“Particle Fever,” the documentary about the Large Hadron Collider and the hunt for the Higgs boson, opened at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago and at the AMC Showplace 16 in Naperville on Friday. The film follows a group of scientists — a trio of theorists, some senior experimentalists and a first-year postdoctoral researcher — as they work to bring the LHC online. It culminates in the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson in July 2012.
Producer, star and theoretical physicist David Kaplan made an appearance at the Chicago theater this weekend, while the Naperville multiplex hosted a trio of Q&A sessions with physicists. Eight Fermilab scientists on the CMS experiment — Kevin Burkett, Richard Cavanaugh, Oliver Gutsche, Jim Hirschauer, Don Lincoln, Rafael Lopes de Sa, Verena Martinez Outschoorn and Elizabeth Sexton-Kennedy, as well as the Office of Communiction’s Kurt Riesselmann — joined three Argonne scientists from the ATLAS experiment — Ben Auerbach, Taylor Childers and Tom LeCompte — for the sessions.
Questions ranged from the practical (“How many hours a day do you work?”) to the abstract, with many of the most challenging coming from the younger members of the audience. Teacher Amy Truemper of Bednarcik Middle School in Oswego brought a group of eighth graders to Saturday’s show, and the depth of their questions on the Higgs boson and the science of the LHC left the scientists in awe.
"Particle Fever" opened on 14 screens across the country. The small theater at the Naperville AMC was packed for each of the three Q&A screenings. Audiences were so taken with the film and intrigued by its subject matter that the question-and-answer sessions continued into the lobby of the theater, long after the house lights were brought up.