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SEARCHING explores the human questions raised by today’s science: Where do we fit in the scheme of things? How can consciousness, music, even love arise from atoms and molecules? What human qualities will we retain as we become part machine? Renowned physicist Alan Lightman questions scientists at research labs, as well as philosophers and faith leaders. Stunning visuals and evocative music bring the series to life.
PART 1 “The Stars & The Osprey” begins with Lightman's late-night experience alone on the ocean when he felt connected to the stars and ends with a memorable eye-to-eye encounter with a wild creature. Alan attempts to reconcile these transcendent experiences with the material world of atoms and molecules. Can science explain such experiences in terms of the brain? Are we humans nothing but matter?
PART 2 “The Big & The Small” dramatizes the fact that humans are almost exactly the same distance—in terms of powers of ten—between an atom and a star. But where do we fit in the moral universe? Alan speaks with an advanced android and then a rabbi, a bio-ethicist, and the Dalai Lama about whether such a being could achieve consciousness and whether we could unplug her without asking permission.
PART 3 “Homo Techno” features stories—including that of a paralyzed former gang member who received brain implants allowing him to move a robotic arm by pure thought—that prompt Lightman to think about how advances in science and technology are causing us to evolve into a new species, Homo Techno, part human and part machine. What essential qualities will we want to preserve? Curiosity? Anger? Love?
Alan Lightman has served on the faculties of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is currently Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at MIT. Lightman is also the author of numerous books, including the international bestseller Einstein’s Dreams, and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. His essays concern the intersection of science, philosophy, and theology and have been twice named by the New York Times as among the best dozen essays of the year, in any category. The Washington Post has called Lightman “the poet laureate of science writers.”
SEARCHING is directed and produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Geoffrey Haines-Stiles (Carl Sagan’s original Emmy-winning Cosmos, Creation of the Universe, Childhood and The Crowd & The Cloud) and is filmed in IMAX-quality Ultra High Definition worldwide. The evocative musical score was composed and performed by Emmy-nominated avant-garde cellist, Zoe Keating. Executive Producer is Erna Akuginow, Clarion, AAAS and “Women in Film” award-winner.
Produced by Geoff Haines-Stiles Productions, Inc., 2022.