Time Warp (2008) s01e07 Episode Script

Samurai Sword Master

LIEBERMAN: Perfect height.
NARRATOR: What happens when a deadly samurai sword slices and dices an opponent? I saw nothing.
I mean, a blade just came out of nowhere.
NARRATOR: What happens when a pool hustler runs the table and makes unbelievable trick shots? That is really awesome.
NARRATOR: And what happens when a hummingbird takes a stiff drink? It seems like we might have a totally new discovery.
NARRATOR: What happens? "Time Warp.
" Uh-oh.
[Laughter] NARRATOR: Take two guys whose slo-mo cameras can stop the world in its tracks I'm gonna run down there and catch all the action.
-Good luck.
-All right.
Matt, you ready? Joseph, I need the widest-angle lens we have.
I'm gonna shoot this landing right here.
NARRATOR: add a high-tech laboratory, where anything can and will happen Oh, boy.
NARRATOR: toss in some of the world's wildest talents.
[Electricity crackling] What happens? Who doesn't enjoy a great epic? [Screaming] NARRATOR: Especially when drawn out with over-the-top action? Is there any other kind? But that's not the way of the Japanese samurai.
Fighting is inefficient, by definition, so if a problem needs to be solved, you try to solve it as rapidly and efficiently as you can.
NARRATOR: For the samurai, 13 centuries of thought, technique, and sword design have gone into making the nasty art of killing as quick as possible.
WILLIAMS: That would have been a relatively quick death.
NARRATOR: True samurai duels were decided in seconds.
Once a move was initiated, second, two seconds, fraction of a second.
Not very long.
Can you just show me what you're doing? How does this process break down? I'm just basically drawing and striking immediately.
NARRATOR: When Matt hears the word "immediately," he usually grabs his high-speed camera.
Matt, stick to your camera.
When you're ready.
NARRATOR: Samurai sword master James Williams agreed to help us cut through some of the mystery surrounding the ancient martial art.
I saw nothing.
I mean, a blade just came out of nowhere.
All right.
Why don't you show us the quick draw again? NARRATOR: It takes more than just speed to cut through a torso or slice through a rolled tatami.
You need the ancient, honored, and crucial element of samurai performance, the katana sword.
So, we should talk a little about what tool makes this cut.
NARRATOR: The katana is a marvel of metallurgy and craftsmanship.
Nearly 4 feet long, the sword's steel is folded 5,000 times, curved, and tempered for strength.
What a curved blade does is several things.
Number one, you don't have as much surface area of the blade contacting immediately.
LIEBERMAN: So higher pressure.
WILLIAMS: So higher pressure in a smaller area.
It also, depending upon how you're cutting, when you move your body properly, the longer the blade spends in the cut, the deeper the blade's going to cut.
NARRATOR: Matt is filming James' sword action, or trying to, at 1,000 frames per second.
LIEBERMAN: Once you cut the person in half, do you really have to slice their whole body clean down the center? NARRATOR: The helpless tatami mats are actually close to the density of a human torso, after being rolled and soaked in water.
LIEBERMAN: Perfect height.
NARRATOR: Let's watch that lethal blow in slo-mo.
KEARNEY: You wouldn't have seen that till your head was gone.
Then I'm not sure you could see anything.
That's one continuous motion.
It just goes so against what people take for granted from seeing movies.
You see movies, and these fights go on for like 40 minutes.
KEARNEY: This would not take long.
This is not a sword fight.
This is over.
My cousin Frankie used to say, "Two hits.
Me hitting you, you hitting the floor.
" NARRATOR: Slicing and dicing may be enough for late-night TV infomercials, but it's not all that's going on with the samurai.
Hyah! NARRATOR: There's yet another force at work here.
A samurai's secret weapon, if you will.
As I cut, I'm actually sending a wave of energy through my body that shapes him in the process.
Hyah! NARRATOR: A wave of energy? Well, that's caught Jeff's attention.
The needle on his bogus-ometer is beginning to move.
Doing that sends a completely different wave through his body and either cuts him down or backwards and changes our distance relationship, which allows me to survive the encounter.
NARRATOR: Transfer of energy? That's likely to sound like non-Newtonian interference to Jeff's ears.
