2001: A Space Odyssey? Nope, it’s the Large Hadron Collider.
PARTICLE FEVER (Mark Levinson). 99 minutes. Opens Friday (March 7). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
There's already something godlike about CERN's Large Hadron Collider, the colossal device designed to discover the Higgs boson, "the God particle." Five storeys tall and buried underground in Switzerland, it's the largest machine ever constructed, containing a 17-mile-long ring in which protons are smashed together at unfathomable speed, recreating the conditions of the Big Bang.
The LHC featured prominently in Peter Mettler's The End of Time, which emphasized its mandala-like structure and drew from it much mystery and wonder. Particle Fever, which chronicles the build-up to the LHC's maiden operation and long-belated validation of the Higgs boson theory, is more informative.
If anything, director Mark Levinson, who holds a doctorate in particle physics, works too hard to milk suspense from the anticipation anxiety of his scientist subjects. The stakes are clearly enormous, but the film's manner of convincing us of this leans heavily on strained doc drama conventions.
The math involved in determining whether data gathered from the LHC favours supersymmetry or multiverse theories will mean more to experts than laymen, but Particle Fever is highly effective at generating appreciation for the tenacity and vision of scientists and the power of curiosity to determine an entire life's path.