Friday, March 18, 2005
Deepen the Mystery
Blogging is breaking out all over! Lauren Gunderson, a playwright and actor from Atlanta, has started a blog called Deepen the Mystery. (Aside: why is someone who "writes" "plays" called a "playwright"? I mention this only as an excuse for consistently misspelling this elementary word.)
I met Lauren at the Santa Barbara conference; her special expertise is writing plays with scientific themes. One of them, Background, tells the story of Ralph Alpher, who, along with Robert Herman and George Gamow, pioneered the Big Bang model. They more or less figured out the whole story, including predictions for primordial nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background. Absolutely ground-breaking work, well above the conventional standard for winning the Nobel Prize and much more -- but when the CMB was actually discovered by Penzias and Wilson in 1965, there was practically no recognition of their work. To this day, although the names of Alpher, Gamow, and Herman are certainly mentioned, they aren't emphasized as much as they should be. (Alpher and Herman have written a slightly bitter book about the whole thing.) The play tells Alpher's story backward in time -- just as we reconstruct our understanding of the Big Bang.
Lauren's new blog features a picture of the author jumping with enthusiasm for the new medium. Mark Trodden's does not. Does this reflect a difference between women and men, or between humanists and scientists? Whatever the explanation, we should be grateful.