Episode 173 – Norman Corwin’s Undecided Molecule

Norman Corwin Award for Audio TheaterThis week we continue our celebration of audio luminary Norman Corwin, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

We have a report of the birthday bash held in Hollywood care of fellow audio artist Rich Fish:

On May 1, the program at the Writers Guild Theatre was extraordinary. Leonard Maltin hosted and Peggy Webber’s California Artists Radio Theatre performed excerpts from, or cut-down versions of, three of Norman’s plays: MARY AND THE FAIRY, SOLILOQUY TO BALANCE THE BUDGET, and OUR LADY OF THE FREEDOMS. Performers, and those who gave personal tributes, included Ian Abercrombie, Ed Asner, Shelley Berman, Samantha Eggar, John Harlan, Richard Herd, Hal Kanter, Paul Keith, Norman Lloyd, Shelley Long, Tony Palermo, Melinda Peterson, Phil Proctor, Carl Reiner, Ken Stange, Simon Templeman, Tom Willams, and Joanne Worley.

During their remarks, Phil & Melinda announced the National Audio Theatre Festivals’ creation of the Norman Corwin Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre, which will be given every year on Norman’s birthday. This received great applause from the hundreds of people in the audience.

Note the snazzy award off to the right. Rich also sends this very interesting nugget of news:

NO JOKE – Scientists have succeeded in using a SINGLE MOLECULE as a computer.

This is not a gag, or an Internet rumor.


“Using quantum interference – the vibrations of the atoms themselves – the team was able to run the complete discrete Fourier transform extremely quickly by encoding the inputs into an optically tailored vibrational wave packet which is then run through an excited iodine molecule whose atomic elements are oscillating at known intervals and picked up by a receiver on the other side. The entire process takes just a few tens of femtoseconds (that’s a quadrillionth of a second).”

If I was a molecule, I’d be pretty excited too.

THE UNDECIDED MOLECULE, a brilliant 1945 fantasy by Norman Corwin, suddenly looks a lot more like Sci-Fi than fantasy. No one, I suspect, will be more astonished than Corwin.

On second thought, I could be mistaken about that…his Emersonian Receiver is really, really good.*

* “We lie in the lap of an immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

And to celebrate! The 1945 classic, The Undecided Molecule. Enjoy!

  • Rosanna

    Who could not be intrigued by such a title…and such a premise?!
    A criminal molecule on trial!
    Very interesting and pretty zany and clever at times.
    ……Hard to believe when this was created.

  • George H Zinn

    I am trying to find this script for a readers theater we are having in our city. Do you know where I might find the written script of this marvelous play?

  • George,

    Glad you enjoyed it! What a great show, hope you get a chance to perform it. Unlike some OTR scripts, I think performance rights are still held by Corwin so you should contact him directly.

    Try: http://normancorwin.com/modules/contact/

    They have a dropdown for requests about broadcasts and performance

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