The discovery of a “Higgs boson-like particle” at CERN was taken up by the global media as the definitive culmination of decades of experimentation, carried out by thousands of people – but not everyone at CERN believed that what they'd found was really a Higgs boson. Phil, in "Tau Trouble," is on a team that was looking for a particularly tricky manifestation of the Higgs, and his year of Higgs hunting was rather different from what we heard about in the news.
"CERN People" is a new series of short films that goes behind the headlines of some of the biggest physics breakthroughs of our time, introducing the public to a handful of engaging young scientists at the world’s largest research center – home to the Hadron Collider and birthplace of the worldwide web!
We have been filming during the most exciting years for particle physics in a generation. Our aim is to give the general public, who have a broad sense of what CERN is, a more personal sense of who particle physicists are and what they actually do.
We have had great access to three CERN experiments: ALPHA, CMS, and some of ATLAS. We were there when the Higgs results were coming together, and when a groundbreaking anti-matter paper was accepted for publication. We captured the emotion of these moments in real time -- and such moments in physics are rare. They get headlines and public attention for a few days; our aim is to make the public want to know more with a series of intimate, intelligent short films that open the door onto the real work of experimental particle physics.
Our focus is primarily on younger physicists -- not the people who speak to the cameras when big news is announced, but the ones staying up all night analyzing data, preparing graphs, and tweaking the tools on which big experiment results depend. We talk to them not only about what they do, but why they do it. Perhaps none of them will win the Nobel Prize, even if their work helps others to do so. They will probably never have the first-class lifestyle of their friends who went into the private sector, where mathematical brains like theirs can make millions. And as a rule, they don't care.
Which isn't to say they don't sometimes get discouraged: pursuing exotic particles for over a decade with an ever-shrinking likelihood of finding them can be tough, particularly when your friends and colleagues are celebrating the great Higgs boson-like particle discovery. But those on the more exotic searches explain that though the risk of finding nothing is great; the reward, should their searches turn something up, is much greater.
About CERN People, Liz Mermin, and Crow Hill Films
CERN People is directed by Liz Mermin and produced by Crow Hill Films. Liz Mermin (www.merminfilm.com) is a London-based director from New York who directs fast-paced, character-driven documentary features telling stories about contemporary society and culture – from the personality quirks of charismatic Irish racehorses to culture clashes between Afghan and American hairdressers to the ties between Bollywood and terrorism. Her films are broadcast, released theatrically, and shown in festivals worldwide; reviewers praise their humor, sensitivity, and attention to character. As an undergraduate, Mermin was an instructor on a popular physics course called “Space Time and Motion,” which was of some help in making this series (as was her father, an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at Cornell). She runs the multimedia program at the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Crow Hill Films (crowhillfilms.com/) was founded by Aisling Ahmed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2009 and expanded to Galway, Ireland, in 2012.
About the Series Sponsors:
CERN People is produced with the generous support of the Science and Technologies Facilities Council and Bord Scannán na hÉireann / Irish Film Board. The Science and Technologies Facilities Council (http://www.stfc.ac.uk/home....
) is one of the UK’s seven publicly funded Research Councils responsible for supporting, coordinating and promoting research, innovation and skills development to drive science and technology forward for the benefit of the United Kingdom and its people. The Irish Film Board (http://www.irishfilmboard.ie/
) is the national development agency for the Irish film, television and animation industry, investing in talent, creativity, and enterprise. The agency supports Irish companies by providing investment loans for the development, production and distribution of film, television and animation projects.
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