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Particle Fever (2013)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,074 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 22 user | 40 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

As the Large Hadron Collider is about to be launched for the first time, physicists are on the cusp of the greatest scientific discovery of all time -- or perhaps their greatest failure.

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Title: Particle Fever (2013)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Martin Aleksa ...
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Nima Arkani-Hamed ...
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Savas Dimopoulos ...
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Monica Dunford ...
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Fabiola Gianotti ...
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David Kaplan ...
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Mike Lamont ...
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Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Asmina Arvanitaki ...
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James Beacham ...
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Jed Biesiada ...
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Christophe Clement ...
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Andy Cohen ...
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Katherine Copic ...
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Kyle Cranmer ...
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Albert de Roeck ...
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Storyline

As the Large Hadron Collider is about to be launched for the first time, physicists are on the cusp of the greatest scientific discovery of all time -- or perhaps their greatest failure.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

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Details

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Release Date:

3 September 2014 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

La fièvre des particules  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$42,968 (USA) (7 March 2014)

Gross:

$869,838 (USA) (27 June 2014)
 »

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Did You Know?

Goofs

Two Republican congressman speak against funding for the construction of the Superconducting Super Colider in Texas. This gives the false impression that it was Republicans who ended the project. The 1993 Congress had Democrat majorities in both the House and the Senate. Additionally, the President at that time was a Democrat. The leader of the effort to end funding for the project in the House was Democrat Jim Slattery. Voting to end the funding was bipartisan. See more »

Quotes

David Kaplan: Basic science for big breakthroughs needs to occur at a level where you're not asking "What is the economic gain?" You're asking "What do we not know, and where can we make progress?"
See more »

Connections

References Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Engaging Documentary That Tells Us a Lot About the Ways in Which 'Science' is Viewed in Western Cultures
7 November 2014 | by (London) – See all my reviews

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.


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