Slingshots of the Oceanic

Space movies and NASA’s prolific media output have made gravity-assisted space travel quite familiar. But, however cutting-edge the technique, which uses the gravitational pull of a planet or other spatial body to change the course or velocity of a spacecraft, it has a remarkable and surprising precedent: more than 1,000 years ago, mariners in the South Pacific were using tides, winds, currents and once-in-a-generation atmospheric events to move from island to island, their knowledge represented in ‘stick charts’. In a marvelous echo across the centuries, these ancient seafaring explorers took the same sort of indirect routes to their destinations as today’s spacecraft, heading in one direction only to be slingshotted into another. Adapted from a post by Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG, Slingshots of the Oceanic combines archival material with stop-motion animation and collage techniques to reveal how the human urge to explore connects people across the centuries.

  • Flora Lichtman
  • Kellen Quinn
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 29 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 12, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    3,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Aeon
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: Internet
Director Biography - Flora Lichtman

I like telling stories about science, especially when clay rats or paper lobsters are involved. I am co-director of the Emmy-nominated video series Animated Life on The New York Times Op-Docs channel. (We lost to Oprah.) I hosted The Adaptors podcast about climate change and before that was the managing editor of video and substitute host for PRI's Science Friday. I (earnestly) co-wrote a book on the science of annoyingness. Before that, I worked for a NATO oceanographic lab. For the lab's research expeditions, I lived on an Italian ship where apertivi were served on the top deck, hoisted there via pulley by the ship's chef.

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