Wednesday, 17 June 2015

From Edfringe 2013: The Principle of Uncertainty....

A professor walks through some of the most mysterious concepts of quantum mechanics (the double slit experiment, Schroedinger's cat, the many- -worlds of Hugh Everett III) to present a wonderful world made of mysteries and paradoxes. 

But in the midst of all that awe- -inspiring joy lies a disquieting truth. The lecture turns into a confession that mixes some of the most advanced ideas of quantum mechanics with the professor's secrets, pushing him into an extreme, final decision.

To support the stage work of Andrea Brunello there is the musician Enrico Merlin. The connection between voice and music, text and sounds brings the audience to experience a deep theatrical experience without ever denying the rigorous scientific contents of the play.

The show has been performed internationally at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013, at the Edinburgh 2014 International Science Festival and will be on stage at the ECSITE 2014 Annual Conference. The show has also been performed all over Italy in theatres, festivals and science festivals, museums, schools, universities, etc.

The Principle of Uncertainty is a show created within the JET PROPULSION THEATRE (JPT) project framework.

Interview with Andrea Brunello

First of all - can I ask why you went with uncertainty
as the 'lead idea' for the show?

The idea for the show came to me in the summer of 2011 when my son was very sick and I found myself thinking "if he goes, I go too". But where do I go? 

So I started to think about parallel universes, what would be the probability of ending up in the same new world with him, the paradox of Schroedinger's cat, quantum mechanics and inevitably my thoughts went to the principle that is at the basis of it all, the Uncertainty Principle.

The Uncertainty is wonderful because it makes things a bit "fuzzy", not predictable. So one "really never knows". This makes our universe extremely exciting. 

As the noted physicist, Nobel Prize winner and fellow Cornell graduate Steven Weinberg wrote in 1977, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless”. 

Uncertainty prevents the universe from becoming pointless. Ah… by the way… my son got better and is now a very healthy boy, so I never had to really test the theory of the parallel universes...

What is it about Feynman that inspired you?
Ever since I was a physics student at Cornell University I had a deep fascination with Feynman. To me he represents the essence of the new renaissance man. He was curious, clever, optimistic, courageous, deep, offbeat. 

At the same time he was not a man from another planet: he was deeply human, he had his down moments, he made mistakes and took the responsibility for them. He loved physics but he loved everything about our world: nature, sex, art, music. He was a lover of Nature. He was also a great teacher: he didn't give students what they wanted - answers, but what was really good for them - a way of thinking, a structure with which to cope with even the deepest problems.
When I was thinking of the structure of my play The Principle of Uncertainty I ended up thinking about how he dealt with problems, how he made a big distinction between science and philosophy, about the scientific method and what he called "cargo-science", about his ideas on education. The result is that, although the play is not "about" him, it certainly is "with" him.

And the inevitable question - why do you think that quantum physics is a good thing to put on the stage?
We live in a very scientific world. In our universities and
research centres there are innumerable clever people who continuously make discoveries about our world. My feeling is that deep scientific ideas have the ability to change the way we look at the world, at ourselves, our place in the universe. 

At its purest level science becomes philosophy of life. Quantum Physics is an example of all this. If we can lift our gaze from our everyday common troubles and start to look at the universe through the eyes of science, without fears and without misconceptions, then we discover a precious, enchanting world. With my show I try to do just that… in a theatrical way, of course!

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