Me and Isaac Newton
Directed by Mike Adept
Admit it. You hated those geeks in high school. Bad at sports, fashion sense of a mallard, couldn’t get a date for money, but you loved to sit behind them at test time. Well, the world moves on, you’re selling tires, and these people don’t run the world, but boy, do they understand it. Nine scientists – including the odd Nobel laureate – discuss what they do, why they do it, and where they go on weekends.
Micho Kaku grew up in a concentration camp for Japanese in California. As a teen, he asked mom if he could build a 2.3 million electron volt particle accelerator in the garage. Sure, why not? Now Kaku is working on the solution of the Grand Unified Theory of everything and stands as successor to Einstein. He’s a pretty decent figure skater on the weekends.
Gertrude Elion began her technical career by measuring the acidity of pickles. Eventually, she made a serious contribution to curing childhood leukemia, eventually garnering a Nobel. Not smart enough to become discouraged, she plowed ahead and went where no woman had gone before, deep into the heart of biochemistry, and came out not where she planned, but with all our lives made that much better.
Some scientists know their career in childhood. Others kind of bump into it through the chaotic processes of living. Artificial intelligence, primate studies, cancer, all good stuff. Accompanying these lofty pursuits are political action and child raising, and we should know the scientifically minded have daily lives as well.
We ask, “what’s the meaning of life?” It has no meaning save what we ourselves give it. The nine scientists featured have created that meaning, and more. Their motivation, their perseverance, and their thirst to understand “Why?” are the center of this movie. Do you work problems that you know have an answer, or do you purposely tackle those that may never have a resolution? That’s a matter of style. It’s the journey within their own minds that’s important.