Magic Molecule

Explore Your World: Watch 7 Cool Science Films

Films

What did we dream would happen in the future? Flying cars? Hoverboards? Sure, we could sit around being disappointed and complaining that those fantastical fantasies didn’t actually come true. Or we could look at the actual knowledge, inventions and technologies we’ve developed so far—via a few NFB science films, of course—and marvel at how cool they are!

Strange yet familiar

Often, the technology we use on a daily basis, or even the everyday chemistry and biology that makes the universe—and our bodies—run smoothly, seems unremarkable since we’re so used to it. Magical internet-video machines? No big deal. Lightweight palm-sized mobile media and communications devices? Whatever. Nuclear fission? Meh. But when we look closely at some of the processes and scientific principles that are at the very heart of things we take for granted every day, they begin to seem very cool.

Take, for example, The Mirrors of Time. This fascinating and funny short animation is about nothing less than the very invention of the concept of time itself. Sure, time always existed and passed us by, but the negotiation of how to talk about it, capture it, measure it, and understand it is a complex history dating back to ancient eras. Have a look!

Mirrors of Time by Jean-Jacques Leduc, National Film Board of Canada

Mid-century madness

In the mood for some mid-century throwback science? It’s always fun to see what kinds of new-fangled inventions previous generations found fascinating. Magic Molecule and Inside the Atom are both a vintage trip back to a time when progress seemed like it had no end. The former is a slightly ridiculous and dizzyingly colourful exploration of the endless potential of plastic, while the latter is a sombre look at the medicinal uses of nuclear energy at a time when fears about The Bomb were at an all-time high.

Magic Molecule by Christopher Chapman & by Hugh O’Connor, National Film Board of Canada

Inside the Atom by Jack Olsen, National Film Board of Canada

Science Please!

The Science Please! series aims to collect every conceivable question you might have about the world and how it works (Gravity! Engines! Germs! Dirt! Friction! Fire!) and answer them all in the span of seconds-long vignettes. Parts 1 and 2 of the series are below, and I have to make a recommendation: skip to the 7:20 mark of Science Please! Part 2 to get an earful on the nature of sound set to a catchy little jazz number and cut with hilariously bizarre archival footage.

Science Please! Part 1 by ONFB, National Film Board of Canada

Science Please! Part 2by ONFB, National Film Board of Canada

Where does it all come from?

If you’re like me or pretty much any Canadian-schooled child of the 1990s, you probably remember seeing Cosmic Zoom at some point in elementary school. And the film holds up well, probably continuing to thrill kids these days too! This short animation takes us from the farthest corners of the galaxy to the minutiae of the cellular level of being… and back again. Check out this trippy journey into the biggest and smallest of scales here:

Cosmic Zoom by Eva Szasz, National Film Board of Canada

And then there’s this mesmerizing little gem: How Do They Make Money? No, it’s not what you think it might be about (it’s not going to explain how you can get rich), but you can have a nostalgic moment with the now-defunct Canadian penny as it goes from sheet metal to shiny copper coin in only a few factory-processed steps. What is it about watching the production of seemingly inane objects that always fascinates us?

How Do They Make Money? by Tina Keeper, National Film Board of Canada

There’s more where that came from…

As always, you can plumb the bottomless depths of our online collection in order to peruse  various films about the sciences: from climate and weather to physics and mathematics, we’ve got something for every kind of nerd.