United World Project


Science and peace: a necessary dream

25 May 2024   |   , Film,
Imagen de Bruno en Pixabay
Imagen de Bruno en Pixabay

A thought on the delicate role of science in the construction of the common good, of peace and unity worldwide (not in the division that generates violence), through a series and two films.

This year marks 150 years since the birth of Guglielmo Marconi (1874), the first and most important creator and developer of radio wave telecommunications and wireless telegraphy, the evolution of which led to the birth of the radio and TV. The father of communication, a genius (Nobel Prize for Physics in 1909), that the Italian television paid tribute to this important anniversary with a TV series entitled “Marconi – The Man Who Connected the World” (available in Italy on Raiplay). A work of four episodes that testifies the actuality of the figure (interpreted by Stefano Accorsi) already with the word “connected” in the subtitle: a verb that feels contemporary, belonging to the future. The series, however, opens with thoughts that are way deeper and more complex. The Marconi here narrated expresses of having put to service his talent for all, in a time less complex and violent than ours.

It is 1937, in the full fascist era, now just a few years into World War II, but to those who remind him that his work is to “ensure the country’s prosperity,” Marconi responds by saying that he prefers the prosperity “of the whole of humanity” to that of one person. Already by this quick exchange of words, an ancient and complex relation between the concepts of science, discovery, technological development, and invention with those of humanity, moral and ethical sense, unity, and fraternity takes shape.

This small dialogue gives one reason why science should be at the service of the highest ideals, of peace and unity among the people, and how it must serve the only good of the whole world. Not to someone’s privilege over someone else.

And yet, because of its importance, science may be used as a decisive instrument and, in extreme cases, as an actual weapon. Last February, a docufiction entitled Einstein and the Bomb was released on Netflix, with the protagonist immersed in the same period as Marconi (Einstein grappling with Nazism), and even in this work, an articulate thought is born: What is the function of science when it produces a nuclear bomb? What value and sense does a science that produces an instrument that is such an enemy of man have?

The protagonist personally talks about this dilemma experienced as a torment, as being involved, in some way, with his research, with his genius, in rendering imaginable that horrible object of destruction.

It is impossible, watching this rigorous documentary and observing the fiction on Marconi, not to think about Oppenheimer by Christopher Nolan, in which there’s a sentence addressed to the protagonist, who is also a physics genius, “You are the man that has given men the power to destroy themselves.”.

Knowledge and peace can be conflicted through these inveinctions, and such tension can live within these characters themselves, as seen in the above titles, subject to the pressure of a politics too often concentrated on the interests of their own borders than of the world in general. A political egocentrism fueled by the growing fear of others.

To shrug off the gloomy and painful clouds over this thorny issue, other words come from the series Marconi – The Man Who Connected the World. In fact, there’s a monologue at the end of the story in which the protagonist reiterates his conception of discovery as an instrument for breaking down boundaries to make the people who live in the world friendlier and closer. Not as an element to create the antagonisms and divisions that terrify him and that break him, questioning “the very idea of man,” Marconi adds.

The scientist and inventor to whom we in a way owe the birth of the internet defines “true science – as the matter that – improves existences by acting as a good force, not a destructive one. So – concludes a bright and wise Marconi – let us serve ourselves with his marvelous conquests to reach the highest goal: peace and solidarity among all people.”.

A subtle search for universal fraternity to be conquered through the relation between science, technology, and communication accompanies this series on Marconi, spreading in a way a message to our present over which winds of distrust and anguish blow. Today, more than ever, we must reflect on the fundamental (yet delicate) role that science plays in the actual progress of human beings and how this must work with the dream and concrete purpose of building a united world.