Sunday, October 19, 2008

Terrence Howard on Life, the Universe and Everything

We had house guests 3 weekends in a row, which means I don't have much sewing or knitting to show. We mostly recuperated this weekend.

I want to post a quick link to a Scott Simon's interview with actor Terrence Howard. Though I had seen his work, I was not very familiar with him. That searing interview changed everything. Scott Simon wrote, "I have interviewed thousands of actors over the years. None have been as eloquent, illustrative, or fascinating as Terrence Howard." Best of all, there is a video of most of the interview.

When Howard talked about his mother's death, and catching himself watching the moment like an actor instead of a son, it was riveting. He also spoke about how he had set out to be a scientist instead of an actor. But life has unexpected twists. He has certainly thought deeply about science though. He pointed out things that I had not thought about.

Howard's deep explanation of the soap bubble reminded me of the first chapter in the Feynman lectures on physics, when Feynman makes an aside about molecules constantly colliding with one another and exchanging energy. It was just a throwaway aside to Feynman, but it captured my imagination enough for me to devote my PhD thesis work to it.

Listen to the interview.


  1. Just by chance I heard that interview earlier today, in the NPR Most Emailed Stories podcast. So interesting! It confirmed my sense that there was a real interesting and observant person inside the actor. Too bad the transcript leaves out much of interest in the audio interview. Thanks for highlighting this so that others may hear it as well.

  2. I'll have a hear--he was on Fresh Air a year or two ago, and that was also a memorable, excellent interview. Makes me wish he'd be cast in more things that match his skills (and my interests, I guess).

  3. Anonymous15:22

    It was an interesting interview, Howard sounds like a great person, and it's cool he's interested in science. However his explanation of bubbles is completely wrong. (The correct explanation is surface tension, not the weight of the universe.) I don't blame him for not knowing and for liking the theory he came up with as a 13 year old. It's cute and inspiring. But NPR should have a little more responsibility for the truth. If an actor made a false claim about a presidential candidate, the media would correct it (or get criticized for not doing so). It's too bad scientific knowledge isn't more respected.

  4. The shape of the bubble is determined by surface tension, but not the size.

    The size of the bubble is determined by the balance of forces. If there was an infinite hydrostatic force, the bubble would collapse. It doesn't. He is absolutely correct.

    Would Eric like to interject?


Comments are open for recent posts, but require moderation for posts older than 14 days.