THE BELIEVERS - gold hugo winner for best documentary at CIFF
click here for official website
DISTRIBUTED INTERNATIONALLY BY TVF
The Believers begins in March of 1989, when two respected scientists from the University of Utah stand in front of a wall of reporters; flashbulbs pop as the pair --- one shy, the other cracking jokes --- announce a startling claim: they can solve all the world’s energy problems using seawater, batteries, and the mysterious glass contraption they hold in their hands as they pose proudly for the US and international press. “Cold Fusion” is born. Within days, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann are on the cover of Time Magazine. But, only three short months later, their careers in tatters and their reputations ruined, they flee the country and cold fusion becomes synonymous with "bad science." Everyone - the press, the public, and especially the mainstream science community - assume Cold Fusion is dead.
But there are those who refuse to accept that. More than twenty years after the infamous event, a band of professional and amateur scientists, a high school whiz kid and a Hollywood-based internet DJ are confident that Pons and Fleischmann were right after all and Cold Fusion will save the world. They're The Believers.
THE ATOM SMASHERS
broadcast on independent lens (PBS)
available: amazon / itunes / hulu
click here for official website
STATUS: completed 2008
Physicists at Fermilab, the most powerful particle accelerator in the United States, are closing in on one of the universe’s best-kept secrets: the God particle—the Higgs boson—whose existence was theorized nearly 40 years ago by Scottish scientist Peter Higgs. The physicists searching for the Higgs boson are excited; they may be approaching the discovery of a lifetime and there’s almost certainly a Nobel Prize for whoever finds it.
Wars, natural disasters and a growing deficit are chipping away at America’s ability to maintain its role as science leader. In the midst of this uncertainty, Fermilab struggles to stay alive, just as a new and more powerful accelerator in Europe prepares to open its doors and potentially make the discovery first. This tightening race makes Fermilab physicists like Nobel Laureate and elder statesman Leon Lederman, rock band front man Ben Kilminster and newlyweds John Conway and Robin Erbacher contemplate their future in physics. Despite dwindling support, the scientists show infectious enthusiasm as they wrangle the cantankerous Tevatron to record-breaking energies, increasing the odds of a discovery. Then, in December 2006, research findings indicate that the Higgs might be lighter than previously believed and, therefore, easier for Fermilab to find.
Then comes the bombshell: governmental budgets are slashed and a key project is canceled at Fermilab. The Tevatron is scheduled to be turned off permanently, unless a major discovery is made. A race to the finish begins.
THE ATOM SMASHERS explores what happens when politicians, not scientists, decide which scientific projects will be funded and which will be cut, and depicts the contradictions that arise when the most educated population in the world begins to doubt the place and value of science. Archival film and vintage footage illustrate the history of Fermilab and cultural attitudes towards science in America, with key scientific ideas brought to life through animation. Despite the setbacks, the physicists at Fermilab continue the search. Until Europe’s atom smasher goes online and starts generating the massive amounts of collisions it takes to find such a minute particle, there’s still a chance that they can win the race. As physicist John Conway says, “This work is too important not to be done somewhere.” But will it be done here in the U.S.? Or will he and the rest of the physicists at Fermilab soon be packing their bags for Europe?
science at work
created for fermi national laboratory
click here for Fermilab website
Click HERE to watch the film
STATUS: completed 2012
As Fermilab looks toward the future after the permanent shutdown of the Tevatron, their message to the world is that the future is brighter than ever for Illinois' lab on the prairie. After 137 Films' success with The Atom Smashers, the lab reached out to us to create their next promotional video. Touting cutting edge research in Muons and Neutrinos, Dark Energy Cameras and Cosmology, Fermilab is arguably busier than ever.
Science At Work explores the new research and exciting developments happening when scientists head to work every day at America's most impressive science research facility.
THIS HAS BEEN TO SPACE
runtime: approx. 16 minutes
"This Has Been to Space" is a short film about the Adler Planetarium's Far Horizons program in which young people help design, build, and launch experiments on high altitude balloons. The balloons reach 100,000 feet, touching the edge of space, at which point they pop and float back to earth underneath a parachute. A chase begins --- the team tracks the rapidly descending experiment using GPS devices, criss-crossing Indiana in a pair of white vans. This chase, however, had an unexpected ending as the balloon landed somewhere the kids and their science counselors certainly didn't anticipate...