The Movie Snob gets a fever for the flavor of a boson.
Particle Fever (B). The Dallas Morning News loved this new documentary about the construction of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland and its “maiden voyage” just a few years ago. I’ll give it two cheers. I’m a lawyer, not a physicist, but I gathered from the movie that by the 1970s theoretical physics had gotten far ahead of experimental physics, meaning the theory guys had no way to test whether their outlandish theories were true. To test the theories, physicists needed a huge and hugely expensive piece of machinery that would duplicate and record subatomic conditions that existed just after the Big Bang–and, they hoped, create the theorized particle known as the Higgs boson in the process. A run was made at building the device near Waxahachie, Texas, but the government funding got pulled, and that was that. So the European nuclear agency built it in Switzerland, at a cost of billions of dollars, and in 2011 and 2012, they actually got the thing up and running. The film focuses on a few of the thousands of physicists involved, including a gal, apparently an American, who is doing her post-doctoral work right there at the LHC. You already know that the thing worked and it didn’t create an Earth-destroying black hole like some people predicted. The film gives only a minimal explanation of the significance of the LHC findings, but I was pretty much fine with that. I just enjoyed the computer graphics and watching the nerds get all happy when their giant tinkertoy (eventually) worked without falling apart.