Particle Fever

2013 (Mark Levinson) PG, 99 minutes

Martin Aleksa, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos

A description of “Particle Fever” — Mark Levinson’s mind-blowing new documentary — must grapple with some issues of scale. This is a modest, compact movie about the largest imaginable subject: the structure of the cosmos.

It tells the story of an enormous project, involving decades of labor, hundreds of millions of dollars and miles of Swiss real estate, devoted to finding something almost immeasurably small: the Higgs boson, a subatomic morsel believed by physicists to hold the key to understanding the universe. (It’s sometimes called “the God particle.”) The experience of watching the film can be vertiginous: You toggle between the tiny and the infinite, between eternity and the real time of the recent past.

“Particle Fever” is a fascinating movie about science, and an exciting, revealing and sometimes poignant movie about scientists. The Large Hadron Collider, after all, is a human endeavor, and the people who have devoted their lives to chasing the Higgs are a compelling and diverse collection of characters.

- A.O. Scott, The New York Times

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