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'The Core' to be featured at first Earth Fear Film Festival

Crystal Ligon, News Bureau

Released 4/5/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Inspired by the success of the 24-year-old Insect Fear Film Festival at the University of Illinois, the U. of I. Geology Club and the department of geology are sponsoring an Earth Fear Film Festival on April 13 (Friday).

The festival, to be held at 7 p.m. in Room 228 in the Natural History Building, 1301 W. Green St., Urbana, will feature “The Core,” a 2003 science-fiction thriller about the huge calamities that occur on the planet’s surface when the core of Earth stops rotating. In true Hollywood form, explorers travel to the center of Earth to restart the rotation.

Xiaodong Song, a U. of I. professor of geology, was a co-author of the original research paper on which the movie was based. The 1996 publication documented that the inner core rotates faster than the rest of Earth, a phenomenon known as superrotation, and may play a role in formation of Earth’s magnetic field.

“The movie was quite impressive, imaginative and creative,” said Song, who will speak at the event. “It correctly made the connection of core motions and Earth’s magnetic field, but most everything else is ‘sci-fi.’ ”

Before showing the film, Song will explain the science of Earth’s interior, the evidence behind the superrotation and the potential importance superrotation may have in generating Earth's magnetic field.

Steve Marshak, the head of the geology department, will discuss outlandish 19th-century beliefs, made popular by Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” that it might be possible to visit the interior of Earth, along with a 21st-century speculation on how a probe might be sent deep into the planet’s interior.