A Tiny Particle

892 words | 3 page(s)

Physicists are a special breed of people. They are fascinated with things that seem intangible. They create complex questions about things that are a hundred times smaller than just being microscopic. Theorists have ideas based on laws provided by historical physicists like Isaac Newton. Experimentalists create ways to test the ideas of theorists. People who are not drawn to physics are correct to question if there really are objects like protons, neutrons and electrons whizzing in close proximity to one another. No one can see them. How do they know it is true?

The most entertaining aspect of watching the work of physicists is that they like to build gigantic machines, equip them with enormous energy and publish content about their awesome power. Why? They want to create and manipulate tiny, nearly invisible particles. They want to demonstrate smashing light beams and other particles together. They want to exercise their theories about collisions and Newton’s Laws. Honestly, this is the basis for the film called, “Particle Fever”. To explain the story of the film, it can be summarized by three key phrases: a big project based on theories, huge disappointments and a triumphant victory.

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The speakers in the film are so excited that for a few individual moments, they tug on the curiosity of the viewer. The construction site revealed the giant machine (with a name that understates the size) called a Large Hadron Collider. The LHC is responsible for validating the existence of a particle called a Higgs boson. This particle is significant because physicists believe that it is the one particle that is responsible for everything that happened in the universe. By ‘everything’ this means the Higgs particle (supposedly) enabled the formation of the solar system and all living things known to man. The Higgs boson is the one particle missing from something called the Standard Model of particles.

Physicists have solved the mystery of many particles in the universe and their properties. At the center of the standard model is the missing Higgs boson. In addition to the theory of the standard model, there is another theory called super symmetry (abbreviated as SUZY). The concept of super symmetry means that the standard model just one part of a larger, mega-collaboration of particles. A third interesting concept in the film is the Cosmological Constant. It is a number that explains what the universe looks like. Even after proving the existence of the Higgs boson, physicists are concerned about many more unknown particles believed to exist and which they are determined to name, quantify and analyze.

After the scientists launched the first beam of energy through the LHC, they were terribly disappointed. They discovered damage, dust and repair needs for the collider. It was very disappointing for scientists to return to the place where the LHC resides and take things apart, analyze clues and plan attempts to run their experiment again. The next attempt made everyone nervous because the media would be present and any mistakes would have been humiliating. They were powering the LHC as a total package of four experimental sections. They have been named LHCb, CMS, ATLAS and ALICE. Each section has a unique job such as managing power, taking pictures of collisions and sending data to computers all over the world. The event took place at the CERN European Control Center. There were giant screens in front of a room full of physicists and media folks. The boisterous opera music and clapping is the part of the film that would wake up any viewer (if they had fallen asleep during the first hour of the film). The screens displayed colorful images (referred to as data) of all the success they imagined. There was an uncomfortable moment about the initial LHC data.

It was the possibility that the Higgs boson particle might have a mass of 140 GeV (meaning that it is 140 times the mass of a proton). If that were true then the multiverse theory might be valid. The multiverse idea states that the universe in which life exists is a miniscule pocket within a much larger multiverse that contains other universes within it. Theorists equate this idea to chaos. Fortunately, the Higgs mass was not definitively determined to be 104 GeV. A triumphant victory was evident in the standing ovations and tears of joy on the face of Peter Higgs. He was credited with discovering the missing particle of the standard model. Data was presented from all sections of the LHC. After scientists found and identified the Higgs boson, the media jokingly named it the God particle.

In conclusion, Particle Fever is not for the faint of heart. There is some confusing, ambiguous rhetoric that could twist a person’s brain into a pretzel. For instance, one of the speakers said that the universe is expanding at a faster and faster rate. That was exciting right? Then he said that this rate is a million, billion, billion times slower than what scientists would actually predict. In final twist of ambiguity, the Higgs mass of 125 GeV has not proven or disproven the theories that physicists had before the completion of the LHC. It has not validated the theory of supersymmetry. It has not confirmed the multiverse theory. Ultimately the physicists had hopes that the LHC would provide answers to their complex questions. For starters, they found the Higgs.

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