Irish Tech News are delighted to have seen a sneak preview of this film, to be screened on RTE at 22:35 on September 1st. It looks great, sounds great, and covers the topic in an accessible way that will keep general viewers interested as well as the more hardcore mathematicians and coders in the family. It’s a great reminder of the number of brilliant and influential scientists that have come out of Ireland. If you were to split hairs you might say George Boole is not exactly an unknown mathematician, but on the other hand it is important to remember that ‘Boolean logic‘ is probably not quite as widely known as we are Irish Tech News think it should be.
UCC AND OXFORD FILM AND TELEVISION PRESENTS
THE GENIUS OF GEORGE BOOLE
Lord Puttnam, Oscar Winning Film Director and Ireland’s Digital Champion, sets the scene for the film,The Genius of George Boole, by posing the question, ‘Is George Boole important?’ Puttnam’s answer, ‘I guess, no George Boole, no Google, no Amazon, no Intel…that makes him pretty important’ tells the audience that this unknown mathematician is a key figure in our global age.
Dr Rory McInerney, Vice President, Intel explains, ‘at the core of the computer chip is essentially a switch, an on/off switch, in today’s chip this is on a silicon chip so you have a transistor’. As the film shows the grand designer of this elegantly simple but radical idea is perhaps one of the world’s greatest unsung heroes, George Boole.
Jeremy Irons, Oscar winning actor and the film’s narrator asks questions about who is George Boole and why is he important? Global experts provide answers. Sitting in his office at Google, neuroscientist, Professor Geoffrey Hinton, the world’s leading expert on Artificial Intelligence and Distinguished Researcher at Google, reflects…Anyone who knows how computers work knows about Boolean logic …that’s right down there at the basis of modern computing. Co-incidentally, Hinton is also Boole’s great, great, grandson.
The film not only examines Boolean logic, but also seeks to understand Boole’s life and motivations finding clues in his humble background as a cobbler’s son from Lincoln, England, born in 1815 at the turn of the nineteenth century. Professor Des MacHale, Boole’s biographer, and emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University College, Cork is a key contributor to the film, outlining Boole’s life and his mathematics.
Boole’s genius was obvious from a young age. Without a university education and given his family background, finding a role within the formal structures of English society was challenging for Boole. Ireland, specifically, the newly founded Queen’s College Cork which opened in 1849, provided Boole with a job as the College’s first professor of Mathematics. This role gave Boole the financial resources to keep his family back in England. Equally importantly, the professorship at Cork gave him the freedom to pursue his mathematical researches and secured recognition for him within the academic hierarchy. Emerging from the Great Irish Famine, Cork in the mid-nineteenth century was in deep turmoil. Boole found the inequalities in this society challenging and in many respects he remained an outsider just as he had been in his native country.
The film asks if Ireland’s economic and social circumstances impacted Boole and stimulated him to question universal truths about the human condition and the mind of God. Dr Mark Hocknull, Chancellor, Lincoln Cathedral and Visiting Senior Fellow, University of Lincoln, discusses how Boole deals with these big questions. The theme is further advanced by Rory McInerney, Intel, who says, Boole ‘…was looking at human problems, trying to understand the way people think, what makes them human…’
The Genius of George Boole is an Oxford Film and Television production and is commissioned by University College Cork. OFTV has won many awards for its productions including two Oscars, four BAFTAs, two Indies, an RTS award, the Silver Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival and a Cable ACE. Filmed in Ireland (Cork), UK and US this 58-minute film shines new light on the life, work and legacy of George Boole, whose role in the digital revolution has been largely unknown. The digital world is in its infancy and industries in their infancy struggle to look back and investigate where the industry came from. This film redresses this and specifically focuses on an unsung hero of the digital age-George Boole.