Cold Fusion – The Play

Cold Fusion

Cold Fusion

Theater is an art form that makes us face our inner demons and helps us deal with them.”

The phenomenon of Cold Fusion came to the limelight in 1989 when Dr. Stanley Pons and Dr. Michael Fleischmann, two world-renowned scientists, announced they were able to create nuclear fusion at room temperature in their laboratory in the University of Utah.  This announcement caused a major stir in the scientific community since it promised unlimited energy at minimal cost. As per conventional wisdom, two positively charged particles repel each other. Hence, in order to fuse two nuclei of Deuterium (an isotope of Hydrogen) and generate fusion energy, one would have to subject them to extremely high temperature and pressure to force them to come close and fuse together to create a new atom (of Helium). For example, the heat generated by the Sun is a result of nuclear fusion caused by the extremely high temperature inside the Solar core.  Fusion at room temperature seemed like a pipe dream. The scientific community rolled up their sleeves and tried to reproduce the Pons-Fleischmann experiment in their labs. Unfortunately, most of them failed to reproduce the  results. An inquiry committee was formed under the leadership of Dr. Huizenga. After a thorough investigation, the committee criticized the research for its unconventional approach and came to the conclusion that claims made by the Cold Fusion proponents were unfounded and it defied our understanding of nuclear physics.  Some scientists debunked the research as pathological science, although few continued the work under different names and descriptions but with limited success.

This story of Cold Fusion research intrigued me as I followed it off and on since 1989.   The conflict between those in favor and those against has been chronicled in several books.  The story had all the ingredients of good drama. So why not a play about Cold Fusion? And that’s how the play was born. 

What is the play Cold Fusion about?

Many, who hear the title of my play Cold Fusion, think it must be about some esoteric scientific topic that only nuclear scientists could comprehend. Let me try to allay your fears. Yes, the play does talk about science since it takes place in a research institute and the characters are scientists, but it isn’t about science. Cold fusion is a play about hope, about dreams and most of all, about love. When we experience something different, something that defies our conventional wisdom, something that challenges our deep-rooted beliefs, we feel shocked. We feel horrified. We go into denial and stop being normal compassionate human beings. We fight tooth and nail to defend the status quo. In the process, we often hurt those whom we love the most.

I would like to thank Pinaki Datta for taking up the challenge to direct the play, and thanks to the cast and crew of the production for giving my words a life on stage. I hope those who come to watch the play would enjoy the performance and be intrigued by the story of Cold Fusion.

Mahabharata 35: Duryodhan’s Malaise and Recovery

Duryodhan

Duryodhan

Duryodhan’s attempt to humiliate the Pandavas went haywire. He got into a fight with the Gandharavas and was defeated and captured. The Pandava brothers fought the Gandharvas to rescue Duryodhan and his entourage. However, instead of being grateful, Duryodhan felt humiliated and belittled by the Pandavas. Suffering from extreme grief, Duryodhan decides to fast unto death. His friends try to dissuade him from being so harsh on himself, but he is adamant. But Duryodhan recovers from his depression and returns to Hastinapur. Karna renews his vow to destroy Pandavas.
Listen to this exciting episode by clicking the player below, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Mahabharata Episode 34 : The Rescue of Duryodhan

Arjuna battles with Chitra Sena to rescue Duryodhana

Arjuna battles with Chitra Sena to rescue Duryodhana

Duryodhan plans to visit the Pandavas during their exile and humiliate them. But he gets embroiled in a battle with the Gandharvas and is captured by the Gandharva King Chitrasena. At the request of their brother Yudhistir, Arjuna and Bheem fights the Gandharvas and rescues Duryodhan and his family. Humiliated by this magnanimous gesture of the Pandavas, Duryodhan returns to Hastinapur.

Listen to this episode which marks a turning point in the story of Mahabharata.

