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Independent Lens: The Atom Smashers [DVD] [2008]

Release Date:01/06/2009
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    Special Features

    • The Fermilab Tango Club
    • The Drug Sniffing Dogs
    • The Superconducting SuperCollider
    • Barnstormers
    • Science, Culture, and Politics
    • Closed Captioned


    The Atom Smashers
    Follow along as the physicists at Fermilab, the most powerful particle accelerator in the United States, attempt to unlock the secret behind the so-called Holy Grail of physics by discovering why everything has mass. It was nearly forty years ago that Scottish scientist Peter Higgs theorized the existence of the God particle (aka the Higgs boson), and physicists have been locked in a global scale race to prove its existence ever since. The scientist who can claim credit for that discovery will almost certainly become the recipient of a Nobel Prize, and recent technological developments hint that the God particle may finally be within reach. Our best chance rests with the Tevatron, a circular particle accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. Thanks to wars, natural disasters, and a growing deficit, however, America is losing its status as a global leader in the field of science. A more powerful particle accelerator has just opened in Europe as well, leading some to believe that the discovery will be made there instead of here. Later, just as American physicists are beginning to have doubts about their futures, they manage to increase the odds of winning the race by getting the Tevatron to run faster than ever before. IN this documentary, filmmakers Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross set out to discover what happens when politicians make decisions that should be made by scientists, and asks just what will happen when one of the most highly educated cultures in the world begins placing less value on scientific discovery than ever before. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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