UBC physicists to talk science of Angels & Demons
WhenAngels & Demons opens in theatres tomorrow (May 15), Canadians are going to be able to take a peek at where 30 million of their tax dollars went.
Part of the movie, which is based on Dan Brown’s 2000 novel of the same name, was filmed at the headquarters for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. There, buried deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland, is the Large Hadron Collider, a circular machine 27 kilometres long that was built to smash particles into one another in order to explore topics as great as the origins of the universe.
Canada’s primary contribution to the LHC is a massive detector called ATLAS, which appears in Angels & Demons as the source of antimatter which a secret organization is planning to use as a weapon to destroy the Vatican.
Speaking from Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics located at UBC, which analyzes data from ATLAS, Isabel Trigger told the Straight that it’s very exciting to see the world get a peak inside CERN. “But we want to make sure that we get to talk a little bit about the science that we do there,” she said, “so that people don’t get the wrong idea and think it is some top-secret, dangerous place with the potential to end the world.”
For that reason, on Friday, May 22, Trigger and colleagues are scheduled to speak at a free lecture entitled Angels and Demons: The Science Revealed at UBC Robson Square (800 Robson Street) at 7 p.m. about the real science behind the science fiction of Angels & Demons.
Presenters are going to explain particle physics and antimatter, Trigger said, and also tell people about the innovative work being done with ATLAS and the LHC.
As an example of the difference between the fictitious depictions and real life, Trigger noted that in the movie, villains accumulate a quarter of a gram of antimatter and plot to use it as a weapon. At CERN, scientists do possess the ability to create and collect antimatter, she said, but collecting a quarter of a gram would take billions of years.
Are scientists worried that the movie could lead people to fear CERN as a place where scientists plot to take over the word? Not according to Trigger.
“As a former CERN staff scientist, the idea of the female lead in a Hollywood movie being a female CERN staff scientist is absolutely awesome to me,” she joked. “We are not usually cast as the glamorous types.”
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