Trailer: A Drinking Bird Mystery with Charles Bennett
Abstract. "Pioneers, At the Edge of Understanding," is a documentary series devoted to remarkable contemporary scientists and humanists who had the courage to question current paradigms, go against the “publish or perish” system, and remain (mostly) independent. It is a series of intimate encounters with those great minds of the modern world. Among its protagonists have been philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, mathematician Gregory Chaitin, physicists Julian Barbour, futurist Freeman Dyson, quantum tinkerer Charles H. Bennett, and cryptologist Artur Ekert.
I find the human element of a theory as important as the concrete outcome, verified by the Popperian trial-and-refutation method — and often overlooked by conventional means of science communication/popularization. Reducing the complexity of great intellects into a set of neatly trimmed selected theories, compressing this intricacy into an interview, has always been a source of frustration for me. Film is the method that records and saves at least some of them from being forgotten — and, hopefully, when cinematographic methods are employed, elevates a singular story to a level of universal metaphor. Pioneers is an expression of this reasoning. Each episode is tuned to the modus operandi of the person portrayed, and each grew organically during the process of close collaboration.
In this screening at the Santa Fe Institute, we will view an episode about Charles Bennett, a physicist and information theory pioneer. We meet Bennett strolling in the autumnal woods of Massachusetts, where he will tell a story about the ambiguity of the past, and the complexity of the present. We shall follow some tiny events like waves shaping the surface of a forest lake and ask whether they're doomed to be entirely forgotten — or not.