But the transfer of energy is an embedded belief in samurai teachings.
Now, James, is using a sheathed sword, but imagine if this was a real combat and a Samurai's full force was flowing through the blade.
WILLIAMS: I can feel the wave of kinetic energy initially, and then I just transfer it to him.
What does that feel like? Well, let's get a chair, and we'll let you know.
Looks like Jeff's gonna be taking one for science again.
Matt gets real happy when people put me in positions like this.
- [Laughs] -NARRATOR: That's right.
James is now going to slice off Jeff's head.
The resulting arterial blood spray may hit the camera lens.
Wa-- no, no, no.
That's not what's gonna happen.
KEARNEY: All right, here we go.
Everybody ready? I am going to be a believer soon.
It's really about becoming in harmony with universe law and allowing energies to be.
So it removes you from yourself.
What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna allow a wave of kinetic energy to pass through my body into yours, and you'll feel the wave.
They won't be able to see it in my body, but they'll be able to see it in yours, okay? I need to believe more.
All right.
You know, you're just loving this.
[Laughing] Sometimes it's good not to be the host.
If I push, you can push back.
-Right? -Yeah.
If I push down, you can resist that.
So what I'll do is the same motion cutting, only it's gonna go vertically, and I'm going to All right.
send and allow a wave.
I don't make it happen.
You let it happen.
So, you felt a very immediate burst of energy.
Matt was also curious about these techniques.
NARRATOR: Yes, but Matt kept his mouth shut.
And James is just getting warmed up.
I'm not gonna let my hand accelerate, so there's not gonna be any damage, but you'll just feel a sudden exchange of energy.
-Hold the chair.
-What do you want me to do? Okay.
You All right.
I've had enough.
Matt, I hope you got all this stuff.
Why don't we take a look? NARRATOR: Watch this closely at 5,000-frames-per-second warp speed.
KEARNEY: I want to see what really happened here.
LIEBERMAN: I couldn't tell you.
I think I blinked unconscious for a minute.
NARRATOR: And down he goes, taking the fall for a force he cannot fully explain.
From like a Newton's law perspective, where is the reaction? If you're giving me that force, how is your body not moving in the opposite way? WILLIAMS: It just goes right through you.
[Clicks tongue] NARRATOR: Mystical transfer of energy or just brute force? You be the judge.
And Jeff's not saying.
Well, not at the moment, anyway.
What can we be certain of? Well, trained samurai plus very sharp sword equals very scary stuff, even without that arterial blood spray.
And out yet again.
LIEBERMAN: Are you just gonna keep looping this? Yes.
Stand back.
Here we go.
Too late.
Our boys could do with a little help from an expert.
Clearly, I need chalk.
Welcome Liz Ford, twice named the Pro-Am female player of the year.
Liz has promised to show us moves we'd never be able to make, and we'll show them back in ways she's never before seen, the "Time Warp" way.
Matt's high-speed cameras recorded Liz's shots at 170 times slower than normal speed.
First, the break.
LIEBERMAN: This is the classic, where you see all the energy transfers through all of these nine balls at the same time.
You know, it's almost an instantaneous transfer of energy.
So you don't see any of these balls move until they all react.
And it's cool, too, that the 1 ball, which you're hitting head-on forward, has so much internal dealings with the other balls that it actually immediately moves toward the cue.
FORD: That's why we pay so much attention to how tight the rack is, to make sure all the balls are frozen.
Because if there are any gaps in it, you don't transfer the energies to all the balls as well.
LIEBERMAN: So, what about the stop spin shot? FORD: I'm curious to see that, actually.
NARRATOR: The stop spin shot.
That's well-named.
The cue ball hits, stops in its track, and spins.
LIEBERMAN: The most interesting thing to me here is, actually -- When you study physics, you study superposition.
So, you are putting a lot of forward momentum in, but you're also putting a lot of spin.
All right, these balls are the same mass, so that forward momentum gets transferred into moving the other one forward.
But that spin is all that's left.
And it acts as if the two things were completely separate and you took care of one, and you left the other one behind.
And I've never seen a better demonstration of how those things, those components, separate out.
