Film Reviews

PARTICLE FEVER

By • Mar 5th, 2014 •

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The science fiction film is funded by scientific minds that are devoted to the unknown. Space and multi-dimensional travel, amoeba infestation, bio-mechanical engineering and cloning, are sci-fi sub-genres derived from the sciences that serve as architecture for this film genre. From the absurd and campy FLUBBER to the frightening possibility of THE TERMINATOR, cinema from decades past have offered the fantastic, the ridiculous, and the plausible. We are in a creative purgatory awaiting the scientific community to make discoveries and implement their finds into everyday life so filmmakers can take full advantage of the Higgs boson.

In a world where immediate gratification and short attention spans are part of the “now” generation as a result of science and technology, PARTCILE FEVER teaches that patience and persistence are not only virtuous, but mandatory. Sitting at the center is Peter Higgs, the theorist causing this whirlwind effort of international brainpower and finance to build the largest machine known to man – a proton smasher! It is after forty years of tireless dedication and dreaming that those who have the understanding and the passion to embark upon a scientific journey enduring hopes and incertitude, pioneering into the unknown, tethered to the possibility that it was all for naught, were rewarded on July 4, 2012.

Neurologically favoring the right hemisphere rather than the left, as scientific this article will delve is this: Simplified, Higgs boson is a particle that gives mass to other particles. Does it exist? The answer is: most probably. What does it mean? I really could not tell you…exactly. But, it’s been dubbed the “God particle.”

The film lacks Public Television doldrums or viewer prerequisite of college level science. Edited by Walter Murch, the editor’s guru, it’s the world’s greatest science experiment presented in a manner to interest the viewer. PARTICLE FEVER parallels the fervor of various scientists over their participation in the EUROPEAN ORGANIZATION FOR NUCLEAR RESEARCH (CERN) In Geneva, Switzerland and their anticipation over the Large Hadron Collider. Two types of physicists are introduced: Theorists and Experimentalists. Neither lurk in darkened labs with crazed personas nor are they perched bloviating to society. Both bare their insecurities and absolute dedication. Science isn’t all blackboards and brainstorming; it requires grunt work. Yes, science requires hard hats. The control room and the collider are images pulled from NASA and Hollywood.

On collision day, who knew that blips on a screen and charts would actually bring excitement to an audience? The day the colliders collided was a cause for champagne. The second day for toasting was when the data was presented. Around the world, some physicists gathered in universities as others congregated in Geneva. Much anticipation and nervousness abound. It’s comical to watch as physicists could not operate AV equipment and those tardy were locked out when it was show time at CERN. It was a triumphant day for science and a triumph for Peter Higgs.

Martin Aleksa, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, Monica Dunford, Fabiola Gianotti, comprise, in part, the over four thousand plus individuals who have been involved in this project. Countries at political odds work side by side. As Geneva basks in the gloriousness of scientific achievement, an American may ask, “Why there?” Well, once upon a time, a Super Collider project was to take place in Texas. Since this machine is huge and everything is bigger in Texas, this was the place. But, the powers that be would not let this be. One charming and insightful U.S. Senator stated that other nations should foot the bill and we should steal the technology like everyone steals ours. The end. Thankfully, gone are the days when scientists are accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake for heresy. However, appeals for large sums of cash from politicians who limit and behold the power to kibosh progression and understanding of our world and existence must be coaxed.

To be continued…Higgs boson research has only just begun. It has taken forty plus years to get an acknowledgement of a magic number leaning towards uniformity rather than chaos in our universe. Peter Higgs is in his eighties. Will he live to see the next milestone or all-out discovery? Will he watch the first film of this new sci-fi sub-genre?

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