March 5 marked the premiere in New York City of director Mark Levinson's Particle Fever: With One Switch, Everything Changes. The 99-minute film documents the successes and set-backs attending human efforts to "unravel the mysteries of the universe" by recreating conditions believed to exist before the "Big Bang" and thereby finding Higgs boson*, the hitherto elusive key to understanding the origin of matter in our universe.
Levinson's underlying subjects are scientific research, innovation, experimentation, and discovery — demonstrated through the construction and launch of the particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider, a huge machine that, it was anticipated, could put to the test theories of particle physics — and our own ability to comprehend and explain how the universe works.
Because the experiment with the Large Hadron Collider involved more than 10,000 people in more than 100 countries, the filmmaker, himself a physicist, focuses on the stories of four physicists — Fabiola Gianotti, Savas Dimopoulos, Monica Dunford, and Martin Aleksa — in addition to theorist Nima Arkani-Hamed and the beam operation leader Mike Lamont. (See the About section of the film's Website for biographical information about the filmmaker and the film's protagonists.) By making his film character-based, Levinson renders the scientific theories at issue accessible to lay persons and simultaneously realizes the dramatic potential of both the potential scientific breakthrough and its possible consequences.
Below is the trailer for the film; additional clips are available at the film's Website. See the Resources section of the Website for a Glossary of scientific terms referenced in Particle Fever. (The Resources section also provides links to science lectures and a reading list.)
The press notes (pdf) for the film contain an interview with Levinson.
A schedule of the film's showings across the country is on the Homepage of the film's Website.
ATLAS Experiment (This is the particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.)
* The announcement of the discovery of Higgs boson came on July 4, 2012 (video of announcement). Also see "New Results Indicate That New Particle Is a Higgs boson".