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Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln explains how particle physics research attempts to answer questions of the universe. For those with a more practical bent, he explains how this research is an excellent investment, with a high rate of return for society.

On the same weekend that saw the fourth Hunger Games movie open nationwide, hundreds of people trekked to Fermilab to watch the fourth iteration of our own ruthless competition. Five scientists took the stage on Friday night, and only one left — with a prize, that is.

Although they might be invisible to the naked eye, contaminants less than a micron in size can ruin very sensitive experiments in particle physics.