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Quantum Fluctuations: Experiments in Flux


Made as a series of virtual experiments, Quantum Fluctuations shows the complexity and transient nature of the most fundamental aspect of reality, the quantum world, which is impossible to observe directly. In the laboratory, elementary particles are observed by measuring the spoils of a proton collision and comparing the findings with data collected from supercomputer simulations. It is perhaps the most indirect method of observation imaginable, a non-representational form of observation mediated by computer simulations.

In Quantum Fluctuations, particle simulations are used as the brush and paint to create abstract moving paintings that visualise the events that happen during a proton collision. The film shows the intricate structure of the proton beams that collide to create an outflow of particle showers which create composite particles that eventually decay. These visualisations were created with input from scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN, Geneva.

Large format limited edition prints available here.

A limited special edition of the film is available at Sedition.



Underlying Event

The underlying event arises from collisions between particles that do not directly participate in the main collision event known as the hard subprocess.


Proton Beam

The proton beams that collide in the LHC are made out of 2808 bunches of 1.15x1011 protons per bunch.


Hard Subprocess

Event simulation normally begins with a relatively simple subprocess resulting from a highly energetic collision of constituents of colliding particle beams. For example, at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) a top quark-antiquark pair can be created in the collision of a pair of gluons or a light quark-antiquark pair from the incoming protons. (from Scholarpedia)


Parton Showers

Accelerated particles emit radiation as gluons, the gluons themselves emit further radiation known as parton showers.



The particles emitted in the particle showers come together to form hadrons, which are composite particles such as protons and neutrons.


Hadron Decay

Finally any unstable configuration of particles will decay into stable states.



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