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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