The physics behind the movie magic

Remember the Na’vi — “ the blue-stripped humanoid species with pointy ears and a powerful bond with nature in last year’s biggest sci-fi epic, “Avatar”? They were created in a physics lab.

In fact, the entire movie “stands out for the amount of physics that was involved,” Robert Bridson, a computer scientist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, told me in an e-mail. “A lot of the environments, and of course the characters, were completely computer-generated.”