Thoughts on the movie “Particle Fever”

* Particle Fever is surprisingly and pleasantly tense, even for me, who knew the “outcome” in advance. There is more at stake in this movie than most thrillers about murders and bombs, etc.

* The axing of the SSC is one of the great political and technological travesties of our time and almost no one appreciates it. Relatedly, financial questions are among the dumbest and most common that can be asked of basic science projects, perhaps because asking intelligent questions requires knowledge.

Particle fever* No one wears suits and Particle Fever could be an ad for Apple, since almost every physicist uses Mac laptops and iMacs peek from desks (Steve Jobs would be proud). In the larger society almost everyone has access to the same machines but what people choose to do with them differs greatly. One could even say there is a story not about income inequality but about intellectual inequality there, and if I were a certain kind of writer I would launch myself from that topic into a screed.

* What matters more than knowing stuff? And who is working on something really important?

* It is not easy to make documentaries that go beyond “this happened, then this happened,” which may be why most people don’t care much for them.

* That humanity can build the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is itself amazing and more amazing than most monuments. Same with the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). There may be a great documentary at ITER too.

* There are many status hierarchies to be climbed and the most commonly climbed ones may not be the best. Which one are you climbing? If you don’t know that’s not a good sign and someone else has probably determined the answer for you, without your consent.

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