His Dark Materials

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby bbctol » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:32 pm UTC

Lord Bob wrote:I'm reading this, and I have a question. What time period does this take place in? The closest thing I've found is a bottle of wine from 1860 or so I THINK. It's bothering me, because one second they are talking about arrows and the next they are talking about trucks and movies! So what is it? Thanks.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Joeldi » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:35 pm UTC

From what I remember, there were hardly any scenes set in Will's (our) world. Were there any hints therein?
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby 22/7 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:22 pm UTC

Not that I recall. You'd have to go back and reread the beginning of the subtle knife to be sure, though.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby opsomath » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:43 pm UTC

I have wanted to punch my fellow Christians in the nose over this trilogy. It's creepy and eerie and interesting and incredibly imaginative - the idea of "daemons" in particular is done to perfection although hardly original. The whole time you're reading it, you have this spine-tingling sense of discovering some deep secret of the universe, the same as the characters are supposed to be having.

Hrm. So in Pullman's story, a rogue angel attempts to seize power and proclaim that he is God. Isn't that exactly what Christians believe concerning Satan? Why is everyone feeling so dam' threatened?

I am aware of all the practical differences between the Christian story and that portrayed in HDM. (most outstandingly, that there isn't ANY real God in HDM) I'm just sayin'.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Elenion » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:26 pm UTC

I have a question. I'm re-reading the triology in English now (read it in Norwegian a long time ago) and my copy of the first book is called "The Golden Compass". Now I know that is the title of the new movie.. but someone said the book was named "Northern Lights"... I'm confused. Enlighten me please.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Belial » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:35 pm UTC

It was called "Northern Lights" in Europe, and "The Golden Compass" in the US. I prefer the US title, personally.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby 22/7 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:16 pm UTC

Belial wrote:It was called "Northern Lights" in Europe, and "The Golden Compass" in the US. I prefer the US title, personally.

Could that have anything to do with the way the rest of the books are titled, and the fact that the Golden Compass is kind of the focus of the first story (in the same way the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass were the foci of their respective books)?
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Belial » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:22 pm UTC

That would be the reason, yes
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jesse » Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:53 pm UTC

NO!

Sorry, here is why it was called the Golden Compass:

Philip Pullman: "The trilogy known as HIS DARK MATERIALS didn't have that name in my mind from the start. In fact it didn't have a name at all; it was just 'the big book'. When I'd finished the first volume and was talking about it with David Fickling, my British publisher, we tried various names and couldn't find one that worked. I knew that the trilogy needed a name, and that each of the books needed its own separate name too (I don't like numbers in titles: THE GODFATHER PART TWO, and so on. Just a fad. But it's my fad). So: what should they be called?

My first discovery was the phrase THE GOLDEN COMPASSES (plural, note). This comes in Milton's Paradise Lost, a poem which inspired me a great deal. The line refers to the Son of God taking 'the golden compasses, prepared / In God's eternal store, to circumscribe / The universe, and all created things."

In other words, these were compasses to draw a circle with, not a compass to find your way with. I liked the phrase, and the trilogy became temporarily, during the publication process, The Goldem Compasses. And we finally settled on Northern Lights for the title of the first book.

Meanwhile, in the US, it was being read by the editors at Alfred A. Knopf. Someone decided (mistakenly, but firmly) that the title referred to Lyra's alethiometer, which could be regarded as a sort of golden compass, but of the direction-finding and not circle-drawing sort. So the same someone or another someone decided to refer to the first book, for their own internal discussing-a-forthcoming-book purposes, as THe GOLDEN COMPASS.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, I had found the much better phrase, HIS DARK MATERIALS, for the title of the trilogy. I quote the passage from which it comes at the very beginning of the first book. Better, because it's more atmospheric, and there's the uncanny resemblance to 'dark matter', which figures largely in the story. So out went THE GOLDEN COMPASSES, and in came HIS DARK MATERIALS.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, the publishers had become so attached to THE GOLDEN COMPASS that nothing I could say could persuade them to call the book NORTHERN LIGHTS. Their obduracy in this matter was accompanied by such generosity in the matter of royalty advances, flattery, promises of publicity, etc, that I thought it would be churlish to deny them this small pleasure.

