"Particle Fever": A Search for What Really Matters

Following a handful of the thousands of scientists who worked on the Large Hadron Collider, the fact that Mark Levinson's engrossing Particle Fever was edited by the great Walter Murch gives it a better pedigree than most documentaries. The "fever" is that of the scientists, many of whom have spent the past few decades working on the collider in hopes of finding the theoretical Higgs boson. Some are now worried that with the imminent activation of the collider, their life's work will come to naught: Even if the Higgs is conclusively proven to exist, a matter as seemingly simple as the particle's mass could raise the existentially terrifying possibility that they've learned all that is learnable in their field — a field that encompasses the universe. Particle Fever devotes surprisingly little attention to the media fervor surrounding the LHC, with only passing references to the cringe-worthy term "the God particle," or the conspiracy theory that the collider would create a black hole and destroy Earth. It didn't, and it (probably) won't, though editor Murch does visually associate both the collider and the Higgs with the famous statue of Shiva destroying the universe. The image is a not-so-subtle reminder that we may be tampering in God's domain, but Particle Fever makes a strong case that it's worth the risk.

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