What Are You Made Of?

Dear friend of Wonderfest,

“LET’S FIND OUT WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF!” yelled the scout troop leader. Since we were a group of wimpy greenhorns, this was not going to be much of a survival hike. At most, this stroll through the woods would generate a blister or two. Nobody would perish.

Nonetheless, even now, I appreciate the troop leader’s sentiment: he wanted us to learn more about ourselves. Self-knowledge (where “self” encompasses the entire universe!) is the impetus behind Wonderfest’s presentation of What Are You Made Of? at St. Helena’s Cameo Cinema next Monday evening, July 21. The enigmatic answer, by the way, seems to be well-captured by the blandly-titled Standard Model diagram below.


Our program will begin at 8:30 PM with a special screening of Particle Fever. This is the highly acclaimed cinematic account of the biggest, most complex experiment ever conceived: the Large Hadron Collider’s exploration of subatomic structure … i.e., of everything! And at the heart of that structure, as the Standard Model diagram asserts, is the elusive, hyper-potent Higgs boson. Evidently, the Higgs particle/field gives mass — the substance of being — to every bit of the material world.


After the movie, we will be treated to the expert commentary of UC Berkeley’s Surjeet Rajendran, a physics professor who understands both the Higgs AND the making of Particle Fever. Dr. Rajendran is a very close friend of David Kaplan, a star and producer of the movie; both physicists have made public appearances together to elucidate — and to spread — Particle Fever.

To catch the fever, yourself, please start here.


The Higgs boson walks into a catholic church. The priest asks, “What are YOU doing here?” The Higgs says, “You can’t have mass without me!” …Ugh… Later the same day, the news desk editor declares, “I don’t care what the Higgs boson headline is, just make sure we spell HADRON correctly!”


Headshot jpg final

After the heaviness (*ahem*) of What Are You Made Of?, Wonderfest will go light with Science Laughs — back in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 23. Science comedian Norm Goldblatt will crack wise with jokes much better than those “standard models” above. Norm has appeared at comedy clubs throughout the Bay Area, on NPR’s Science Friday, and at the US Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC. I hope you will join us at this FREE event by starting here.

Wondrous and risible regards,

Tucker Hiatt
Founding Executive Director