Angels & Demons: The Science Revealed

Back when I was at the now defunct Alliance for Lifelong Learning (an e-learning venture put together by Stanford, Oxford and Yale), we did a religion course that keyed off of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. No one thought highly of the book, but the dean of the Yale Divinity School believed that the book’s popularity (and the questions it raised about religion) created a good teaching opportunity. And he was right. Fast forward several years, and we now have Dan Brown’s other book, Angels & Demons, getting released as a major film too. So, why not use this as an occasion to talk about the science invoked by the film? UC Berkeley has done just that. (Watch here). And so has Carnegie Mellon. CM prefaces the video featured above as follows: 

Could you really destroy the Vatican using a small amount of antimatter made in the Large Hadron Collider? Thats the question Carnegie Mellons Manfred Paulini seeks to answer in the lecture Angels and Demons: The Science Revealed. Dr. Paulini, an experimental particle physicist and member of the CMS experiment at CERNs Large Hadron Collider, discusses the science facts and fiction in the movie Angels and Demons, based on Dan Browns best-selling novel.

Dr. Paulini talks about the physics at the heart of Angels and Demons, which focuses on what happens when matter and antimatter meet. The absence of practically any antimatter in the universe is crucial to our existence, and understanding that absence is one of the big challenges of particle physics.

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  • socratus says:

    God and Devil.

    In 1906, Rutherford studied internal structure of atoms,
    bombarding them with high energy a- particles.
    This idea helped him to understand the structure of atom.
    But the clever Devil interfered and gave advice to physicists:
    ‘ Bomb them stronger’.
    And physicists created huge cannon-accelerators of particles.
    And they began to bomb micro particles in the vacuum,
    in hoping to understand their inner structure.
    And they were surprised with the results of this bombing.
    Several hundreds of completely new strange particles appeared.
    They lived for a very little time and do not relate to our world.
    Our Earth needs another constants of nature.
    But physicists are proud of their work. They say:
    we study the inner structure of the particles.
    The clever and artful Devil is glad. He again has deceived man.
    Physicists think, that an accelerator is first of all
    the presence of huge energy. And the Devil laughs.
    He knows that an accelerator is first of all the Vacuum.
    But this, he has withheld from man.
    He has not explained that the Vacuum is infinite and inexhaustible.
    And in infinity an infinite variety of particles is contained .
    And by bombing the vacuum, one can find centaurs and sphinxes.
    But my God, save us from their presence on Earth.
    ============== . .
    E. Rutherford was right.
    His followers are mistaken.
    Imagine, that I want to plant a small apple- tree.
    For this purpose I will dig out a hole of 1 meter width
    and 1,20 m depth. It is normal.
    But if to plant a small apple- tree, I will begin to dig
    a base for a huge building (skyscraper),
    or if to begin to drill ground with 10 km. depth,
    will you call me a normal man?
    =================================== , .
    Imagine a man who breaks watches on a wall.
    And then he tries to understand their mechanisms by
    collecting the cogwheels, springs and small screws,
    that have been scattered everywhere.
    What are his chances of a successful reconstruction?
    As many chances as there are scientists who aspire to understand
    the inner structure of electrons by smashing them in accelerators?
    If, by not taking into account the initial conditions of Genesis,
    the fantasies of the scientists may well be unlimited.
    ========== . ======== .
    The Nature works very economical.
    For example, biologists know 100 ( hundred ) kinds of
    amino acids. But only 20 ( twenty) kinds of amino acids
    are suitable to produce molecules of protein, from which all
    different cells created on our planet. What are about another
    80 % of amino acids? They are dead end of evolution.
    The physicists found many ( 1000 ) new elementary particles in
    accelerators. But we need only one ( 1) electron and one (1 )
    proton to create first atom, to begin to create the Nature.
    All another elementary particles (mesons, muons , bosons, taus,
    all their girlfriends – antiparticles, all quarks and antiquarks…etc)
    are dead end of evolution.
    What was before – “ the big bang” or the vacuum ?
    The physicists created “ Europe’s Large Hadron Colider “
    Please, look at how our physicists made this accelerator.
    They made the vacuum and after they generated a big reaction
    between two colliding particles in some small imitation of the
    “big bang”. They didn’t make this process in the reverse.
    So, what was prior in the Universe: “ big bang” or vacuum?
    ============ . .
    Best wishes.
    Israel Sadovnik. / Socratus.
    ===================== . .

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