Particle Fever


Action / Documentary

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 95%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 84%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 6515


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May 28, 2015 at 03:53 AM



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754.94 MB
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1hr 39 min
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24.000 fps
1hr 39 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by l_rawjalaurence 8 / 10

Engaging Documentary That Tells Us a Lot About the Ways in Which 'Science' is Viewed in Western Cultures

Superficially PARTICLE FEVER is a quest-narrative charting the search by a group of 4000 physicists at a variety of locations - Geneva, Princeton, Texas, for a particle that might provide the key to the way the universe works. There are several obstacles placed along the way, including an inconvenient breakdown of the machinery used to conduct the experiment, but the film ends on an optimistic note as the quest is concluded, and everyone celebrates through internet links.

Mark Levinson's film contains a fair amount of technical language spoken by a variety of interviewees, including physicists Martin Aleksa, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, and Fabiola Gianotti (among others). A lot of it is difficult, well nigh incomprehensible for nonspecialists to understand, but as the documentary unfolds, it soon becomes clear that the quest to prove the theories behind the particles is a peripheral element of the narrative. Levinson is far more interested in showing how the project involves representatives from different nations working together in a community of purpose - even those originating from countries (e.g. the United States, Iran and Iraq), which are supposedly at war with one another. The sight of them participating so enthusiastically offers a hope for the future; beneath the rhetoric expressed by politicians and warmongers there lurks a genuine desire for co-operation across cultures. Perhaps if more attention were paid to these initiatives, then the world might be a safer place.

More significantly, Levinson's film shows that the so-called "two cultures" theory espoused by C. P. Snow and other writers has been satisfactorily exploded. Snow insisted that the "arts" and the "sciences" could never work cohesively with one another: one was interested in "ideas," the other in "truths." PARTICLE FEVER begins by insisting that the scientists are pursuing universal "truths" that would help individuals understand the worlds they inhabit; but as the documentary unfolds, so several of the scientists admit that their conclusions will be tenuous at best, and always subject to renegotiation. Put another way, they admit that "truth" is a relative term, dependent on the context in which the term has been employed; this knowledge lies at the heart of all "artistic" endeavors as well. We understand that both communities are engaged in similar activities; the need to discover new things about the world we inhabit and share them with others. This is what drives new research, irrespective of whether it is in the "arts" or the "sciences."

Ultimately PARTICLE FEVER is an uplifting film that demonstrates the value of common research, and how it can be conducted across all platforms and all disciplines. Let us hope that the group of scientists have been inspired to continue their valuable work.

Reviewed by steven-leibson 7 / 10

Meet the people who "found" the Higgs boson at CERN

This is a documentary that physicists will love, as will others who really love science. It's the kind of film that carefully explains the difference between theoretical and experimental physicists. If that kind of distinction interests you, then you will like the film. A lot of physics jargon is tossed around in this film with no explanation so you need to bring a working knowledge of particle physics if you want to fully understand the discussions. If you don't know what a GeV is and that lack of knowledge is going to bother you, then you will not like this film. If you enjoy an explanation of the opposing physics theories of supersymmetry and the multiverse, then this is your film. Also, if math scares you, there are blackboards and whiteboards full of some of the hairiest equations you're likely to see. If you find such things frightening, just turn away.

However, if you'd like to meet people who have staked 10, 20, 30, even 40 years of their career on the moment when the ATLAS team finally announced "We've got it!", then this film is for you. This film paints an accurate though relatively lightweight picture of the years spent making the world's largest machine, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), operational and then confirming the existence of the Higgs boson 40 years after it was predicted in theory. It's exciting to see scores of smart people stretching their brains to the limit so that they can understand something truly fundamental about the universe.

Although billions of particles were smashed in the LHC experiments needed to confirm the Higgs, you will mostly see calm scenes of crops growing in the LHC's vicinity. There are no car chases or crashes, no battling giant robots, no aliens. There are just lots of smart people saying highly intelligent things, most of the time. When they drop into small talk or take time out to brew an espresso, it's actually jarring. (At least it was to me.) About the audience: There were about 40 people in the movie showing I attended on a Sunday afternoon. Every single one of them looked like they had an advanced degree in physics or some other hard science. Indeed, that's who this movie is made for.

Reviewed by skalwani 6 / 10

A little high on build up, but short on balanced presentation

Since real science gets very little public exposure in any positive way, anticipation was high that this would help deliver that. While it made a credible attempt, I was rather disappointed at the lack of balanced credit. To the average public citizen it came across as largely the work of a few visionaries and one particular experiment - ATLAS. There were several others who did major yeoman like efforts and that is why I gave it only 6 stars. The human stories were particularly good, perseverance despite the adversity, it could have easily done it without the expletives as well. While it is a documentary and did a fantastic job of chronologically growing with the major real life characters, it failed to acknowledge numerous labs and institutions, along the way who were much more than mere influencers. But definitely worthwhile, hope the next generation of the story raises the bar.

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