Emmy award-winning actor Alan Alda revisited his acclaimed performance as the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman in Peter Parnell’s play QED, in a reading followed by a conversation with astronomer Vera Rubin and physicists Pierre Hohenberg and Stephon Alexander about Feynman’s life and work.
Reading from this exploration of Feynman’s life, Alda brought forth a moving portrayal of one of the most brilliant and colorful physicists of the 20th century. Directed by Gordon Davidson and featuring Mia Barron as Feynman’s student Miriam Field.
Alan Alda, a seven-time Emmy® Award winner, played Hawkeye Pierce and wrote many of the episodes on the classic TV series M*A*S*H, and appeared in continuing roles on ER, The West Wing, 30 Rock, and The Blacklist. He has starred in, written, and directed many films, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator. His interest in science led to his hosting the award-winning PBS series Scientific American Frontiers for 11 years, on which he interviewed hundreds of scientists. Also on PBS, he hosted The Human Spark, winning the 2010 Kavli Science Journalism Award, and Brains on Trial in 2013. On Broadway, he appeared as the physicist Richard Feynman in the play QED. He is the author of the play Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie. He has won the National Science Board’s™ Public Service Award, the Scientific American Lifetime Achievement Award, and the American Chemical Society Award for Public Service, among others. He is a Visiting Professor at Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.
Mia Barron is a theater, film and television actress. Her stage credits include Springtime for Henry and Heartbreak House, She Stoops to Comedy and Hedda Gabler. She appeared in 27 Dresses with Katherine Heigl and also has a recurring role as the voice of Molotov in the cartoon network’s The Venture Brothers.
Gordon Davidson is a Tony Award-winning theater director. He was artistic director of the renowned Center Theater Group in Los Angeles for more than thirty years. His credits include Broadway productions of Children of a Lesser God and The Shadow Box.
Vera C. Rubin is an observational astronomer who has studied the motions of gas and stars in galaxies and motions of galaxies in the universe for 75 percent of her life. Her work was influential in discovering that most of the matter in the universe is dark — it does not emit or absorb any light, and it does not interact with ordinary matter (which is made of atoms) except via gravity.
Rubin is a graduate of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York; Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (George Gamow was her doctoral thesis professor). Since 1965, she has been at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, where she is now a senior fellow. Among the numerous honors she has received are the 1993 National Medal of Science and also the 1996 Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in London; the first (and last) woman to receive this medal previously had been Caroline Herschel in 1828. Rubin is active in encouraging and supporting women in science. Her husband and their four children are Ph.D. scientists.
Physicist Pierre C. Hohenberg is interested in questions about the structure of matter under extreme conditions. A recipient of the Max Planck Medal of the German Physical Society and the Lars Onsager Prize of the American Physical Society, Hohenberg is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is Senior Vice Provost for Research at NYU.
Image: © Getty Images
Theoretical physicist Stephon Alexander explores unresolved questions about the early universe. Also an accomplished jazz musician, Alexander has collaborated with Grammy Award-winning musician Will Calhoun as well as Ronnie Burrage, Brian Eno and Jaron Lanier. He is an assistant professor of physics, astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.