Last night's program featured a film, rather than a lecture (August is a weird month, with a lot of people on vacation, and a lot of academics preparing for the upcoming school year). The featured film was the original BBC cut of Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, a documentary concerning the efforts of "Eels" frontman Mark Everett to gain an understanding of the life's work and legacy of his late father, the physicist Hugh Everett III, who proposed the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics (as opposed to the Copenhagen interpretation of Bohr and Heisenberg).
As an illustration of the Copenhagen interpretation, which (to grossly simplify things) posits the the observation of minute particles affects their properties), the Schrödinger's cat paradox, proposed by Erwin Schrödinger, gives us a grotesque scenario in which a cat in a sealed box o' doom is simultaneously alive and dead until an outside observer opens the box to determine the outcome of a bizarre experiment. The "many worlds" interpretation would posit that a divergence occurs, and that two parallel universes (one in which the cat lives, the other in which it dies) are spun off. Hugh Everett III traveled to Copenhagen to discuss his interpretation with Niels Bohr, with somewhat disastrous results, and his interpretation of quantum mechanics saw little acceptance outside of the realm of speculative fiction.
Most of the film deals with Everett fils tracking down his father's friends, colleagues, and "acolytes", and coming to terms with the legacy of a father with whom he had a cool, distant relationship. The film is emotionally moving, as well as intellectually stimulating, and the soundtrack is a good introduction to the music of the Eels. The perfidious BBC has disabled embedding for Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, so how about an embedded video from Parallel Lines?