Sagan & Curie, two atheist Professors of Biology, fall in love while in the late night lab studying the effects of a drug on monkey mating, as a precursor to FDA approval of a new male impotence medication.
The data is inconclusive; the male monkeys administered the drug had only .01% more erections than the males who took a sugar pill placebo. Yet 10% of the male subjects suffered convulsions and fits of rage.
Nonetheless, the University research supervisors declare the drug a success.
So the drug gets FDA approval.
Sagan & Curie get promoted to the position of team leaders on a trials of a drug that supposedly alleviates the symptoms of Monkey AIDS.
While on a late-night research experiment, Curie administers the drug to Simi, a chimpanzee.
Simi gets sick.
Curie prepares to give the chimp a pill to ease her stomach pain.
Sagan instead gives the chimp a deep belly massage. The chimp relaxes and falls asleep.
Curie complains that she is also feeling bad, having empathetic pain for the chimp.
Sagan helps Curie hobble to an examination table, lays her down on it, and gives her a deep belly massage.
Curie is surprised that he presses so deep.
He says, “It only hurts while I'm pressing.”
He removes his hand. She agrees (the pain stops).
Sagan says he learned this technique from an old Chinese holistic healer who used to visit their house, where his Harvard-hippie dad invited all kinds of alternative health people.
Curie feels better as Sagan massages her.
He works on her feet, shoulders, face.
They both become aroused, faced flushed, breathing heavy.
Sagan & Curie go to a relationship counselor.
After 30 minutes, Sagan realizes that the counselor is a Christian counselor. So Sagan storms out of the counseling session.
The counselor explains to Curie that Sagan has some deep emotional secret that is causing him to harbor extreme antipathy toward all things religious.
Curie goes back to Sagan.
She continues the relationship, while hiding from Sagan the fact that she keeps going back to the counselor, seeking counsel in part because she sees that the drugs they are giving the chimps are making the chimps sick, but the University will not call off the trials, because the supervisor is getting enormous kickbacks from the pharmaceutical company.
Curie experiences more and more empathetic illness.
Sagan's treatments to her become more and more arousing and intense.
Sagan proposes that they have sex.
Curie says she is a virgin and will only have sex if they get married.
Sagan says, "Fine, if you need a piece of paper to prove I love you, fine."
Sagan gets Curie a ring. He tells her to arrange the church wedding.
Curie goes to the Christian counselor, who tells Curie that she must make a choice of how she plans to live: as a Christian, or an Atheist.
Curie converts to Christianity and questions evolution.
Sagan, a devout atheist, berates her.
Curie says Sagan cannot touch her again until he becomes a Christian.
Sagan studies (atheist religion critic) Bertrand Russell's writing. Sagan points out lots of logical flaws in the dogma Curie's church teaches.
Curie and Sagan separate.
Curie loses her job for refuting the University's standard scientific assumptions regarding origins and evolution.
Sagan defends Curie, coming to believe that she is right insofar as the scientific dogma has not been proven.
During the defense Sagan and Curie grow close again.
Curie sees that most people practicing religion are doing so as an economic club, not truly obeying Christ's commands.
Sagan sees that University and Research politics are run with similarly hypocritical faith-based commercial cliques.
Sagan & Curie feel like they are alone against the world.
Sagan prays a sort of scientific prayer.
Curie admits that she really doesn't know anything.
Sagan & Curie agree that "if anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know as he ought to know."
Sagan & Curie agree to marry as members of the same "religion:" those who live devoted to the search for truth regardless of all the social or religious pressure from the world.
And Sagan finally gets to know what all those monkeys in the cage were so excited about.
During a late night research experiment, they administer a drug to a monkey, Simi.
Sagan & Curie watch with handheld voice record transcribers, commenting on the changes in vital signs and mood