So that's it. The fact that all three titles refer to an artifact is no more than a coincidence, though it does make a nice pattern. Before I'd finished the third one, the artist Eric Rohmann, who drew the wonderful covers the books had in their first Knopf editions, asked what the third book would be called, and before I could tell him, volunteered THE SOPHISTICATED MONKEY-WRENCH.

One tiny final thing: my first suggestion for the third book was THE LACQUER SPY-GLASS. My editor at Knopf, Joan Slattery, pointed out that this might be mis-heard as LACK OF, and that made sense to me; so it became AMBER instead."

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby 22/7 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:27 pm UTC

Jesster wrote:stuff

We weren't claiming that to be the reason it was named such, only that to be the reason that we liked it better as a title.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby SpitValve » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:56 pm UTC

One thing that semi-ruined the books for me was when he decided to proclaim that dust was dark matter. It basically made me stop believing anything that was happening. Sure, if you want to have some magic conscious elemental particle, that's alright, but Dark Matter Does Not Work That Way.

It's like how I'm fine to have, say, some magic metal that gives anyone who wears a suit of armour made out of this metal the ability to fly. But if they said "by the way, this metal is called 'iron' in your world", then that just gets silly: it's just not what iron does.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby 22/7 » Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:34 am UTC

SpitValve wrote:One thing that semi-ruined the books for me was when he decided to proclaim that dust was dark matter. It basically made me stop believing anything that was happening. Sure, if you want to have some magic conscious elemental particle, that's alright, but Dark Matter Does Not Work That Way.

It's like how I'm fine to have, say, some magic metal that gives anyone who wears a suit of armour made out of this metal the ability to fly. But if they said "by the way, this metal is called 'iron' in your world", then that just gets silly: it's just not what iron does.

Have you ever worn a suit of iron and tried to fly? Didn't think so.

But yes, that was stupid.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jesse » Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:21 am UTC

22/7 wrote:
Jesster wrote:stuff

We weren't claiming that to be the reason it was named such, only that to be the reason that we liked it better as a title.


Oh, I know, but the amount of people I have had to pull that article out on since this film was announced is unbearable, so I threw it here the moment the difference in title was brought up.

Everyone seems to think the alethiometer is the 'golden compass'. And it gets on my nerves because I am silly like that.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Zohar » Wed Dec 05, 2007 9:42 am UTC

Jesster wrote:Everyone seems to think the alethiometer is the 'golden compass'. And it gets on my nerves because I am silly like that.


Well thanks for the article, I didn't know that. And I did think the alethiometer is the golden compass (since, you know, it's golden and can give you a direction of sorts...).
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jesse » Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:38 am UTC

:D

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby alphacenturi » Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:32 am UTC

i don't really see HDM as atheist books... they were against the corruption in the church yes, but i would hope that isn't what religion is founded upon... my friend said that for her, they were very spiritual books because of this, which (as an aethist) i found interesting...



i must admit i thought the golden compass was the aleiltheometer as well... *shakes head* thanks for the article.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby aion7 » Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:02 am UTC

I liked the books in this order Golden Compass/Northern Lights tied with Subtle Knife (It's really a matter of Iorek or Will's beginnings, and I can't make that decision) then The Amber Spyglass (there were a few nonsensical parts, and a few unnecessary parts) and finally comes the abomination that was Lyra's Oxford. It totally ruined the ending. Also, it was just bad.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Vaniver » Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:56 am UTC

Malice wrote:First of all, Citizen Kane's technical innovations aged pretty well, for the reason that people don't use them anymore. I'm hard-pressed to name even a single modern film which uses deep-focus cinematography--and certainly none the way CK uses it (that is, all throughout). Others haven't so much "aged" as "become standardized" (for instance, overlapping dialogue, and achronological narratives).
I should have been more careful with my language- the novelty hasn't aged well.

