The Bottom Line
- Thoroughly covers topics related to Einstein's famous equation
- Provides a historical perspective for the discovery
- Exceptional acting and narration
- Some of the dialogue is a bit awkward, though only occasionally
- Chronology of events depicted may throw off viewers unaware with the history of science
- The DVD appears to contain no special features
- 2 hours episode of the PBS science series NOVA
- Narrated by actor James Lithgow.
- Based on E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis
- NOTE: This review is based on the show as viewed on PBS itself, not on the DVD
Guide Review - NOVA: Einstein's Big Idea
- Michael Faraday (and, briefly, James Clerk Maxwell) - force fields, electromagnetism, and light
- Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier - conservation of mass
- Emilie du Chatelet - demonstrated that Leibnitz's energy calculations, not Newton's, were correct
- Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner - splitting of the atom
One issue I had was the chronological structure of the show. Farraday's story is told before Lavoisier's, and both before Chatelet's, even though this is the opposite of the historical order. It can be somewhat disjointed unless the viewer pays close attention.
The actors do well in their roles, especially the key role of Einstein. His portrayal of the twenty-five year Einstein was spot on, including several scenes showing his disregard for the need to attend classes or pay attention to his instructors. The other characters are also excellent, bringing to life the lesser-known characters.
This is a documentary, though, and the actors are not the only players in the story. Author David Bodanis, physicists Michio Kaku and S. James Gates Jr., along with various other scientists and biographers, provide key insights along the way. The ideas are key, and everyone works together to present them well.