To respond to deep thought
's writeup, it should be noted that a lot of
the technical details were dumbed down severely in order to adapt Carl
's book to the big screen. I remember when I saw the scene
where they discover the primer
in the movie theater, and I had to restrain
myself from shouting at the screen, "Oh come ON!
pages together three-dimensionally would've been one of the first things
any scientist worth his salt would have tried!"
I just read the book for the first time last night, and was extremely
gratified to find out that, in the book version, spatially organizing the
pages in 3D was one of the first things the scientists tried. The
primer in this version was hidden through phase modulation, something
the scientists might at least plausibly have not been looking for.
But yes, the scene in the movie was much more dramatic. :P
The movie was great--I think it really should have won Best Picture
in '97--but as with so many other things, the book is even better.