As for the other complaints, I am far from an expert when it comes to filmography; you're probably right.

opsomath wrote:Hrm. So in Pullman's story, a rogue angel attempts to seize power and proclaim that he is God. Isn't that exactly what Christians believe concerning Satan? Why is everyone feeling so dam' threatened?

I am aware of all the practical differences between the Christian story and that portrayed in HDM. (most outstandingly, that there isn't ANY real God in HDM) I'm just sayin'.
A number of reasons.

Spoiler:
The first is that the primary virtue in HDM is not doing what you're told, and some of the prominent characters are selfish to Randian proportions (why waste all that time charging a capacitor when I could just sever a child's daemon from him?). Metatron is, according to some Jewish/Christian traditions, Enoch, who was taken by God (Genesis 5:24); a far cry from Satan rebelling (which is what Asriel, Xaphania, and Lyra are doing). It shouldn't be outstanding that there's not any real God in HDM- that's the point. The Authority is just the one who appeared first, not the wisest or the strongest. Why defeat God when you could just turn him into a senile liar, who disappears when exposed to the slightest wind? The business of the metaphysical church being run by a corrupt lieutenant and focused around inquisitions is not particularly kind to the church, either. The temptation of the second Eve is celebrated, not lamented.


HDM has a lot going for it as a story and a world, but philosophically it's lacking. Yes, doubt is more useful than faith, and experience is more desirable than innocence. But it takes more than that to make a worldview that is worth being put in religion's place. Now, to be fair, Pullman isn't trying to sell a philosophical system, he's just writing a counterpart for things like the Chronicles of Narnia (and I have a hard time as seeing the two as balanced; Lewis's quiet suggestions of Christianity are nothing like Pullman's openness that can be called propaganda with some fairness).

SpitValve wrote:One thing that semi-ruined the books for me was when he decided to proclaim that dust was dark matter. It basically made me stop believing anything that was happening. Sure, if you want to have some magic conscious elemental particle, that's alright, but Dark Matter Does Not Work That Way.
And Pullman mangled Everett's Many Worlds interpretation, and made entanglement work the opposite of how it should. Why go to the trouble of making up magic when you can just spread misinformation about QM?

Jesster wrote:Everyone seems to think the alethiometer is the 'golden compass'.
One of the movie's many flaws is constantly referring to the alethiometer as a golden compass, so get used to hearing that more :\
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Torvaun » Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:20 am UTC

opsomath wrote:Hrm. So in Pullman's story, a rogue angel attempts to seize power and proclaim that he is God. Isn't that exactly what Christians believe concerning Satan? Why is everyone feeling so dam' threatened?

Because, in this story, you have a near perfect parallel to the Christian Satan story, and it's being used as the basis for the religion. The net effect is that a lot of Christians see this story calling them all Satanists. For some reason, they don't like that. Even better is the part where the author paints the whole organization while dipping his brush solely into the inkwell of corruption. Pick any organization you're proud to be part of. Now pretend someone uses all the worst excesses from that organization to describe it. Now pretend that story becomes a best seller, and then is made into a movie, and all the while the twisted organization they show is claimed to be your favorite organization covered by a veneer so thin it can only be described using quantum mechanics. Think you might get a bit touchy about it?

Disclaimer: I'm not a zealot, religious or otherwise. I loved His Dark Materials. I'm just explaining why a lot of Christians are getting very angry about this.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby SpitValve » Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:39 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Spoiler:
The first is that the primary virtue in HDM is not doing what you're told, and some of the prominent characters are selfish to Randian proportions (why waste all that time charging a capacitor when I could just sever a child's daemon from him?). Metatron is, according to some Jewish/Christian traditions, Enoch, who was taken by God (Genesis 5:24); a far cry from Satan rebelling (which is what Asriel, Xaphania, and Lyra are doing). It shouldn't be outstanding that there's not any real God in HDM- that's the point. The Authority is just the one who appeared first, not the wisest or the strongest. Why defeat God when you could just turn him into a senile liar, who disappears when exposed to the slightest wind? The business of the metaphysical church being run by a corrupt lieutenant and focused around inquisitions is not particularly kind to the church, either. The temptation of the second Eve is celebrated, not lamented.