NARRATOR: Now, spin has a purpose.
No, we're not talking about post-presidential-debate spin.
Let's stick with a game we actually enjoyed watching.
Ideally, I would not want there to be spin.
I would be hoping I was hitting the center of the ball.
But sometimes, you know, you hit a little right or left to where you want it to go.
But a lot of times, you use that to maneuver around the table.
NARRATOR: Now, how about a spin shot in reverse, what Liz calls a backspin shot? So what's gonna happen, I'm gonna hit low on the cue ball, make the 7, draw the cue ball back.
Okay, so you're giving it a spin that's opposite to the way it would normally roll.
It's gonna be sliding along the cloth while spinning backwards.
Very nice.
NARRATOR: Time-warped at 2,000 frames per second, it looks even nicer.
LIEBERMAN: That is a lot of backspin.
FORD: Oh, wow.
It just hangs there.
LIEBERMAN: That's cool.
FORD: I wonder how many times it just spins there.
Can you slow it down and show me? "Can I slow it down?" Ha ha ha.
LIEBERMAN: That's probably five rotations before it even goes one ball-length back.
FORD: Yeah, that's pretty cool.
It's weird.
As a player, you have a sense that it's just kind of floating there and stopping before the spin grabs, but I guess I never would have thought that it was spinning in place.
NARRATOR: Liz has one more trick on the tip of her cue.
What's gonna happen, the force of the hit is gonna send the cue ball this way.
There's gonna be some backspin on the ball, which is gonna slow it down, and then there's gonna be some right-hand spin, which, once it's moving slow enough, is gonna grab and take it back into the 9.
NARRATOR: Okay, we are seriously impressed.
That is really awesome.
FORD: I'm curious to see what happens.
NARRATOR: At any speed, this is an incredible shot.
FORD: So, you can see, it really does deflect to the side.
Oh! I'm barely missing that ball.
LIEBERMAN: Great close shot.
We got to back that up.
There's a lot going on.
FORD: Look how close I came to that ball.
-It's on purpose, right? -It's pretty good.
-How good is that? -Yeah, that's strategy.
NARRATOR: So, it looks like Billiards 101 class is about to let out, but not before putting a wager on the table.
LIEBERMAN: Yeah, it is.
You'll never make it.
NARRATOR: Jeff knows all the angles, but can he make the move? Uh, no pressure here.
Anything I got to think about for this shot? Think about the dime going into the glass.
You're a visualizer.
I get it.
All right.
Ohh! NARRATOR: We swear to you, there is no trick photography here.
KEARNEY: Nicely done.
NARRATOR: What is it they say about monkeys, typewriters, and Shakespeare? Ohh! NARRATOR: Given our obsession on "Time Warp" with speed, it was only a matter of time before we revisited the classic, the hummingbird.
Hummingbirds have always been a staple of high-speed photography, for good reason.
They just look cool.
But getting those shots is not easy, and when "Time Warp" turned our attentions to this little guy Well, let's start at the beginning -- catching one.
Here at Harvard's Concord Field Station, they know how to do that kind of thing.
LIEBERMAN: When they feed, how do you catch the birds for the study? We can actually catch them right here.
So I can give you a little demonstration.
We have this little trapdoor, and we can just let go.
See the door right there? The bird comes into the feeder.
We just drop the trapdoor.
Now, usually, we're the only ones bringing high-speed equipment on the scene, so we have a little competition here.
Now, what do you use the high-speed camera for? Basically, the movements of the wing when they hover at the feeder.
NARRATOR: Like helicopters, hummingbirds can hover and even fly backwards.
But how do these guys manage to hover and eat at the same time? Let's drop by the hummingbird drive-in and find out.
-There she goes.
Now we just hope that it finds the feeder.
NARRATOR: Gee, that took a long time.
LIEBERMAN: Compared to a human being, how often it have to feed itself every day? BIEWENER:: Probably about every 20 minutes or so.
I think the estimate is they feed about 2 1/2 to 3 times their body weight a day.
NARRATOR: Coincidence.
That's just about Matt's daily intake, as well.
All right, guys, I've got the high-speed rolling.
All we need is a little feeding to go on here.
-MAN: There we go.
