Everyone's heard of it; but what does E=mc2 -- the world's most famous equation -- really mean? And why did it change the world? With brilliant period recreations; NOVA dramatizes how an obscure young patent clerk; Albert Einstein; came up with his shattering 1905 discovery that the realms of matter and energy are inescapably linked. An accessible; suspenseful epic; Einstein's Big Idea reveals the roots of his astonishing breakthrough in the human stories of men and women whose innovative thinking across four centuries helped lead to E=mc2; and ultimately unleashed the power of the atom. Here are stories rich with achievement and failure; feuds and duplicity; love and rivalry; politics and revenge: Michael Faraday; the penniless blacksmith's son who fought the ridicule of the scientific establishment; Antoine Lavoisier; the cool-headed experimenter who fell victim to the guillotine; and Lise Meitner; the physicist who weathered Nazi persecution and personal betrayal on her path to discovering the splitting of the atom. As one discovery builds on the next; Einstein's Big Idea shows how Einstein's saga began with the personal lives of these pioneers and their years of persistence; ingenuity; sacrifice; and heroic struggle against the odds.