Cleveland International Film Festival } March 25 – April 5, 2020 } Tower City Cinemas

No PhD Needed

April 06, 2019   |   posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers


The co-director of “Chasing Einstein,” Timothy Wheeler, states, “The film does exactly what Einstein would have done, ask questions.” His fellow co-director, Steve Brown, followed up with some examples, “Why do we believe what we believe today? Is it possible that there will be a completely different explanation in the future?... Could we be on the threshold of a paradigm shift, possibly of the magnitude of Galileo or Einstein?”

“Chasing Einstein” delves deep into these paradigm shifting questions which challenge the entire framework of the last 100 years. Brown says, “When you hear the conclusion of today’s physics that 96% of the universe is made of a type of matter and energy that is impossible to detect, it seems that physics might be hitting some kind of wall, despite its phenomenal success of the past 100 years.”

The filmmakers ask serious questions of the current paradigm in which physics operates. It explores the world of physics today, 100 years since Einstein’s breakthroughs. Brown continues, “The open questions in physics today are so big and some of the explanations are so bizarre that it feels like we are bound for another paradigm shift.”

In spite of these massive and complex concepts, “Chasing Einstein” is meant for a broad crowd of many backgrounds. Prior to interviews with physicists, the directors often shared this quote from Einstein himself: “If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” You do not need a PhD in physics to care about these questions, and you do not need a PhD to understand this film.

This attitude permeates “Chasing Einstein” and reveals interesting results. Brown elaborates, “The first question might be ‘What is gravity?’ and the first answer might be a technical answer. Then the follow-up question would be, “But what is gravity, really?” These kinds of questions continue Einstein’s thread of simplicity.

The approach allows physics to become more accessible. Brown said, “We were surprised to learn that some of the most basic questions turn out to be as much of a mystery to the physicists as to the rest of us.”

“Chasing Einstein” puts these universal questions into discussions of common ground. Brown remarked, “What we thought might be dumb questions turn out to be the most important questions that everyone still is trying to figure out.” The interviewees, the top of their field, are dealing with fundamental questions.

In the end, this is a film for anybody with curiosity. “Chasing Einstein” covers questions like, as Browns asks, “Where did we come from? Where are we going? What’s it all about?” The pursuit of knowledge is universal. Wheeler finished with, “There is a real spiritual element to science--the drive to understand.”

W. Connor Drake


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Related Screenings:
04/06/19 @ 7:45 PM – Chasing Einstein
04/07/19 @ 12:10 PM – Chasing Einstein

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