2021 | USA | Animation,Documentary,Short

Shattering Stars

  • English 13 mins
  • Director | Peter Galison
  • Writer | Peter Galison
  • Producer | Peter Galison, Chyld King

A little-told chapter in the story of black holes begins in 1930 Madras, India. 19-year-old Indian physics prodigy Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (Chandra) is awarded a scholarship to go to England to study with Sir Arthur Eddington, the world’s most famous astronomer.  While on his sea voyage, young Chandra makes a major discovery that goes against everything his new advisor believes: that sufficiently massive stars, when they use the last of their fuel, must be crushed by gravity and collapse to something far more dense and mysterious than any object anyone has known. After years of work to refine this result under his mentor's watchful eye, at the most public of forums, Eddington denounces his protégé and his work, shattering him, driving Chandra from England to the United States. Despite his humiliation, Chandra perseveres, but pursues a more conservative path in physics, never again braving the limelight. Nearly a half-century later in 1983, Chandrasekhar is awarded the Nobel Prize for the work begun on board that ship to England. “Shattering Stars” tells the story of ambition and betrayal, of loss and perseverance at the pinnacle of scientific research. Making use of original audio recordings of Chandrasekhar, the film alternates its limited-motion animation between a representational-documentary and imaginative-subjective style.

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