NARRATOR: Now this gets it down to the basics at 5,000 frames per second.
BIEWENER: This is just beautiful footage to show us how the wing is rotating and how it's changing its camber, its curvature as it's moving during the downstroke versus flipping over during the upstroke.
NARRATOR: You're looking at 40 time-warped wingbeats per second.
-Is that the tongue right there? -Yeah, that's the tongue that's sticking out of the tip of the bill, and that's what the bird uses to slosh the nectar back as it's drinking.
One reason it needs to hold its head stationary is to be able to position the tongue in a very precise way to be able to obtain the nectar.
NARRATOR: When we eat and move at the same time, we end up with a shirt full of mustard.
To understand the hummingbird's trick for in-flight dining, we need to go inside again, but inside the bird itself.
So, this is the X-ray machine.
NARRATOR: This X-ray machine shoots 1,000 pictures per second.
We're going to put a spin on the classics by combining high-speed and X-ray photography.
For the first time, we'll discover how a hummingbird stabilizes its head for in-flight feeding.
LIEBERMAN: And the bird's in place now.
We're ready.
BIEWENER: The bird is well- positioned for these recordings.
NARRATOR: Put on the lead parka, lest some private bits get irradiated.
BIEWENER: That's it.
Got it.
NARRATOR: It's all over in a second with minimal radiation exposure to the hummingbird.
The dark spots in the image are markers highlighting areas of interest.
LIEBERMAN: So, nobody has seen this kind of footage before.
What have you learned right away from us seeing it? BIEWENER: You can see one shoulder marker that's floating around on the back there.
That large mass that's sloshing back and forth is the fluid that's contained in the crop.
NARRATOR: The crop is a temporary holding tank for the incoming nectar before it passes into the stomach.
It's moving completely out of phase with the wing stroke, so when the wing moves up, it sloshes forward.
When the wing moves down and forward, it sloshes back.
It's a very good solution for stabilizing their head to keep it still when they're feeding the nectar from the feeder.
NARRATOR: And guess what.
Before today, nobody had ever seen this before.
BIEWENER: That was a totally novel finding.
We hadn't expected -- or weren't even thinking of looking for that.
So, it seems like we might have a totally new discovery just in a couple minutes.
That's what makes science so much fun, of something we wanted to see and then find out that the film reveals something different that you hadn't expected to be there.
NARRATOR: So, just when you think you've seen it all before, you see something brand-new.
Nectar not only powers a hummingbird's muscles, but also helps to stabilize its head to feed in flight.
Amazing, sure.
But so are you.
The fluid in your inner ear works somewhat the same.
Sensors of the ear respond to gentle sloshing back and forth and keep you in a state of equilibrium.
Now for a relaxing time-out.
[Guitar playing] You have time to practice guitar? Plenty.
How long ago did you promise to make a coffee table? Oh, two weeks ago.
I'll get to it.
KEARNEY: We need a coffee table.
-What do you think, Matt? -Looks pretty -- [Glass shattering] NARRATOR: Our new "Time Warp" coffee table will be based on the principles of tempered glass.
So, it's amazingly strong in this direction, but on the edge, it's really, really weak.
We're gonna use that to our advantage.
So, let's get some gaff tape.
NARRATOR: Tempered glass is treated either with heat or chemicals to increase its strength.
It's under extreme internal stress, and along the surface, it's very strong.
But if any part of the glass is broken, the entire surface shatters into small fragments, which is why it's used in car windshields.
But tempered glass is extremely weak along the edge.
LIEBERMAN: All we need is to break the middle piece.
NARRATOR: Why, you ask? It's a design thing.
With a sharp rap from the hammer on the nail, we shatter the internal layer while the outer layers keep the pieces from exploding onto the floor.
[Crunching] Sounds like it's gonna break, but it's just a bunch of pieces sliding inside.
KEARNEY: I love it.
NARRATOR: Taking advantage of the properties of the tempered glass, we've created a work of art that's also a table.
Form, meet function.
KEARNEY: Know what we need? I'm making some coffee.
NARRATOR: If you've got something you'd like to see warped, check us out on the Discovery Channel Website, discovery.
And the warp you see just might be your own.