Mahabharata Episode 33: The Virtuous Butcher And Draupadi’s Advice

Rishi Kaushik and the Bird

Rishi Kaushik and the Bird

When asked to talk about the virtues of a woman, Rishi Markandeya tells Yudhistira how a housewife advised Rishi Kaushik about the ways of life and led Kaushik to meet the butcher of Mithila to learn about Dharma. We also hear Draupadi advise Krishna’s wife Satyavama about how a woman should treat her husband and gain his loyalty.

Listen to the episode from the player below. You may also subscribe to the podcast, The Stories of Mahabharata.

Mahabharata Episode 32: Markandeya’s Visit

Matsya Avatar

Matsya saves Manu from the great deluge

Rishi Markandeya visits the Pandavas and tells them several stories from his vast experience. He narrates the story of the Matsya, Manu and the great deluge. He tells them about the celestial cycles of creation and destruction, and how the demons Madhu and Kaitava was slain by Lord Vishnu. Listen to these tales of Mahabharata in this exciting episode.

Mahabharata Episode 31: Arjuna Returns and Nahusha’s Curse

Arjuna Fights the Demons

Arjuna Fights the Demons

Arjuna returns from Indra’s palace in the heavens back to his brothers and his wife Draupadi in the Gandhamadan mountains. He tells them the stories of his conquests against the Nibata Kabacha demons and the demonesses Paulam and Kalaka’s army.  Next  we hear the fascinating story of how the mighty prince Bheema was about to be devoured by King Nahusha in the form of a giant snake. Nahusha asks Yudhistira,  who is a true Brahmin? Only the right answer from Yudhistira would save Bheema’s life.

Listen to the enchanting episode with flying airships, incredible weapons and deep philosophical thoughts by clicking the player below.

And please don’t forget to share your thoughts.

Mahabharata Episode 30: The Story of Bheema and Hanuman

Bheema meets Hanuman

Bheema meets Hanuman

Draupadi asks Bheema to fetch her the divine lotus.  Bheema, eager to please his wife, embarks on a journey to find the precious gift. On his way, he meets an old and frail little monkey. Little did he know, it was his brother the mighty lord Hanuman.

Listen to this delightful story which connects the two great epics of India, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.

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A Casual Chat with Parambrata Chattopadhyay

PARAMBRATA CHATTOPADHYAY

PARAMBRATA CHATTOPADHYAY

Parambrata Chattopadhyay is one of the busiest film actors in Bengal today. Noted as an actor of the alternative cinema, Parambrata has demonstrated his talent not only in Bengali films but also in the mainstream Hindi film industry. His performances in Kahani, Chotushkon, Apur Panchali, Kadambari and many others have made him a household name. Hailing from a family of filmmakers, film writers and critics, Parambrata is also a filmmaker. I got an opportunity to grab some time with him during his visit to New Jersey to screen one of his recent films, Kadambari. An engaging conversationalist, Parambrata discusses candidly his approach to cinema acting and filmmaking in this 20-minute long chat session. I hope you like it.

A Conversation with Suman Ghosh

Suman Ghosh

Suman Ghosh

The acclaimed filmmaker Suman Ghosh was in town. He was invited to New Jersey by Dhriti Bagchi (of Mrittika) to screen his recent film “Kadambari”. Based on the life of Kadambari Tagore, the wife of Jyotirindranath Tagore and sister-in-law of Rabindranath Tagore, the film presents one of the most intriguing stories of the Bengali cultural history.  I took this opportunity to chat with Suman about his filmmaking process, about his dual career (as an economics professor and a filmmaker) and some specifics about the film “Kadambari”. I hope you enjoy listening  to this not-too-long conversation.

Mahabharata Episode 29: The Story of Ashtavakra

Rshi Ashtavakra

Rshi Ashtavakra

The young Rishi Ashtavakra was born crooked at eight parts of his body. The deformity was caused because of his father’s curse. But later Ashtavakra saves his father from his ill fortune. Listen to this story and the stories of how lord Vishnu slays the demon Narakasura and later saves the earth by taking the form of a boar or a Varaha.