Mark A. Levinson
Director of the Award-Winning Film
In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a "bit" and laid the foundation for the information age. His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics. But when interviewed in the 1980s, Shannon was more interested in showing off the gadgets he’d constructed — juggling robots, a Rubik’s Cube solving machine, a wearable computer to win at roulette, a unicycle without pedals, a flame-throwing trumpet — than rehashing the past. Mixing contemporary interviews, archival film, animation and dialogue drawn from interviews conducted with Shannon himself, The Bit Player tells the story of an overlooked genius who revolutionized the world, but never lost his childlike curiosity.
Von Neumann, Turing and other visionaries gave us computers that could process information.
But Shannon gave us the modern concept of information.
The debate was not whether he was ahead of contemporaries—
the debate was if it was 20, 30, or 50 years ahead.
One of those rare moments in history where somebody founded a field, stated all the major results, and proved most of them all pretty much at once.
Just about anything that has to do with communication, storage and compression follows in some way directly from the contribution that Shannon made.
Born in Gaylord, Michigan on April 30, 1916
University of Michigan, double major in mathematics and electrical engineering
MIT Master’s Thesis "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits"
Relates electric circuits and their on/off character to Boolean Algebra, the "Mathematics of Logical Thought," laying the foundation for machines to make decisions — "to think."
Noble Engineering Society Prize
Summer at Cold Spring Harbor lab in NY
Marries Norma Barzman
MIT PhD in Mathematics "An Algebra For Theoretical Genetics"
Invented an algebra to study genetic populations
Sept—Oct, 1940 Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
25-year-old Shannon in NYC
Begins work at Bell Labs
A Mathematical Theory of Cryptography
Created field of theoretical cryptography
A Mathematical Theory of Communication
Created field of Information Theory
Marries Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Moore
First paper outlining how a computer could play chess
Presents "Theseus" a maze-solving mouse
Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford
Returns to MIT
Awarded National Medal of Science
"Scientific Aspects of Juggling," paper
Builds W.C. Fields drop juggling machine
First Kyoto Prize in Mathematics
Enters nursing home
Died February 24, 2001
A consummate theater actor, John Hutton was a core member of the Denver Center Theater Company for over twenty-five years, playing a diverse range of roles that ranged from Shakespeare (Othello, King Lear, Measure for Measure) to David Hare (Racing Demon). In 2014 he returned to the East Coast to stretch his muscles on the New York stage. On film, he has played Charles Sumner in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, and has appeared in television roles in series that include Murder of a President and Power.
A versatile actress on both stage, screen and television, Judith Ivey won two Tony Awards (Steaming, Hurly Burly) and was nominated for two more (Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, The Heiress). Other Broadway and theater credits include Piaf, Bedroom Farce, Blithe Spirit, Follies, The Glass Menagerie, and The Audience (with Helen Mirren). Her film roles include Brighton Beach Memoirs, Miles from Home, Compromising Positions, Harry & Son, The Woman in Red, Sister, Sister, In Country, Hello Again, The Lonely Guy, There Goes the Neighborhood, The Devil's Advocate, What Alice Found, and Flags of Our Fathers. Among her many television roles she is most often associated with her one-year run as B.J. Poteet in Designing Women.
A classically trained actor who studied at the prestigious American Conservatory Theater and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Kaliswa Brewster has worked onstage at The Signature Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Hartford Stage (Juliet in Tony Award-winning Darko Tresniak’s Romeo and Juliet), The Williamstown Theater Festival, American Conservatory Theater, The Guthrie Theater, Geva Theatre Center, Ma-Yi Theater Company, and The Contemporary American Theater Festival. On television, she has a recurring role in Showtime's acclaimed show, Billions, starring Damian Lewis & Paul Giamatti, and can be seen in 2017 as a recurring Guest Star on ABC's upcoming new series Time After Time. She also Guest Starred in Season 7 of CBS's hit show, Blue Bloods, and appeared on The Inspectors, Netflix's Daredevil and A&E's Unforgettable.
Before embarking on his film career, Mark earned a doctoral degree in theoretical particle physics from the University of California at Berkeley. In the film world, Mark has worked as a writer, director, producer, editor and sound supervisor on over 40 feature films. He has worked on such films as The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain, Goya’s Ghosts, The Pledge, Seven, and The Social Network. He is the writer/producer/director of the narrative feature film, Prisoner of Time, about two former Russian dissident artists in the aftermath of the Soviet Union. Most recently, he directed and produced the award-winning documentary feature, Particle Fever, about the discovery of the Higgs boson, the so-called “God Particle,” at the CERN Large Hadron Collider outside of Geneva.
★ Science on Screen
January 14, 2020
★ Sponsored by Orlando Science Center and Science on Screen
January 12, 2020
Orlando, FL, United States
Panel discussion with Mark Levinson, Elaine Raybourn, Nicholas Teague, Azadeh Vosoughi
November 7 — 8, 2019
InScience International Science Film Festival
Panel discussions with director Mark Levinson
★ Boston Area Premiere
November 3, 2019
LIDS 80th Anniversary
MIT, Cambridge, MA, United States
Panel discussion with Mark Levinson, Robert Gallager, Andrea Goldsmith
★ Science on Screen
November 1 — 3, 2019
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, United States
Each film screening will be followed by a faculty-led discussion
★ Paris Premiere
October 28, 2019
Auditorium du Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle Paris, Paris, France
Director Mark Levinson will participate in a Q&A via Video
★ Napa Valley Premiere!
October 15, 2019
St. Helena, CA, United States
Director Mark Levinson will participate in a Q&A via Skype
October 10, 2019
Reamer Campus Center Auditorium, Schenectady, NY, United States
Screening at 6:30 pm open to all, first come, first serve! Director Mark Levinson will be available for Q&A after screening.
★ S.F. Premiere
September 17, 2019
Alamo Drafthouse, S.F.
San Francisco, CA, United States
Food, drinks, gifts, raffle and Q&A with director Mark Levinson and Jimmy Soni, co-author of A Mind At Play!
August 2, 2019
Computer History Museum
Mountain View, CA, United States
Q&A after screening with director Mark Levinson
★ Open air screening under the stars in the wonderful Elysée gardens
July 2, 2019
World Congress of Science Journalists 2019
Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
Director Mark Levinson will attend and participate in a Q&A
★ World Premiere
May 29, 2019
World Science Festival
Museum of the Moving Image, New York, NY, United States
Followed by a conversation discussing Claude Shannon’s legacy and the impact of his work with MIT professor Robert Gallager and director Mark A. Levinson
Join The Bit Player mailing list to receive information and updates. Enter your email address below.