Science plays can be an excellent vehicle for explaining complex scientific ideas to the general public, and Stony Brook has led the way in recognizing the importance of disseminating scientific knowledge in new and interesting ways. Last semester, students, faculty and staff from the University’s wide range of disciplines submitted 10-minute plays for the Stony Brook University Science Playwriting Competition to try to bring the sciences and humanities closer together. This project provided an outlet for scientists and playwrights to venture beyond their normal modes of thinking, spark their imaginations, and synthesize a new experience for us all.
The first prize of $500 was awarded to Robert Crease, a professor in the Department of Philosophy and a science historian, for his play “Trust Territory.” Second prize of $150 went to Les Hunter from the Departments of English and Theatre Arts for his play “Entanglement.” There was a tie for third prize, with $50 each given to Heather-Ayn Indelicato, staff psychologist in Counseling and Psychological Services, for her play “Effect Size” and Bryan J. Field, a physicist from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, for his play “Discontinuities.” Two plays received honorable mention — “With Strings Attached” by Luca Mazzucato, a senior postdoctoral associate in the Giancarlo La Camera lab, and “The Garden Gnome Extraction” by Faisal Qayum, a senior biology and psychology major, and Christopher Miao, a senior biochemistry major.
“Trust Territory” is about the collision between politics and science. “Entanglement” retells the romantic weekend holiday during which Schrodinger derived his famous equation. “Effect Size” is a quasi-comedic look at the ethical issues surrounding test subjects in research trials. “Discontinuities” tries to convey the confusion and difficulty of understanding something new, in this case Schwarzschild’s attempts to come to terms with his black hole solution of Einstein’s equations.
This competition was made possible by the generous support of the Simons Center, the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Department of Theatre Arts and the National Science Foundation. Professors Christopher Herzog, from the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, and Steve Marsh, from the Department of Theatre Arts, made up the competition’s awards committee.