Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"I call it a competitive collaboration"

So, let's face it. CERN has stolen the show.

We all knew this was going to happen. The good old Tevatron (the accelerator at Fermilab) must be feeling a little neglected right about now. In our film, Ben Kilminster gives us an occasional countdown ("643 days until CERN starts up..." "422 days until CERN starts up"). For, as you will see when you finally get to see The Atom Smashers, Fermilab is in a race against CERN to find the Higgs boson.

And today, Wednesday, the time has come. CERN is starting up.

Rather than lament the passing of the torch, I'll join in celebrating the moment with the other gazillion physicists salivating for this behemoth to open its eyes and look around. In fact, many of the physicists at Fermilab are nearly as excited. Many of them are, in fact, going to ramp up working at CERN, making fewer visits to Fermilab. But, again, I'm not mourning. As Leon Lederman said, the relationship between the two labs is a competitive collaboration. Many results will be shared. So, I'm not going to rehash what this blog has explored in depth: the troubling future for this kind of science in the U.S.

I'll be excited, too. Because, let me tell you, physicists are ecstatic about this thing. How do I know? You can find out by watching this. You absolutely must, must, must watch it. There, I just watched it again. Who knew physicists could rap?

If we were still shooting our film, we'd certainly have the camera rolling at Fermilab, where they will be having, and I kid you not, a pajama party to watch the events live from a remote control room.

So let's all give CERN its due and celebrate this amazing technological marvel. It'll take a few months to get really rolling: this is just a baby step. But what a step...


cynthia said...

hi clayton! CERN is all over the news (mostly being portrayed as a doomsday machine thanks to our fearmongering media) and of course it reminded me of you and your film, so i thought i'd check in--looks like the film's doing well!

Anonymous said...

Saw a piece on CERN where the anchor was trying to talk about Fermilab and the guest kind of dismissed it. I don't even think he mentioned them.

Also, did you hear Stephen Hawking has laid out a ten dollar bet that CERN won't find a thing? I can't imagine it would be true, but he's a pretty smart guy...


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