A post from Mark Oreglia. Thanks, Mark!
This post is from Mark Oreglia, one of the advisors to "The Atom Smashers".
My colleagues and I loved the film -- not because we were in it, but because of how the filmmakers communicated our arcane subject, and how they were able to focus on the human side of our endeavors. My wife said after the screening "this is the first time I really feel I understand what you do!" So much for my ability to communicate to the public.
The film correctly focusses on competition between various experiments. It is important to understand how important and useful this competition is. Most of the time it is not ugly at all, and it serves to drive us to work harder and produce the best science we can. It also makes sure that results are verified.
I was at CERN last week to attend a workshop on the ATLAS detector, one of the LHC experiments. Two months ago the LHC successfully circulated beams for the first time, so the prospect of bringing the experiments online soon has this place jumping. I was crammed into an office built to comfortably accomodate 4; there were currently 7 people. This is a phenomenon well known to CERN users in the LHC era -- after all, there are nearly 4000 personnel signed on to the 2 main experiments.
Excellent glimpses into life at CERN (at least from the perspective of young people) can be found at here.