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May. 21, 2012

Smashing Places

by Annette Heist

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In his new book, Time Machines, New York-based photographer Stanley Greenberg once again explores the infrastructure of modern life, this time documenting the machinery of high energy physics.
 
Greenberg visited nearly twenty particle accelerators--including Fermilab, CERN, and Japan's J-PARC--where physicists are investigating the properties of matter and trying to figure out what happened just after the Big Bang. Or as a physicist at Fermilab described it to him, places where they "smash things into other things and see what happens."
 
In the intricate and massive machinery we see the work of engineers and designers, but the images are stark, futuristic, and sometimes lonely. A few parked bicycles in one photo, some scribbling on a control panel in another, are the only hints of the people at work here. It's as though some great discovery--or catastrophe--has happened and everyone has left the scene.
 
In the introduction to the book, David C. Cassidy likens the accelerators to the "cathedrals of old, or the pyramids of the ancient pharaohs...temples to the modern gods of science." The perfect places, it would seem, to search for the God particle.
 
 
 
 
 
About Annette Heist

Annette Heist is a former senior producer for Science Friday.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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