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Arts provost explores Isaac Newton in new play

An alchemist who believed he had unearthed revelation, Sir Isaac Newton was a genius with a medieval mind in the beginning of the modern age, obsessed with finding the unity of God's design through science, alchemy and the Bible.

Such is the premise of "Small Infinities," a new play by Alan Brody, associate provost for the arts, that explores the life and paradox of the father of modern science.

"I was originally urged to write a play about the Leibniz-Newton controversy over priority of the invention of the calculus," said Brody. "As I began to research the material, I became more and more fascinated by Newton, the man," he said.

"Here was the post-renaissance father of modern science with a thoroughly medieval mind, a man who may well have believed he was the prophet of God. I realized I needed to deal with more than the Leibniz controversy to begin to explore his rich contradictions," he said.

The Underground Railway Theater in association with the MIT Office of the Arts will present a stage reading of the play on Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 10-250. Jon Lipsky will direct the reading, which will feature actor Richard McElvain as Newton.

The reading will be followed by a discussion with panelists from the Greater Boston theater and science communities, moderated by physicist/novelist Alan Lightman.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 29, 2004 (download PDF).

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