Phontom of the Universe

Phantom of the Universe

Michael Barnett, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, USA

Film review by Gabriel Stöckle, Vienna

“Phantom of the Universe” tells the exciting story of the exploration of Dark Matter, from the Big Bang to its indirect proof in the 21st century. The film impresses with a well thought-out, clever, ironic and witty story about this subject, which is not self-evident. It abducts the audience into the depths of a former gold mine in South Dakota, where we find the most sensitive Dark Matter detector in the world. From there it takes the audience to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland. Still, Dark Matter could not be observed directly, but its existence is no longer questioned in cosmology today.

The excellent soundtrack from Skywalker Sound (Stars Wars) makes the film a special experience. Scientifically, the film is up to date and is also understandable to the layperson. Many explanations are even extraordinarily entertaining. For example, the comparison of the rotational velocities of stars in the Andromeda galaxy with those of the planets in our solar system. Undoubtedly funny is the image of Fritz Zwicky in front of a galaxy cluster. The visualization of a flight through a particle accelerator and the collision of two protons, cutting to a video of the fireworks on the day of the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs particle, are absolutely worth seeing.

The viewer never gets the feeling of not understanding what is going on in search for Dark Matter. Incredibly impressive is the time-lapse animation of the assembly of the Giant Atlas detector at CERN, a decades long process. Last but not least, the film attempts to explain antimatter and also discusses the significance of the development of the Internet at CERN.

11th FullDome Festival, Jena, May 19, 2017