A New 3-Part Series Hosted by Physicist and Author Alan Lightman
On March 21st, Christian Brothers University will host, in the University Theater, a 45-minute special screening of Searching with live commentary from Alan Lightman and Geoffrey Haines-Stiles. Following the viewing, faculty, and students from the Rosa Deal School of Arts and CBU School of Sciences will engage in a panel discussion, concluded by a Q&A session with the audience.
In its three hour-long programs, SEARCHING asks deep and timeless questions: Where do we humans fit in the grand scheme of things? Why do we yearn for permanence in an impermanent universe? Are we just atoms and molecules, or something more? How does consciousness arise from the material neurons in our brains? What aspects of our humanity will be preserved as we evolve beyond biology, from Homo Sapiens to Homo Techno, part human and part machine? What are the smallest things in nature, and the largest and farthest?To explore these questions, MIT physicist and best-selling novelist, Alan Lightman (“Einstein’s Dreams”), engages in lively, revealing and sometimes even humorous dialog with Nobel Prize-winning scientists, philosophers, ethicists and faith leaders.
We travel to the prehistoric caves of Font-de-Gaume in France, where drawings and symbols suggest that—as long ago as 40,000 years—our early human ancestors were also searching for meaning. In Florence, Italy, we examine Galileo’s original telescopes. He was the first to show that the heavens are made of the same stuff as Earth, that the universe is impermanent, and that all is made of ordinary material. We walk through the giant atom smasher at CERN on the Swiss-French border, where physicists are trying to find the smallest particles of nature, and visit the laboratory of Nobel laureate Jack Szostak, who is attempting to create a living cell from chemicals present on primitive earth.
Lightman converses with an advanced android named Bina48, and talks to ethicist Ruth Faden about what moral obligations we might have to such a being in the future. He speaks with Nobelist Rai Weiss and MIT Dean of Science Nergis Mavalvala (a MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow) about their experiences in building LIGO, the gravitational wave experiment. Lightman quizzes neuroscientist Robert Desimone about the possibility of understanding the brain well enough to predict whether two people will fall in love, asks the Dalai Lama about the nature of consciousness, and speaks with philosopher Rebecca Goldstein (also a MacArthur genius) about meaning and the spectacle of existence.
Series host and co-writer Alan Lightman has served on the faculties of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first person at MIT to receive dual faculty appointments in science and in the humanities. He is currently Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at MIT. Lightman is also the author of numerous books, both nonfiction and fiction, including Einstein’s Dreams, an international bestseller, and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. His essays concern the intersection of science, philosophy, and theology and have twice been named by the New York Times as among the best dozen essays of the year, in any category. His writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Granta, Harper’s, Nautilus, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Salon, and many other publications. The Washington Post has called Lightman “the poet laureate of science writers,”
SEARCHING is directed and produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Geoffrey Haines-Stiles (Carl Sagan’s original Emmy-winning Cosmos, Creation of the Universe, NOVA’s “Is Anybody Out There?” with Lily Tomlin, Childhood and The Crowd & The Cloud) and is filmed in IMAX-quality Ultra High Definition worldwide. It features state-of-the-art computer graphics tracing our atoms from the “Big Bang to Us,” and showing the exact percentages and surprisingly inexpensive cost of the elements in our bodies. Part 1 also features stunning natural history footage in which Alan comes eye-to-eye with a wild osprey. All three programs come to life with an evocative musical score composed and performed by Emmy-nominated avant-garde cellist, Zoe Keating. Executive Producer is Erna Akuginow, Clarion, AAAS and “Women in Film” award-winner. The series is distributed for public television by APT, American Public Television. SEARCHING premieres on public television nationwide beginning January 7, 2023, and will broadcast and livestream on the WORLD Channel in early 2023 (check local listings.)