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.