Professor and documentary producer David E. Kaplan received the 2015 Communication Award of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), Engineering, and Medicine for his contributions to the production of Particle Fever. The award, which is supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation as part of the Keck Futures Initiative, includes a $20,000 prize and recognizes excellence in communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. Kaplan and the film’s director and co-producer, Mark Levinson, won the award in the TV/Film/Radio category for their feature-length documentary about the identification of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. Particle Fever was one of five journalistic works to be honored by the National Academies in 2015.
Particle Fever was selected from 344 entries of works published or aired in 2014 and was evaluated by the NAS communication awards selection committee. The committee cited the documentary “an engrossing, minute-by-minute diary of the roller-coaster nature of scientific discovery.” Particle Fever has received critical acclaim for making complex theoretical arguments about particle physics comprehensible. The film was shot over seven years and follows both experimental and theoretical physicists as they approach the announcement from CERN of the confirmed existence of the Higgs boson, popularly referred to as the “God particle.”