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NOVA: Einstein's Big Idea
NOVA Einstein's Big Idea
Actor: John Lithgow; Shirley Henderson; Aidan McArdle
Director: Gary Johnstone
Genres: Indie & Art House, Television, Educational, Documentary
NR     2005     1hr 52min

Everyone's heard of it, but what does E=mc2 -- the world?s most famous equation -- really mean? And why did it change the world? With brilliant period recreations, NOVA dramatizes how an obscure young patent clerk, Albert...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: John Lithgow; Shirley Henderson; Aidan McArdle
Director: Gary Johnstone
Genres: Indie & Art House, Television, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Television, Educational, Biography, History, Politics, Science & Technology
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 12/06/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 52min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

What Every Documentary Should Be
Daniel R. Sanderman | Portland, OR United States | 11/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"EINSTEIN'S BIG IDEA is an absolutely fabulous documentary. This film truly sets the standard for NOVa and makes me lament the fact that more programming isn't done like this. If only the amount of money that goes into general programming went into PBS. That would be something else.

But enough of my own ridiculous desires. EINSTEIN'S BIG IDEA chronicles some of the most fascinating scientific work that has been done in the last couple of centuries. It is an idea so big that its implications have been vast, not just within the fields of science & mathematics, but in our society and culture at large. NOVA also shows how Einstein's achievement was not the happy accident we often see it as. Instead, this documentary seeks to situate his discovery by exploring the lives of other pioneers in related fields, richly filling out the personal lives of these scientists and, above all, situating their achievements in a rich history and context.

In the end, EINSTEIN'S BIG IDEA accomplishes two goals. First, I came away from the program with a bunch of ideas and information swimming in my head, the result of handing me the information in a digestible format. Second, I was entertained throughout the entire program. It truly didn't feel like I was learning--I was being entertained.

If only I could go back and replace some of the boring school films I had to watch in middle/high school with the sharp work of NOVA. It would have been a treat! If you haven't seen the excellent NOVA lineup, I suggest that you remedy it with a liberal dose! Happy viewing!"
A Superb Scientific Story
Osam Alwan | Bahrain | 05/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This program has more science than (Einstein Revealed, Newton's Dark Secrets and The Elegant Universe), although Newton's Dark Secrets has its moments.

Einstein's Big Idea is about the many contributions of earlier scientists leading Einstein to come up with E=mc2. It's also about the later usefulness of E=mc2 in nuclear physics. Unlike Einstein Revealed, which is a story almost entirely about the life of Einstein (private and public), Einstein's Big Idea is a story about science with its ups and downs. There are also some people stories as well, but they are added for dramatic value, which in my view helps instead of hinders the program.

I highly recommend this program for anyone who is interested in the evolution of scientific ideas (7 stars)."
I want to ride on a beam of light.
G. E. Nunez | Lilburn, GA USA | 09/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is by far the best documentary I have ever seen and it doesn't even feel like one. Einstein's Big Idea truly takes you into the journey of light itself. It takes a hold of you from the beginning with its wonderful introduction into these people's lives and achievements, and it doesn't let go until the end. When you are watching the fascinating stories that make up the equation E=mc2, you relate to the characters and their struggles as if you were part of their discoveries. I specially offer a huge praise to the actor that portrays Einstein (the resemblance is uncanny) who makes you believe he is the icon himself. It is amazing how quickly your mind fills with questions and wonders beyond your average everyday thinking. It makes me wish I was a scientist in this period of time when all bets are off and not even God can tell you what to do."
L Weiss | St. Paul, Minnesota | 09/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Just about to put this item into my cart for purchase, having caught it in mid-stream on local PBS programming, sat down to watch, and decided to share my excitement about it. I have a layperson's interest in physics and reality and religion and spirituality, etc, and a familiarity with bits and pieces of each. But, until this program, I had never been able to "wrap my head" around the concept of E = MC2. Every program I watched, every book I read, presumed some basic intimate previous knowledge of how this works...a knowledge that I simply did not possess. E = MC2 has become a catchphrase, widely used and perhaps not as widely understood...a stepping stone to other realizations but, if you're behind the curve, good luck on getting someone to explain it succinctly to you. This presentation showed me the concept in a way that no other had done...and I finally "got" it. I've always been in awe of the Universe; this show helped put into terms that I understand, a bit of how that universe works...and of the historical consequences of humankind's unraveling of this piece of the puzzle."