Particle Fever

copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan

As babies, we face a bewilderment of questions.

Who is holding me, feeding me? What is it that I hear, touch, see?

‘When’ and ‘where’ will come later, but among our earliest, and likely the first we actually vocalize, is that gold-standard of questions, ‘why!’

The minute any of us little humans latch onto that one, our whole world becomes a place of mystery and challenge, where every answer generates more questions that must have answers of their own. And we begin to drive our parents mad.

Some of our questions have no answer at all, and we discover as we grow that those are the very best. They can tease and intrigue us for the rest of our lives, each small discovery bringing its gifts of knowledge and satisfaction.Particle Fever2.

Many of us find a profession in technology or history or (ahem) writing, any source of ongoing challenge that gratifies that ardor in us. Others seem to redirect or rephrase or, sadly, even quash the drive. Still others, perhaps the most blessed and cursed of us all, follow its lure to a lifetime of experiment and study, and perhaps to newfound truths about the universe.

Our history, our ongoing, stair-step advancement as intelligent beings, is way-marked by such paradigm-shifting discoveries. And yet the greatest of them, particularly in today’s sciences, leave so many of us cold.

The Higgs Boson, the most important discovery of recent times, was also one of the most dramatic, coming at an early stage in what was expected to be a search of many years, if indeed it could be found at all. Yet it flew by most of us in a day.

As with other ‘whys,’ the reasons for such disinterest are many. But for the Higgs, at least, there is a solution.

Go and find, somehow, somewhere, a video documentary called “Particle Fever.” Forty-plus scientists, actually working on the Large Hadron Collider, will explain their work to you, show you live videos of various construction and testing phases, and share their jubilant celebration at their success.

It will electrify you.

More information is here (Facebook page) and here, the trailer is here and a background video here.

About Paula S. Jordan

Paula S. Jordan is an Analog writer, former orbit analyst, and a blogger, with a an alien contact novel in third draft. It’s all her dad’s fault: giving her that science fiction book at seven years old!

4 thoughts on “Particle Fever

  1. Great topic, so well expressed in your blog here, Paula! The importance of the discovery is merely hinted at by the effort: forty years by 10,000 scientists. The most expensive machine in the world, in a buried circular tunnel 17 miles in circumference. The largest computer grid in the world, spread over 36 countries. All to find what is perhaps the smallest thing we can even imagine…

    I’ve often thought that the most addictive daydream in world is surely: Physics. There is no coming back from that mind-blowing free-fall!

    • Thank you for your kind words and your comments. I think what I loved most about the documentary — more even than the details about the discovery — was seeing the scientists’ passion for their work and joy in their success. It is the human drive for learning at its best.

  2. Paula, I put it on my queue. Last night I was at the Adler Planetarium, here in Chicago, and we watched a show about the Google Lunar X Prize ( Somewhere along the line we lost our interest in science and exploration, I’m not sure when it happened. I have mixed feelings about exploration being driven by private industry (I think it should be priority human endeavor stuff, i.e. government), but I’ll take it however I can get it!

  3. Wow! Thanks for the link, Steven. I didn’t know about the Lunar X prize. That is really exciting!

    Yeah. Somehow (history happens) we’ve let the dream slip away. I did a little figuring. Can you believe that we are 3 years further removed in time from Sputnik (1957) than Sputnik was from Kitty Hawk (1903)? Sad but true.

    But there is the LHC and the Higgs. Not too shabby. Maybe the LXP will restore that kind of determination for the space effort.

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