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Physicists set out to answer ‘why particle physics matters’



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Updated: September 26, 2013 6:19AM

Pushing the boundaries of new technologies, strengthening international partnerships, seeking answers to fundamental questions about the nature of the universe — they’re just a few of the reasons physicists do what they do.

But in an era when applied sciences — medical technology, green energy, manufacturing — tend to take precedence, particle physicists find themselves answering one question more and more: “Why does particle physics matter?”

So Fermilab, along with 21 other particle physics research institutions, set out to answer that question, with its “Why Particle Physics Matters” video contest, run by Fermilab’s Symmetry Magazine.

The contest pits 29 scientists against each other in one- to two-minute video clips, in which each scientist makes the case for the discipline in non-physicist terms.

“Did you ever look up into the sky at night and wonder what the universe is made of? What its fate will be?” asks Fermilab physicist and deputy head of Communications Kurt Riesselmann in his entry. “Our research has led to many surprising discoveries and applications.

“Your cell phone, your car, your hospital’s MRI machine — they all use components and technologies that stem from particle physics research. Who knows what will come next?”

Physics fans can watch all of the videos and vote for their favorites at

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