Einstein's Big Idea 18 years old

The story behind the world's most famous equation, E = mc2

Einstein's Big Idea

Over 100 years ago, Albert Einstein grappled with the implications of his revolutionary special theory of relativity and came to a startling conclusion: mass and energy are one, related by the formula E = mc2. In "Einstein's Big Idea," NOVA dramatizes the remarkable story behind this equation. E = mc2 was just one of several extraordinary breakthroughs that Einstein made in 1905, including the completion of his special theory of relativity, his identification of proof that atoms exist, and his explanation of the nature of light, which would win him the Nobel Prize in Physics. Among Einstein's ideas, E = mc2 is by far the most famous. Yet how many people know what it really means? In a thought-provoking and engrossing docudrama, NOVA illuminates this deceptively simple formula by unraveling the story of how it came to be.


Einstein's Big Idea Cast

Name Character
Alex MacQueen He was 31, now 50 years old as Chater
Shirley Henderson She was 39, now 58 years old as Mileva Maric
John Lithgow He was 59, now 78 years old as Narrator (voice) U.S. edition
Steven Robertson He was 28, now 47 years old as Michael Faraday
Julian Rhind-Tutt He was 37, now 55 years old as Antoine Lavoisier
Christopher Eccleston He was 41, now 60 years old as Narrator (voice)
Samuel West He was 39, now 57 years old as Humphry Davy
Wolf Kahler He was 65, now 84 years old as Horlein
Christian Rubeck He was 24, now 43 years old as Otto Hahn
Ian Duncan He was 44, now 62 years old as Charles de Breteuil
George Layton He was 62, now 81 years old as Emilie’s Father
Emily Woof She was 38, now 57 years old as Lise Meitner
Aidan McArdle He was 35, now 54 years old as Einstein
Ty Glaser She was 23, now 42 years old as Marie Anne Lavoisier
Stephen Noonan as Marat
Anton Lesser He was 53, now 72 years old as Voltaire
Philip Herbert He was 48, now 67 years old as Count de Amerval

Einstein's Big Idea Crew

Name Department
Gary Johnstone as Director. He was 46 (now 64) years old Directing
Gary Johnstone as Writer. He was 46 (now 64) years old Writing
Einstein's Big Idea poster
Einstein's Big Idea (18 years)

The story behind the world's most famous equation, E = mc2

  • Release day: Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  • Runtime: 120 minutes