06th - 11th October 2016
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Special session - Is science a laughing matter?

Saturday 10th October 2009 from 17h00 to 18h30
Salle 1 / Auditorium

Does the marriage of science and humour go against nature? Let’s say rather it’s a marriage of reason. According to John Cleese of Monty Python fame, "He who laughs most, learns best."
Troubling? And yet it’s true. In scientific documentaries where the content is generally dense and often completely new for the viewer, it’s essential for writers and filmmakers not to settle for simple popularization. They need to coax viewers into their subjects. Humour is a way of driving a story. So exhilerating. So sacrilegious. Humour, or how to put science at our fingertips.

What is a black hole?

Directed by
Marc Chevalier
Written by
Anne Jaffrennou
Produced by
Petite ceinture, Doncvoilà, La société française d'astronomie et d'astrophysique, Observatoire de Paris, Observatoire de la côte d'Azur, Laboratoire Leprince-Ringuet, CNRS, Ecole Polytechnique

Animation, France, 2009, 4 min

The story revolves around 4 main characters: the man, the monkey, the black hole and the cosmic monster.

The man and the monkey bring a reality element to the story; they are the earthly witnesses, forever conniving, but never quite understanding the nature of the events that affect them. They are at the same time fascinated and frightened by the different phenomenons they observe, so they try to decipher the structure of matter, of the cosmos and of black holes.

The cosmic monster represents the dark side, the fears which are being awakened in our minds by the unfathomable mystery of the universe. The monster eventually proves to be an engaging character, who becomes the butt of the man and the monkey’s mischievous pranks.


Debate with :

  • Guillaume Lecointre, Team leader at the UMR 7138 CNRS-UPMC-MNHN-IRD
  • Jean-Pierre Luminet, astrophysicist and writer / CNRS - Observatoire de Paris
  • Vincent Gaullier, Director
  • Bruno Léandri, writer and humorist
  • Kees Moeliker, European Chief clerk « Improbable Research », Humor Prizes « Ig Nobel »

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Film information: What is a black hole?