"Rift" Sucks Us In

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Just when the media hysteria over doomsday scenarios relating to the Large Hadron Collider has died down, along comes a visually stunning short film from L Studio called Rift that explores just what such a scenario might look like. It's described as "a surreal interpretation of Pandora's Box about a scientist whose failed experiment results in the formation of a black hole that alters time and space, creating a chaotic Twilight-Zonesque nightmare." And the climax features a picture-perfect big swirly hole devouring our world as we know it. Yikes!

It's a nice example of the kind of innovative media that is finding its way onto the Web, in defiance of the usual commercial/studio outlets. Short films tend to get short shrift in Hollywood, outside of film festivals and the annual Oscar category.

I also give the filmmakers props for getting the scientific terminology (such that there is) largely correct, even if they went with the far-fetched Doomsday Scenario. (Yawn.) We get it: disaster sells tickets. Just ask Roland Emmerich. In fact, the scientist/protagonist offers an excellent summation of why physicists don't consider the LHC a threat — words that are echoed in today's Los Angeles Times by UC-Santa Barbara physicist Steve Giddings:

ight ultra-high-energy particle collisions be dangerous? The simple answer is no. Though it will be very novel to produce these conditions in a laboratory, where they can be carefully studied, nature is performing similar experiments all the time, above our heads. Cosmic ray protons with energies over a million times those at the LHC regularly strike the protons in our atmosphere, and in other cosmic bodies, without calamity. Also, there are significant indications that nature performed such experiments early in the universe, near the Big Bang, without untoward consequences. Physicists have carefully investigated these concerns on multiple occasions.

Yeah, sure, he says that now, but just wait until the big swirly wormhole comes to get him.