June/July 2019 Newsletter

Scientists in the Line of Fire
HBO's Chernobyl

Watching Chernobyl, a five-episode series produced by HBO and released in
06 May 2019 felt like participating in a funeral dirge for 5 hours on end. I was watching the scenes unfold, but deep inside, I was weeping and grieving since I had a general knowledge of what happened in the greatest nuclear disaster in history. Knowing the facts beforehand made it all the more excruciating to watch.
“The accident happened because of a combination of basic engineering deficiencies in the reactor and faulty actions of the operators: the safety systems had been switched off, and the reactor was being operated under improper, unstable conditions, a situation which allowed an uncontrollable power surge to occur.”

Once again, it was the scientists who were the citadels of truth as they tried to find the truth and make sense of how the disaster happened, and how it can ultimately affect Ukraine, Russia and the rest of Europe . “ Jared Harris portrays Valery Legasov, a leading Soviet nuclear physicist. As part of the response team, he was one of the first to grasp the scope of the unparalleled disaster that occurred. Emily Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist committed to solving the mystery of what led to the Chernobyl disaster.”

Without these truth seekers, radiation would have definitely spread beyond Europe. Two days after the Chernobyl incident, a plant worker in Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant in Sweden finished his shift and as he went through a radiation detector, the detector went off. “It was quickly determined that a cloud of radioactive gas had drifted across all of Scandinavia, Germany and Czechoslovakia. Pharmacies in Denmark quickly sold out of potassium iodide tablets.”

But through the clarity of intention and determination of scientists Legasov and Khomyuk to say the truth to the Russian government, no matter the cost, remedies were instituted at a great human cost so that others could be saved.

Big Little Lies
Season 2

Can hiding the truth eat away a person’s soul, destroy a family and affect a whole community?
( Spoiler Alert ahead! )
Big Little Lies Season 1 ended with the death of Perry Wright which ensnares the five major characters in a big lie, the fulcrum for the second season’s raison d’etre.

The casting of Meryl Streep as Perry Wright’s mother is particularly brilliant, as she tries to determine the real cause of her son’s death. The mano a mano between Streep, Kidman and Witherspoon is so delicious to watch!

“Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) is in Monterey to help her daughter-in-law Celeste (Nicole Kidman) with her twin sons, and at home, the two women politely circle one another, their passive-aggressive rapport at odds with the graceful light fixtures. It’s only when Mary Louise bumps into Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) that she relaxes enough to be her genuine, strange self. ‘You’re very short,’ she interrupts herself to observe about Madeline. ‘I don’t mean it in a negative way. Maybe I do. I find little people to be untrustworthy,' she elaborates, with a little head-shake, as though she’s letting Madeline in on a true secret of her personality.”

Will the characters played by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz grapple with the consequences of their big, little lies and its effects on everyone in this picturesque, breathtaking Monterey, California landscape?
Or will the truth set them free?

Bourdain Seeks the Scientists in
Parts Unknown: Antarctica

When Anthony Bourdain visited the scientists in Antarctica in 2017, his intention was not to talk about food but to learn about climage change. Ms. Angela Zoumplis , a polar biologist recalls Bourdain's visit...
“ 'Watching “Parts Unknown: Antarctica' was a very hopeful moment for all of us because our painstaking work was being celebrated at a time when climate research was under assault in Washington (and, where, unfortunately, it continues to be)...

"The conversation that weekend was about science, and Anthony Bourdain, who would have turned 63 on Tuesday, was our champion, as he was for so many others."

Bourdain may be gone, but his works were a testament to truth searching, even if it means visiting the bottom of the earth to ferret out what was real.

" Rarely, if ever, has an episode of “Parts Unknown” so descriptively lived up to its title. Antarctica is the last un-fucked-up place on Earth. Chances are you can’t go there. Certainly not the way we did.

"We were extremely fortunate to have been invited by the National Science Foundation. Which meant that, along with incredible access and logistical support, there were rules and requirements.
"All of us on the crew had to get rigorous medical exams, full labs, dental—the works. You break your hip at the South Pole, it’s going to be difficult and expensive to get you out. If your helicopter or your C-130 plane has to ditch, requiring an overnight stay on the ice, you better be physically up to it and fully briefed on procedure."

To truth seekers all around. Cheers!

Share your thoughts by emailing me at mayet@mayetligadyuhico.com