Physicist will separate fact from fiction in "Angels & Demons"

News Release — 1 June 2009


Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, 817- 272-3317,

ARLINGTON - UT Arlington Physics Professor Kaushik De will separate scientific fact from fiction in the film "Angels and Demons," in a free public presentation at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, at The Planetarium at UT Arlington, 700 Planetarium Place. The talk includes scenes from the film, photos of UT Arlington professors and graduate students working on ATLAS particle detector on campus and in CERN, and an insider's view of the actual facility. He will also answer the lingering questions the film left in movie-goers minds.

Dr. Kaushik DeThe film, which stars Tom Hanks as Harvard Professor Robert Langdon and is a prequel to "The Da Vinci Code," opened May 15 to a reported first-weekend international box office of $104.3 million. Its plot blends fact and fiction into a tale of intrigue, involving antimatter stolen from CERN to destroy the Vatican, that is creating unprecedented interest in particle physics from the non-scientific public.

"The movie is a fun thriller, and some of it is scientifically accurate and some is in stark contrast with reality," De said.

The story begins with the murder of a respected research physicist and the theft of antimatter from the 17-mile Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva. CERN is the world's most powerful particle accelerator and it is familiar territory for University of Texas at Arlington Physics Professor Kaushik De.  UT Arlington built components for the ATLAS particle detector at the LHC and is the lead institution for the SouthWest Tier 2 computing facilities that will analyze data collected from the giant detector. De is the computing operations coordinator for ATLAS in the United States. 

Although the actual ATLAS detector is seen in the movie, De said, most of the scenes are played out on sets recreated in Hollywood. His presentation includes juxtaposed photos of the actual ATLAS control room, which was designed at UT Arlington, and the movie version. In the movie, ATLAS is clearly visible from the control room.

"That would be quite impossible, because ATLAS is installed in a huge underground cavern, 100 meters underground," De said.

 Here's a sample of some of the questions De will answer:

  • Does something scientists call the "God particle" really exist?
  • Could ¼ gram of antimatter really destroy Vatican City?
  • Does CERN produce antimatter? Could terrorists actually steal it and use it to destroy huge geographic areas?

Call the planetarium at 817-272-1183 or visit for more information.


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