Native Skeptic

Native Skeptic
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Case of 'Particle Fever'

One day, I was sitting in a production lab performing a video test as part of the quality control process for a monitor and came across the image of a giant structure being hauled by truck so big it closed down both directions of the highway. I needed to see what a 50 foot magnet was being used for, and was I surprised to see it was just a small piece of the bigger machine. Instead of quenching that thirst, my curiosity would only continue to grow just as much as my understanding did, the more I explored the fundamental aspects which govern the laws that lead humans to build such an impossibly complex machine. It really is a marvel of human ingenuity. A pinnacle of engineering and physics. It's only fitting that hundreds of hours and years of footage were used to make the upcoming movie focusing on a scientific journey that involves all of us. Particle Fever is being featured by Angela Watercutter in her recent article for Wired as, "A Movie About the Large Hadron Collider That You'll Actually Understand."    

Part of my own personal voyage was described in an interview with Ben Radford for the Center for Inquiry where I gave this example of how the Large Hadron Collider lead me to become involved with organized skepticism. Here is my response to that question,
"Philosophy, Socrates, and the socratic method, planted a seed with a question, "What is knowledge?" If you can't define that for yourself, then how can you maintain the claim that you truly "know" anything? I wanted to know how we as the collective human race compiled all of the scientific understandings of such things like Einstein's theory of relativity or how we know certain things about the nature of subatomic particles. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN really ignited my interest in getting to the bottom of how man could even postulate such a machine. The process of how science works became clear only after I became more familiar with the history of science, and finally I had the standard for knowledge that I was looking for: scientific knowledge.

After becoming engulfed in this newfound obsession for everything science related, it was only a matter of time before I came across the Skeptics Guide to the Universe. Simply listening to the SGU let me know that there was this community out there and that really helped sharpen my critical thinking skills while establishing a deep-seeded root to be more actively involved in skepticism. I wanted to help others follow along those lines and discover how enlightening and empowering science can be through its relevance to everything."

Like with most skeptic's origin stories, mine also began with a love for science. Once I became better acquainted with the scientific method I also became aware of my own scientific illiteracy. At that point, I already had a applied science degree and a bachelors in technical management. So, it was a bit of a shock for me and blow to the ego to admit that I did not really know what science was or how to clearly define it. I wondered how I went clear through the entire educational process and missed out on such a vital part to understanding the modern world. But, what I did attain through my educational experience through philosophy, ethics and other writing courses, was the ability to think with different perspectives. Which has also helped me as an artist. 

I am excited for this movie and the opportunity to make these concepts exciting for others as well. The LHC inspired me so much by the sheer ingenuity of the whole machine, forget the way it works. The look of it alone is straight out of a science fiction movie and could easily pass for a Star Trek set! But, in order to truly appreciate the inner workings of the biggest scientific experiment in the world and most complex machine ever built by human beings, there's a bit of physics to examine and explore. And about a couple hundred years worth of science.   

That has kept me busy ever since and I am just as curious about things, but as a result, my appreciation of those things is so much deeper.

Particle Fever will be smashing it's way to select theaters March through April.