Indie rock aficionados have probably heard of the band Eels, and its eclectically talented, publicity-shy frontman, Mark Oliver Everett, AKA "Mr. E." (Here's one of their hits.) Very few people had any idea, however, that Mr. E's father was a genius and a cult figure as well -- in the field of physics. Hugh Everett III devised the theory of parallel worlds -- hailed by physicists today as a discovery second only to Einstein's theory of relativity -- but left physics soon afterward to work in the aerospace industry. But in twenty years of living under the same roof, Mark and his father rarely spoke, and it wasn't until after his father's sudden death in 1982 that he began to grasp just how important the man's work had been. And it was only recently that he took any real interest in it -- resolving at last to comb through the reams of papers and notes his father had left bundled in the basement, and discover who this misunderstood genius really was.
Earlier this year, the BBC aired an hour-long documentary about Mark's quest, a fascinating piece called Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, and it's just so flossy and wonderful that I wanted to share a little bit of it here. Part I is below; this is part II, and this is part III.