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This edition: Episode #102: "The Imitation Game" & "Into the Woods"

Episode Details

Original tape date: February 26, 2015.

First aired: March 20, 2015.

In episode #102 of Science Goes to the Movies, co-hosts Faith Salie and Dr. Heather Berlin are joined by cryptologist Rosario Gennaro to discuss The Imitation Game and Into the Woods. For the first film, they address a popular-culture rarity—a scientist who’s a war hero. Alan Turing’s massive contributions to the fields now called Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, including a method called “The Uncomputability Problem,” are carefully dissected. The importance of learning to reverse-engineer an algorithm, as Turing set out to do when he began to build his machine, also is explained. Prof. Gennaro references important details from Breaking the Code—a 1986 Broadway show and 1996 BBC drama about the Alan Turing story, both starring Derek Jacobi—that are omitted from The Imitation Game and ponders whether this material is too complex for effective drama. A discussion follows about where computer science might be today had Turing not died so early. For Into the Woods, the film adapted from the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, the co-hosts and Prof. Gennaro look closely at the way in which Sondheim’s complex music works with natural pattern-recognition and “meaning-making” in the human brain, the neurology of rhymes, and the often musically induced phenomenon of “involuntary memory.”

Science Goes to the Movies is made possible by generous support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Guest List

Rosario Gennaro Director, Center for Algorithms, City College

Web Extras

Alan Turing's Real Personality

The hosts discuss the personalities of geniuses like Alan Turing with Rosario Gennaro.

Is the Brain Wired for Music?

The hosts discuss the powerful effect of music on the human brain with Rosario Gennaro.

The Neurology of Happy Endings

The hosts with Rosario Gennaro about the roots of our desire for happy resolutions.

Alan Turing's Lasting Effect

Rosario Gennaro explains the lasting effect of Alan Turing's work in the digital world.