Monday, May 11, 2009

‘Angels’ Lecture to Separate Physics from Fiction

With the Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" movie getting quite a bit of attention (notoriety?), especially in the physics world, I think the particle physics commumnity has wisely taken up the opportunity of the public's attention to highlight their work in context with the movie/book.

This is part of a series of lectures for the public describing what is right and wrong about the fiction contained within the book.

Though a compelling page-turner and brilliant blend of science and fiction, elementary particle physicists readily spot when the novel departs from real science and the realm of the possible to the unreal possibility of an antimatter catastrophe, courtesy of the minuscule amounts generated at CERN.

“Antimatter is real, unlike Kryptonite,” said Dr. Joseph M. Izen, a professor of physics. “There actually was a dedicated experiment at CERN to trap antiprotons and to make antihydrogen a few years ago, but that was not part of the LHC program. There is a conversion of mass to energy when matter and antimatter annihilate, but the quantity of antimatter in Angels & Demons, the trap holding it and its appearance as a floating, pulsating antiblob in the book/movie are fictional plot devices. These days, more antiprotons are being made by the accelerator complex at Fermilab in the U.S. than are being produced at CERN.”

If one of these comes to your neighborhood, it might make for an interesting evening out.


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