and lapses in responsibility that led to the Sewol’s sinking emerged slowly over the course of several years, prolonging pain and stoking anger to the present day. The documentary In the Absence by the South Korean director Yi Seung-Jun is a devastating account of the sinking and its aftermath – from the first signs of trouble at sea to the years-long struggle by bereaved families demanding accountability and justice. Combining original material with real-time audio and video of the tragedy, the film offers an extraordinary, chilling account of the consequences of following instructions from inept authorities – and the profound breakdown of public trust that follows such a disaster.

Director: Yi Seung-Jun

Producers: Gary Byung-Seok Kam, Park Bong-Nam

Website: Field of Vision

Dadaism ridiculed the meaninglessness of modern life – with captivating results

Dadaism was an avant-garde artistic movement born amid the wreckage of the First World War in Europe and formed in reaction to the perceived meaninglessness of modern life – in particular, of capitalism and its violence. The Swedish artist Viking Eggeling’s stop-motion animation Symphonie diagonale is considered both a Dadaist masterpiece and an early example of experimental animation. Basing the imagery on drawings he created alongside the influential German artist and fellow Dadaist Hans Richter, Eggeling revised and screened several versions of the short from 1922 up until his death in 1925. Shown as a silent film upon its release, this version of Symphonie diagonale features an original score, exclusive to Aeon. The contemporary Illinois-based composer William Pearson intends his music to react to Eggeling’s original vision in both style and composition, with playful, occasionally mechanical organ sounds, and melodies forming in sequence with the visuals emerging on screen.

Director: Viking Eggeling

Composer: William Pearson

Researcher: Tamur Qutab

Sand grab: how Singapore’s growth is taking the land out from under Cambodians’ feet

Singapore is a tiny country with outsized influence. The Southeast Asian island nation packs some 5.6 million people into just 278 square miles, making it the third most densely populated country in the world. Its wealth is mostly built on oil but, due to a growing population, a booming economy and rising sea levels brought on by climate change, land is quickly becoming its most precious resource. Uninterested in reining in expansion, the government has a plan: through what is known as ‘land reclamation’, Singapore has expanded its size by some 24 per cent since it first gained independence in 1965, and plans to expand another 8 per cent by 2030.

Between 2007 and 2017, much of the sand used for Singapore’s physical growth was dredged and shipped from Cambodia, with little say from the villagers who were most affected. Lost World follows Vy Phalla, a Cambodian woman whose way of life is stolen from beneath her feet, as the industrial dredging process damages the waterways and mangrove forests that she and her fishing community depend on. Tracing Phalla’s journey from her modest island home to Singapore’s lush Cloud Forest botanical gardens – a tourist attraction built on reclaimed soil – this short documentary offers a vital perspective on artificial land, which has emerged as an urgent environmental and geopolitical issue over the past decade. Read more about Lost World at Emergence Magazine.

Director: Kalyanee Mam

Producers: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Adam Loften

Website: GO Project Films

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