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DEJA VU

The Mystery Of Deja Vu
While the action elements of DÉJÀ VU are all about realism, the unconventional underpinning of the thriller is an inquiry into just what the feeling of déjà vu really is—and what it might reveal about the workings of the universe.

Déjà vu, though a common phenomenon, has defied easy explanations by biologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and physicists. Current theories, as the filmmakers discovered, range from the psychological to the downright fantastical and include:

• Some neurologists believe that déjà vu happens when the brain latches onto a single detail—a smell, sight or sound—the familiarity of which causes it to confuse the past and present for a split second.

• Doctors point out that many patients with temporal lobe seizures experience the feeling of déjà vu, so it may originate from unexpected stimulation to that part of the brain.

• Some psychoanalysts believe déjà vu is a form of "wish fulfillment”—in which deepseated psychological desires come to the fore, as they usually do in dreams, but in waking life.

• Those who subscribe to the theory of reincarnation believe detailed episodes of déjà vu are evidence of memories of previous lives.

• Scientists on the fringes of new discoveries in quantum physics have suggested that déjà vu could be the result of parallel universes that accidentally intersect when the fabric of space-time is disrupted.

It is the latter theory that plays a vital role in the development of DÉJÀ VU's suspenseful and thought-provoking twists. In order to get a better handle on what pioneering physicists believe about how time really operates, Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott went right to the source: they picked the mega-sized brains of several world-class physicists, including Dr. Brian Greene, an expert on String Theory and a professor of physics at Columbia University who has written such popular explorations of general relativity and quantum mechanics as The Fabric of the Cosmos and The Elegant Universe.

Says Bruckheimer, "We wanted to do our best to really explore what the various characters do in DÉJÀ VU, including the scientists in our time-window lab. I've made a career of telling stories that take you inside a world you'd never be a part of, yet, we make you part of it through this movie. Balancing science fiction and science fact can be tricky and complex, but we wanted to start this dialogue in DÉJÀ VU and open our eyes to possibilities that, perhaps, are not as far-fetched as they seem.”

To get inside the surprising world of quantum physics, Bruckheimer and Scott sat down with Dr. Greene and asked him to explain some of the theories behind time travel and parallel universes to them as simply as possible. Greene, in turn, simplified the concepts on a blackboard for Bruckheimer and Scott. He explained that we live in a world in which we are not always aware of the tricks our minds play on us when it comes to the medium of time. For example, he noted that when you look at yourself in a mirror that is 8 feet away, you might think you're seeing yourself right now, but you are actually looking at yourself as you existed 16 nanoseconds ago! (That 16 nanoseconds is the time it takes for light to reflect off your face at the mirror and come back.) So, in a sense, you are actually looking into the past. We do it all the time. It happens whenever you look up in the night sky to admire the North Star—even though it appears to be twinkling right at you, in fact, you are actually peering at the star as it was 630 years ago. So one thing we know for sure is that time isn't always what it seems to be.

Getting into even more mind-bending concepts, Greene explained how some physicists now believe, based on the latest evidence, that there exist an infinite number of parallel universes in the cosmo

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