AFF 2008 Reviews

The Atom Smashers

D: Clayton Brown, Monica Long Ross.

Tiny, theoretical formulas have been making huge news lately and not only on Wall Street. Scientists in Switzerland recently turned on the European Organization for Nuclear Reasearch's (CERN) Large Hadron Collider, a massive "atom smasher" with a 17-mile circumference designed for the express purpose of discovering the subatomic building block of the universe, dubbed the "God particle." Unfortunately, the Large Hadron Collider is glitchy and currently offline, which is likely cold comfort for CERN's American counterparts at the Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. They're the subject of this engaging, smart, and often wryly humorous look at the men and women (and couples) who man the front lines of scientific discovery in an America where science is not only no longer "cool" but is actively being barred from political discourse. Such is the fate of these unsung, genuinely heroic scientists as they race against time to beat their "competitive collaborators" in Europe while funding cuts and a potential Nobel Prize keep them working around the clock. Smart like Einstein and cool like Einstein with his tongue sticking out, Brown's tight doc may well be the only film you ever see that makes you long to be a particle physicist.

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