A brief search of the archives reveals that I truly have not done my job in plugging Particle Fever, the new documentary about particle physics and the Large Hadron Collider. I guess it would have been a bit premature, as the movie hasn’t technically been released yet. But here it comes! And the trailer captures a bit of the excitement:
Particle Fever is the brainchild of David Kaplan, a young (younger than me, anyway) particle theorist at Johns Hopkins who was crazy enough to think he could make a feature film in his spare time. (Actually David told me that his first idea was to write a book, but the act of writing was just too painful, so obviously he decided to take an easier route.) Readers of The Particle at the End of the Universe will be familiar with David’s story, which I told as part of exploring how physics proceeds in our ever-more-complicated media landscape.
Some people will doubtless feel that a movie about particle physics is self-indulgent and unnecessary. The polite term for such people is “poopyheads.” (You can imagine some of the impolite terms.) The experimentalists and technicians who built the LHC, and the theorists who built the theories that the machine tests, are human beings who have devoted their lives to a rather esoteric pursuit — but one that is truly universal, uncovering the basic rules of the cosmos in which we all live. This is an important story to tell.
Long a labor of love on the part of David and his intrepid crew of filmmakers, Particle Fever was picked up for distribution the same day the Nobel Prize was announced for Englert and Higgs, and will be officially released on March 5. Early reviews have been glowing. Depending on where you live, you might be able to catch a theatrical release, but before too long I’m sure you will be able to see the film using one of those gizmos that beams media content straight to your living room. What a world we live in.