Hollywood comes to CERN

At the press event at CERN for Angels & Demons, left to right: Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer with director Ron Howard (Image: CERN)

Geneva, 12 February 2009. CERN1 today hosted a visit from actors Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer and director Ron Howard as they unveiled exclusively some select footage from their new film adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons, set for worldwide release by Sony Pictures on 15 May 2009.

When Sony Pictures first contacted CERN early in 2007 about filming part of Angels & Demons there, the laboratory quickly saw an opportunity and was excited to participate.

“The fact that Angels & Demons is a best-selling novel and now a Hollywood movie gives us the opportunity to show how exciting the reality of antimatter research is,” said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci. “Both fiction and science want to take us from the ordinary to the extraordinary; the difference is that science has to operate entirely within reality.”

“It’s been a privilege working with CERN,” said director Ron Howard. “The scientists here have been incredibly helpful in explaining the science to us, and giving us access to some incredible places. I think what they’re doing here is fantastic.”

Understanding why nature prefers matter to antimatter is the main thrust of CERN’s antimatter research. When our Universe was born some 13.7 billion years ago in the Big Bang, matter and antimatter would have been created in equal quantities, and as Dan Brown correctly points out, when matter and antimatter meet, they annihilate, leaving only energy behind. One of the great mysteries of the Universe today is how enough matter has survived to provide the building blocks for stars, planets, and even us.

Antimatter has practical uses too. The medical imaging technique of PET scanning uses antimatter to help doctors visualize the functioning of the human body. The scanners used owe much to techniques developed for particle physics research. In the future, antimatter might also be used to treat cancer. Preliminary experiments carried out at CERN have shown that antimatter particle beams could be very effective at destroying cancer cells.


Notes for editors:

  1. The team behind the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code returns for the highly anticipated Angels & Demons, based upon the bestselling novel by Dan Brown. Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who once again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals. Ron Howard returns to direct the film, which is produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and John Calley. The screenplay is by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman.
  2. Columbia Pictures and Imagine Entertainment present a Brian Grazer / John Calley production, Angels & Demons. The film stars Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Directed by Ron Howard. Screenplay by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman. Produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and John Calley. Based upon the novel by Dan Brown. Executive producers are Todd Hallowell and Dan Brown.
  3. About Sony Pictures Entertainment
    Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in more than 100 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web.


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Romania is a candidate for accession. Israel is an Associate Member in the pre-stage to Membership. India, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.

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