Directed by Robert "Forest Gump" Zemeckis, and based on the novel by Carl Sagan, Contact was released in 1997. Jodie Foster plays her usual non-conformist, independent and free-spirited character, this time occupied as a radio astronomer obsessed with finding proof of alien life. With the help of 27 massive radio telescopes in Socorro, New Mexico (the aptly named Very Large Array), she discovers a broadcast from deep space. The seriousness of the film rackets up a notch as we go into Capital Letters.
The Message turns out to be a spec manual for an enormous and expensive Machine. Unfortunately the instructions for the Machines use, it?s purpose, and the consequences of actually using it, are entirely vague outside of the technical detail. Still, the billions needed for the mysterious alien project turn up and a couple of the machines are built. Personally, I have problems just getting to IKEA and back with Storage Solutions that actually fit in the car.
The machine turns out to be an intergalactic transportation device, consisting of three distinctive parts: a central sphere composed of giant whirling metal rings; the actual vehicle, which is a small, single passenger sized pod; and a sky-scraper tall gantry for dropping the pod from a tremendous height through the moving rings.
In the film the rings are whirling for a reason ? their acceleration creates a wormhole so that the pod can be dropped through to an otherwise impossibly distant point in space. Although I?m sure Engadget readers can think of plenty of people they?d like to nominate for a free ride whether it actually worked or not.