Visualizing the Proton

The public premiere of a documentary about a ground-breaking new animation of the proton, and a discussion about the unique collaborative art-science process of visualizing the subatomic world.

Join MIT Professor Richard Milner, physicist Rolf Ent from Jefferson Lab, MIT documentary filmmakers Joe McMaster and Chris Boebel, animator James LaPlante of Sputnik Animation, and Leila Kinney of the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, for the premiere of a documentary about the making of a groundbreaking new animation of the proton, and a discussion moderated by MIT Professor Krishna Rajagopal about the unique collaborative art-science process of visualizing the subatomic world.


Physicists have developed the “Standard Model” that successfully explains atomic structure. In this framework, the proton is built from point-like quarks and gluons. The proton has almost universally been visualized as a billiard ball with quark and gluon billiard ball constituents. Yet, we now know that this visualization is entirely wrong. Quarks and gluons can spin, have linear and circular motion, and can appear and disappear. How can this complex and seemingly “impossible” world be visualized?

To answer this question, MIT Physics professor Richard Milner, physicist Rolf Ent at Jefferson Lab, documentary filmmakers Chris Boebel and Joe McMaster at MIT, and animator James LaPlante of Sputnik Animation have taken inspiration from the colorized Hubble images of the large-scale structure of the universe from original black-and-white exposures. The creators of these images describe them as “equal parts art and science.” This project’s goal is to create similarly scientifically authentic, visually inspiring images of the microcosm and explore the creative process, the challenge of scientific “accuracy,” evidence, and the very concept of “understanding.” Milner and his colleagues are motivated by new and planned electron accelerators that aim to deliver snapshots of the fundamental structure of matter with unprecedented clarity.

In Visualizing the Proton, physicists work collaboratively with animation and video artists to depict the subatomic world in a new way with an innovative animation that conveys the current understanding of the structure of the proton in terms of its fundamental constituents. The animation is the centerpiece of a 5–7 minute film that is aimed at grades 7–12 science students and the general public.

Capacity is limited, be sure to reserve your free tickets below

Date:
Oct 6, 2022
Time:
12:00 PM
- 01:30 PM
Venue:
MIT Museum: The Lee Family Exchange
Location:
MIT Museum, Gambrill Center, 314 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02142
Presented By:

About the
Festival

Cambridge Science Festival, the first of its kind in the United States, is a madcap celebration of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). A multifaceted, multicultural event, the Festival makes science accessible, interactive, and fun, highlighting the impact of STEAM in all our lives.

The Cambridge Science Festival was founded by and is produced by the MIT Museum.