"Déjà Vu" movie time machine inspired by CDF detector
The fictional time machine from the movie "Déjà Vu." Symmetry magazine ran a longer version of this story.
Image courtesy of Touchstone Home Entertainment.
As Clark Cully watched the movie "Déjà Vu" with his parents, something about the movie's time machine--with its bright blue wedges of metal spewing a ring of wires--seemed eerily familiar.
As Denzel Washington crawled into the time machine to travel to the past, Cully leaped up and hit pause. "It's CDF! It's CDF!" he shouted.
Cully works as a physicist on Fermilab's CDF experiment.
When he enlarged the TV image of the time machine, there was the CDF logo on one of the wedges. "To really make that accurate a reproduction," Cully said, "you would have had to see the detector or the specs."
The film crew probably did.
Production designer Chris Seager said he first considered medical technology, such as an MRI scanner, as the model for a time machine. But the hardware seemed too small. He visited power plants, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Cambridge High Energy Physics Laboratory looking for inspiration. It was the roundness of particle accelerators, and their raw display of wires and sensors, that caught his attention and provided the wanted feeling of evolving science.
"We wanted to keep things very much grounded and make it feel like the machine had come from a real laboratory," Seager said. "We found some fabulous references on the Internet to enormous pieces of equipment," and incorporated the look of those detectors.
While Cully burst with excitement at seeing the CDF in the movie, his family was more subdued.
His parents and sister looked confused. "They asked me, 'What's CDF?'" Cully says, with obvious disappointment. "I guess my family didn't remember the tour I gave them, or that I'm writing my thesis on it."
-- Haley Bridger
The CDF detector