Particle Fever

This is a documentary about the search for the Higgs boson, aka the God particle. Spoiler alert: they think they found a particle. The particle was theorized in 1964, and finally kind of confirmed with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN  (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in 2012. I say ‘kind of’ because apparently, the folks in the documentary found one, and I mean one, and are not sure if that one is representative of all (so I guess they want billions more money and decades of time to find another one.) Anyway, the discovery is important because it validates many of the laws of physics, especially the theories of how the universe got started. After the Big Bang, the particle gave everything mass. I am not sure what that means, but I guess without mass everything would be like ghosts (I just made that up but I like it, so I am sticking with it.)

The documentary mostly discusses the design and assembly of the largest machine ever created by human beings (funny they say “human beings”–not sure who else might have built any kind of machine). That machine is the particle collider in Europe that is 16 miles long.   

The drama is that the tests not only could establish that physicists are on the right track with their calculations, but could clear up whether there are multiple universes or if the universe is based on super symmetry (and therefore not a multiverse I think). I won’t reveal the result details, but I’ll tell you that it is likely the normal person will not see any practical effects of the multi-billion dollar test for several decades. A big fear is that, based on the results, Higgs might be unstable, so…as fast as the universe all came together, it could come apart.

Much of the documentary discusses the beauty of the experiments being international, with the exclusion of the US. The documentary harshly criticizes the US for not wanting to spend a lot of money for something that was so far removed from practical application. The process involved 10,000 people from 100 countries and many billions of dollars.  

You’ll love it if you are a physicist or you enjoy lots of interviews with physicists who are either young male or female hipsters with real long hair or are old men in their 80’s. Since I do like that kind of stuff I give it a mild YES.

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TechBoom

Techie baby boomer from West Philly
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