Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Most Unknown (2018)

Most documentaries are pretty straightforward.  They deal with something that’s known.  A documentary on the Civil War has a well-defined scope.  We may not know everything about everything on a subject, but there’s usually enough to present a view.  Even UFOs, there are things like Project Blue Book and Groom Lake to tackle.

How do you make a documentary on what we don’t know?  The Most Unknown is a self-proclaimed experiment in which the director tries to highlight several topics that aren’t that well-defined.  There are nine scientists, each dealing with something that we know little about.  One physicist deals with dark matter while a psychologist tries to tackle what consciousness is.

Another interesting thing about the documentary is the way that the various scientists are shown.  It’s almost like a relay race, where the first scientist meets the second.  The second then travels to meet the third.  In each case, the two scientists discuss the host’s field of study.  (The guest usually seems to understand what’s going on.)  What we get is a long string of snippets from conversations.

I don’t think it’s meant to be informative like a NOVA special might. It’s meant to give us an idea of what the big unknown is in different fields.  It’s showing that there are still things left to discover.  We may never fully understand what consciousness is.  We’ll probably never be able to catalog every species within my lifetime.  Even when these problems are solved, there will undoubtedly be new problems to solve.

It’s about 90 minutes, which makes it a bit long for a class.  It’s the kind of thing that could be assigned for homework, except that it’s available on Netflix.  It does look like there are screenings in theaters, but I don’t know how long this will go on.  I can’t say that you’ll be able to find one near you, even if it’s done indefinitely.  It is something that’s worth checking out if you have access to it.

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