Science Burrito has been away again. It is terrible of me, I know. I promise, I will make it up to you all by posting plenty of fun stuff over the next two weeks. But before we get back to our regularly scheduled science-y fun, I wanted to draw everyone’s attention to a project that I am very excited about.

A good friend of mine, by the name of Eric Bergquist, is trying to start up a production company, and he needs your help. And why not? Everyone loves a good movie, and this guy makes good movies. Why am I particularly excited about this production company? I hear you ask. Do I here you ask that? No? Well, I’ll tell you anyway. It’s because this guy loves science!

Don’t believe me? Go and check out his Indiegogo page. You’ll find all the information you need on the project he’s trying to get off the ground right now – “The Chronic Adventure Story”. If you ever played choose-your-own-adventure stories as a kid (and if, like me, you’re an 80s child, then you certainly did) then you’ll love this. Eric is constructing a film in four parts, with no order. You choose the order you want to watch them in, and that changes the story you’re watching. It’s like a film version of the famous ‘book-in-a-box’, The Unfortunates, by B. S. Johnson.

I think that is incredible. Think about it, that’s not just four films for the price of one, that’s twenty four films for the price of one. Don’t believe that!? Here’s how the maths works…

If you’ve got one thing, let’s call it thing A because we are very unoriginal, you can only arrange it one way, thus:

A

If you have two thing, A and B, you can arrange them two ways, thus:

A B

B A

If you have three things, A, B and C, things are a little more complicated, so let’s break them up a bit. First we can three different pairs by taking each letter out in turn to give, BC (take away the A), AC (take away the B) and AB (take away the C). We know from above that a pair can be arranged two ways, so that’s three lots of two, thus:

BC and CB

AC and CA

AB and BA

Now, we just put back the missing letter that we took out earlier, thus:

ABC and ACB

BAC and BCA

CAB and CBA

That is six combinations, or three lots of two (3×2).

Finally, what if we have four things. Just like before, we know three things give six combinations. We can make four different lots of three by taking away the A, B, C, or D, thus:

BCD

ACD

ABD

ABC

Each of those makes six combinations each, then we just add back in the missing letter like before. So that’s 6×4 or 24 possible combinations.

And here that is again, in animated form:

Analogy Pictures (that’s the name of his company, obviously, come on, keep up!) is doing exactly what I should be doing more of, here at Science Burrito. He is taking some fascinating concepts in science and mathematics, and he is using cleverly constructed narrative to put those ideas across on the big screen.

But let me be clear, we are not talking science lessons here, like the posts I deliver here at SB. These are stories first and foremost, wrapped around a chewy science centre. They are, quite deliberately, analogies – using common place ideas and experiences to demonstrate unusual or abstract concepts. Personally, I love that sort of stuff!

So, if you love original and intelligent film making, are a fan of good science and are fed up of the endless stream of remakes and sequels coming out of Hollywood, do what Science Burrito is doing, and put a bit money Eric’s way. I know it will be worth it.