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The algorithm informs me that the title for the next James Bond movie, the sequel to the franchise reboot Casino Royale (2006), will be titled Quantum of Solace. This title comes from a short story in Ian Fleming’s collection For Your Eyes Only (1960); the movie of that name used elements from two stories in the book, a third story became part of Licence to Kill (1989), and the title of a fourth story was affixed to the film A View To A Kill (1985).

The title “Quantum of Solace” appears in the story as the smallest possible unit of human compassion. The following paragraph appears in both the Everything2 article on the story (dated 6 March 2001) and today’s Telegraph piece about the movie:

The crux of the story is the emotional phenomenon the Governor calls the Quantum of Solace, the smallest unit of human compassion that two people can have. As long as that compassion exists, people can survive, but when it is gone, when your partner no longer cares about your essential humanity, the relationship is over.

Well, OK, Lucy Cockcroft’s story in the Telegraph doesn’t have the words “of the story” following “crux.” Eit!

Popularizers of physics are going to have a field day with this one. Perhaps, just perhaps, we’ll finally have an example of quantum meaning small!

13 Comments

    • Caledonian
    • Posted Thursday, 24 January 2008 at 15:52 pm
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    All fundamental units are small. But we rarely have reason to refer to such small quantities in everyday life.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

  1. ?

    No, seriously, you’ve got me befuddled. What are you talking about, and how does it relate to anything I wrote?

    The point is that in lay usage, we typically hear “quantum” being used either as a blanket New Age term (“quantum healing” or any other such crap), or to mean a large transition of some kind (a “quantum jump” or “leap”). According to the prècis at Everything2, subsequently plagiarized by the Telegraph, Fleming used the word in a sense much more analogous to the physicist’s meaning.

    • theistscientist
    • Posted Thursday, 24 January 2008 at 18:15 pm
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    I am a fellow scientist too. And your intellectual friend ebonmuse banned me because he couldnt handle debating me. I am theistscientist and I have two earned doctorates and your craven friend ebonmuse cant handle anything other than teenagers it would seem.Cowardice troubles me.

    • windy
    • Posted Thursday, 24 January 2008 at 18:28 pm
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    “Cowardice troubles me.”

    I don’t think this is where you audition to be the next Bond villain. Nice try, though.

  2. So, Mr. Theistscientist:

    What does this have to do with the subject currently under discussion, i.e., the new James Bond movie?

    And why does your first overture have to be a display of your own ego and a personal attack upon a third party? Your first appearance on my front porch should have been a civil one.

    I’ve read your attempts at “debating” at the Daylight Atheism site, and I’m afraid I have to agree with Ebonmuse’s evaluation of your behavior. Furthermore, I have no interest in providing a new platform for “repeated derailings of threads with preaching and personal attacks” (which is the first thing you did when you showed up here!), let alone “spamming the site with obscene and hateful comments”.

    My assessment of the empirical evidence (as a scientist with “two earned doctorates,” you should appreciate empirical evidence) is that you have no interest in rational discussion of any kind.

    If you can’t keep a civil tongue in your head, go away. Let my request for courtesy feed your persecution complex, and whine about your martyrdom at the hands of the godless infidel — but do it somewhere else.

    • bn
    • Posted Thursday, 24 January 2008 at 23:44 pm
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    I am bond.

    • Caledonian
    • Posted Friday, 25 January 2008 at 00:12 am
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    “or to mean a large transition of some kind”

    No, no, no! A discontinuous transition. One without intermediate stages.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath for people to use it to refer to small things. We have plenty of terms for small things, and we rarely refer to physical fundamental units.

    Oh, and for the record, your ability to derive meaning from minimalist prose is pretty bad. You might want to look into that.

  3. “Minimalist prose”?

    Permit me a guffaw.

    I don’t even think your description of the vulgar meaning of “quantum leap” is correct. To return to the case from two weeks ago, do you really think that Prime Minister Singh expects his country to wake up one morning with 10,000 new vocational schools? Abruptness is a relative thing.

    Sure, we have “plenty of terms for small things,” but we’ve also got plenty of terms for things which happen quickly: they snap and turnabout, they shoot up overnight or even in the blink of an eye.

    I am beginning to understand why PZ mourned the “Years of smugly tedious comments” from a “passive-agressive whiner” who was “nothing but a bitter noise-maker who poisons discussions.” But then again, we folks who don’t understand minimalist prose can be a little slow on the uptake.

    This appears to be the thread in which I exhaust my patience.

    • manigen
    • Posted Friday, 25 January 2008 at 06:03 am
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    Minimalist prose = I don’t mean what I say, I mean what I want

  4. Given how people play with movie titles, I expect that “Quantum of X” might cross the border into snowclone territory. At the very least, it’ll make writing headlines for movie reviews very easy: “New Bond flick has only quantum of acting,” let’s say, or more positively, “Quantum of corn mars spy-movie drama.” Then come the playful allusions: “Have you seen Harry Potter and the Quantum of Originality?

    • stogoe
    • Posted Friday, 25 January 2008 at 13:11 pm
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    Does Daniel Craig’s Bond even have a Quantum of Solace after Casino Royale? I guess we’ll see.

    • See, algorithms are nice people
    • Posted Friday, 25 January 2008 at 15:25 pm
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    Caledonian and theistscientist,

    I have a serious proposal: go set up blogs, y’all.

    I am not just saying this to be snarky. Negative comments on someone else’s blog have an audience that’s inherently unsympathetic to you — namely, the blogger you’re arguing with, and readers who mostly read the blog because they like it. Even if you are provably logically right (and I sure don’t think you are but that’s not relevant here), most of the readers are unlikely to be swayed and it won’t help for you to come back with comment after comment. (There are just gaps in postulates and world-view between you and the community that likes this blog.) And comments generally have to respond to whatever topics the blogger comes up with, so if you think topic X is under-discussed, you can’t do much about it. Finally, comments aren’t that widely read compared to the post being commented on; it’s only the blogger and a few hardcore readers that are reading all your stuff.

    Conversely, getting your own blog could be awesome. You can leave the world of bloggers who make imprecise statements about India’s education minister, and work on your posts until you think you’ve got them right. Right right. You can choose topics you think are important instead of following up on what other folks chose. You’re going to mostly attract readers who are close enough to you ideologically that y’all come out of exchanges feeling more informed, not just feeling like the other person should jump in a lake. You don’t risk disemvowellment or banning! And between Google’s incredible bias towards blogs and bloggers’ boundless willingness to link to each other, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting more folks to read your blog than read your comment; it just takes somewhat-interesting content. I think it’d easily be more fun and accomplish more than posting disagreements here.

    If I felt I had stuff to say and time to say it, I’d have a blog (or rather, I’d actively post to it). Y’all should, honest to goodness, go for it.

  5. I guess this means that solace doesn’t have a zero-point term.


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