I think I can agree with you there. It wasn't so bad in the first book though: all that was in the first book was that the church was corrupt, and basically, there wasn't much the church did in the first book that the church hasn't done in real life somewhere in someplace.

I think it's slightly ironic that in order to obtain freedom to do whatever they want, they have to do precisely what the alethiometer tells them to... And there's one really odd bit where the shaman order the birds to attack a zeppelin, and it says the birds feel the "joy of obeying something truly right"... it's almost like he's trying to say one thing, but writing another thing by accident...

What I wonder though, is how Jesus would fit into the theology of His Dark Materials. I guess Pullman might just say he was another deceiving angel or something.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Joeldi » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:29 am UTC

I read the series ages ago, when I was still in primary school, and I acknowledged it as my favourite series for some time.

Because I made up my mind to see the movie, no matter how bad it was, because I do that, I decided I had to re-read Northern Lights, as I'd forgotten so much. Trouble was, (I assume the because of the movie) the book they had at the library was the American Version. I'm just wondering if there were any changes to the text between them- other than the ugly spelling. (I'm not concerned with the other two books, I assume the local libraries will only have the British Versions.)


RE the alethiometer: It is a yellowy colour (whether it's brass or gold: whatever) and it's definetely a type of compass, so whatever the etymology of the title, it is the perfect one in relation to the other books.
Last edited by Joeldi on Tue Dec 25, 2007 11:18 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Sunsnail » Sun Dec 23, 2007 6:08 am UTC

Weird. I STILL think the alethiometer is the golden compass

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jesse » Sun Dec 23, 2007 7:51 am UTC

Sunsnail wrote:Weird. I STILL think the alethiometer is the golden compass


http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?p=419712#p419712

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Sunsnail » Mon Dec 24, 2007 9:00 am UTC

Jesster wrote:
Sunsnail wrote:Weird. I STILL think the alethiometer is the golden compass


http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?p=419712#p419712


Yeah, I read that. I don't see why it can't be a golden compass, even if the title isnt referring to it

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jesse » Mon Dec 24, 2007 8:12 pm UTC

Because it isn't a compass?

And my biggest annoyance wasn't that they used the term golden compass, it's that they used both terms every single time they referred to it. Call it one or the other, or even switch between, but don't say "The golden compass, the alethiometer" every time oyu say it.

Also, if you use it in reference to the books, then most people in the UK pre-film would go "Wha?" because obviously our book was nicely titled 'Northern Lights'.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Joeldi » Tue Dec 25, 2007 11:30 am UTC

But it IS a compass. Not literally, but it a round device, with swinging needles, that are drawn to a specific marking in response to the forces excerted by an elementary particle.

It also gives the reader a point of reference, and as a compass is used metaphorically - shows him or her the way to go.

It's not litereally a compass, but it is both categorically, AND metaphorically similar to one. Is the title not appropriate?

Also. Oh me yarm this movie is sounding worse by the second. I'm having second thoughts about laughing at how bad it is...that quote seems painful.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jesse » Tue Dec 25, 2007 12:16 pm UTC

I've not said the title isn't appropriate, it's a fine title. But it's not Northern Lights, which is the UK title, the first title I saw it with and the one I associate with the book. It's only in the past six months or so that I've heard anyone call it 'The Golden Compass' so it jars me. I excpect this to happen to many of the readers in the UK, which is why I warned against calling it that.

