The theme of this work, the “theory of everything,” describes everything from the micro world of quantum physics to the macro world of the universe through a single law. Advancements in observation technology have helped prove that Einstein’s 100-year-old theory of relativity can provide a consistent explanation for the phenomenon occurring in the Universe today. The 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson particle by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), that has the world’s largest particle accelerator, also verified the accuracy of the Standard Model, the theory that summarizes the laws in the world of elementary particles, and led to the identification of all the elementary particles that were predicted by the theory.
However, in tandem with advancements in computing technology and observation technology, new questions have been raised about the Universe, for example what happened before the Big Bang, what kind of phenomena take place in the interior of black holes, and what is the true nature of dark matter, along with other problems to which existing theories have no explanations. To answer these questions, it is necessary to develop new theories to connect the micro-world and the macro-world; the “theory of everything” is precisely this ultimate theory.
In recent years, the presentation of the Nobel Prize for the above mentioned discovery of the Higgs boson, and cutting-edge physics research such as observations that provide proof for the existence of dark matter, have attracted much public attention. This is also a field in which Japan excels, producing numerous Physics Nobel Prize winners, including Hideki Yukawa, Sin'ichiró Tomonaga, Masatoshi Koshiba, Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi, Toshihide Masukawa, and Takaaki Kajita. Related scientific books, etc. have sold exceptionally well, attracting much interest in the field. However, as research on theoretical physics is not tangible and visible to the eyes, but can only be expressed through mathematical language, and thus is extremely abstract and cannot be described as a topic that is understood by the general public.
Against this background, rather than “explaining” the abstract field of theoretical physics, this project was launched with the desire to trigger people’s interest for science, and to inspire a sense of wonder in the spirit of inquiry of human beings as well as the beauty of the world of theoretical physics through a film that can create a “physical experience” of the world that theoretical physicists see.
The story of this work comprises three worlds: the micro and macro worlds that validate the respective existing theories, and the world of “Hypothesis: Superstring theory” that connects them. While clarifying the relationship between proof and hypothesis, it cleverly presents a story about the insatiable spirit of inquiry of theoretical physicists, and their desire to understand everything about this world.
The film is supervised by Professor Hirosi Ooguri, who is a leading theoretical physicist working on superstring theory, to sure scientific accuracy for the film. He helped us describe scientific concepts without technical jargons so that everyone can enjoy the film. At the same time, many interesting scienfiic facts in are woven into the work, creating a film that even well-informed science fans will find engaging and worth watching.
The film is directed by film director Takashi Shimizu -- renowned for his work in the horror film, “The Grudge”. Despite the surprising combination of science with Mr. Shimizu, a leader in the world of horror films, this was an intentional move aimed at achieving the aims of this work.
The 180-degree screening environment of the Dome Theater surrounds the audience, providing a unique and immersive viewing experience that is different from the rectangular images seen on TV or in a regular movie theater. This work makes full use of the screening environment to strike the hearts of the audience, seeking to present the contents in the form of a “unforgettable experience through film” so that it not only surprises its viewers but also remains in their memories for a long time.
From among the many forms of film expressions that are available, Miraikan zeroed in on the horror film genre that harnesses a variety of creative means, with the desire to surprise the audience. Mr. Shimizu, with extensive experience in directing horror films including“The Grudge” as well as 3D movies, was tasked with staging this film. This was the intention behind combining the typically unmatched fields of science and horror. (*This is not a horror film, so those who do not enjoy horror films can also watch it.)
Mr. Shimizu has produced numerous works screened around the world, many of which are entertainment films. However, this is his first time experiencing the production of a scientific film for screening in a dome theater. When he first joined in the project, he spent his days studying the exhibits on elementary particles at Miraikan and reading widely on related subjects.
On the birth of the mysterious man T.o.E, Mr. Shimizu says, “I definitely wanted to avoid using an adorable mascot character to help the audience navigate through the ‘theory of everything,’ like in a textbook. During my research, I learnt that an element of mystery remains in the superstring theory, in the possibility that the smallest unit of matter may be a string of energy. I came up with the concept of personifying the ‘theory of everything’ itself, and the mysterious man named T.o.E was thus born. The idea for the name ‘T.o.E.’ was proposed by the scriptwriter Masanori Iuchi, while all the members of the staff came together and offered their ideas on the characters.”
Apart from T.o.E., this work also presents a unique cast of characters who can make the audience forget that it is a film based on abstract physics subjects such as the Calabi-Yau space. The Calabi-Yau space, a fluffy presence suspended in mid-air, stays close to T.o.E. like a pet, who has its own cry. In these ways, the playfulness of Mr. Shimizu is transformed into something broader, richer, and more enjoyable for the audience through the expressiveness of this work.
This work also tackles two challenges in the visualization of scientific data—the detection of the Higgs boson particle, and the simulation of the most accurate virtual Universe to date.
The scene of the Higgs boson uses data from collision experiments provided by the aforementioned CERN, and visualizes the trajectory of elementary particles that are scattered during the collision between protons.
The second challenge is the visualization of a virtual Universe that recreates the evolution of the Universe across 13.8 billion years, from gas to stars and large-scale structure. This visualization is achieved using simulation data based on gravity, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics, provided by the Illustris project undertaken by a team comprising members from institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Cambridge University. Bearing in mind that these computer graphics are visualizations based on actual research data obtained from research institutions, we hope you will also enjoy this aspect of the film.