Not to mention that alethiometer is such a cool name for the device in the first place.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Torvaun » Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:49 pm UTC

On the other hand, readers in the U.S. have only known it by the name "The Golden Compass". I only found out recently that it was originally titled "The Northern Lights". Given that there was an expectation that more U.S. residents would be seeing the movie than U.K. residents, it seems perfectly viable for the movie studio to name it as they did.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jesse » Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:46 pm UTC

Am I arguing they shouldn't have? I missed that bit. I was arguing against expecting everyone to know that you mean the alethiometer when you say "Golden compass" and also arguing against the movie's decision to refer to it as both golden compass and alethiometer every single time it is referenced. Pick one and run with it guys, it is not difficult.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Torvaun » Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:55 pm UTC

Sorry, I read what you were saying in that last post as saying they shouldn't have named the movie that, not they shouldn't have called the alethiometer that. My bad.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jesse » Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:58 pm UTC

No problem. Looking back, I not only did not make it clear, it actually reads like I was continuing talking about the title.

I need to be less ambiguous.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby darwinwins » Wed Dec 26, 2007 1:30 pm UTC

i loved the series. pullman combines elements of string theory, evolution, humanism and atheism into an epic piece of hate mail. :)
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Vaniver » Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:31 am UTC

darwinwins wrote:i loved the series. pullman combines elements of string theory, evolution, humanism and atheism into an epic piece of hate mail. :)
He never mentions string theory, unless I'm mistaken.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby darwinwins » Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:46 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
darwinwins wrote:i loved the series. pullman combines elements of string theory, evolution, humanism and atheism into an epic piece of hate mail. :)
He never mentions string theory, unless I'm mistaken.

the existence of multiple dimensions is a crucial element of string theory.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Zohar » Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:34 am UTC

darwinwins wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
darwinwins wrote:i loved the series. pullman combines elements of string theory, evolution, humanism and atheism into an epic piece of hate mail. :)
He never mentions string theory, unless I'm mistaken.

the existence of multiple dimensions is a crucial element of string theory.


That's like saying that if a book mentions water it must be a biology book, since water is a crucial element of life...
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby darwinwins » Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:53 am UTC

Zohar wrote:
darwinwins wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
darwinwins wrote:i loved the series. pullman combines elements of string theory, evolution, humanism and atheism into an epic piece of hate mail. :)
He never mentions string theory, unless I'm mistaken.

the existence of multiple dimensions is a crucial element of string theory.


That's like saying that if a book mentions water it must be a biology book, since water is a crucial element of life...

does the book mention the properties of water and its role it plays ecosystems? it's molecular properties and such? or are you just trying to make leaps of logic to play devil's advocate for lack of anything else to do?
"if you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. that's the world of hicks and slobs. " - haruki murakami

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Torvaun » Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:28 pm UTC

darwinwins wrote:
Zohar wrote:
darwinwins wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
darwinwins wrote:i loved the series. pullman combines elements of string theory, evolution, humanism and atheism into an epic piece of hate mail. :)
He never mentions string theory, unless I'm mistaken.

the existence of multiple dimensions is a crucial element of string theory.


That's like saying that if a book mentions water it must be a biology book, since water is a crucial element of life...

does the book mention the properties of water and its role it plays ecosystems? it's molecular properties and such? or are you just trying to make leaps of logic to play devil's advocate for lack of anything else to do?

Are you trying to state that quantum entanglement and dark matter work the way Pullman says? Extra dimensions as displayed in His Dark Materials do not match with extra dimensions as demanded by string theory. His cosmology is closer to Everett's many-worlds idea.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:43 pm UTC

"Dimensions" used in the string theory sense refer to dimensions like up-down, left-right, and backward-forward. They're axes.

"Dimensions" in the sense you're using it means "universes" or "planes".
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Torvaun » Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:04 pm UTC

It doesn't matter how I use it, it matters how Pullman used it, and the way he used it clearly demonstrates that it isn't about string theory.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Dec 27, 2007 6:45 pm UTC

Torvaun wrote:It doesn't matter how I use it, it matters how Pullman used it, and the way he used it clearly demonstrates that it isn't about string theory.


I know, I meant the guy who asserted it was about string theory.
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