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Publisher: Plume Books$12.75
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The Higgs boson is the particle that more than six thousand scientists have been looking for using the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and highest energy particle accelerator, which lies in a tunnel 17 miles in circumference, as deep as 575 feet beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It took ten years to build and this search has now cost over $9 billion and required the collaboration of engineers from more than one hundred countries.
What is so special about the Higgs boson? We didn't really know for sure if anything at the subatomic level had any mass at all until we found it. The fact is, while we have now essentially solved the mass puzzle, there are things we didn't predict and possibilities we haven't yet dreamed. A doorway is opening into the mind boggling, somewhat frightening world of dark matter. We only discovered the electron just over a hundred years ago and considering where that took us--from nuclear energy to quantum computing--the inventions that will result from the Higgs discovery will be world-changing.
"The Particle at the End of the Universe" not only explains the importance of the Higgs boson but also the Large Hadron Collider project itself. Projects this big don't happen without a certain amount of conniving, dealing, and occasional skullduggery-- and Sean Carroll explores it all. This is an irresistible story (including characters now set to win the Nobel Prize among other glories) about the greatest scientific achievement of our time.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-09-24
- Reviewer: Staff
With his trademark wit and lucidity, Carroll (From Eternity to Here) delivers the story of the search for the elusive Higgs boson—the Holy Grail of particle physics—which was finally discovered earlier in 2012. The tale, says Carroll, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, is one of “money, politics, and jealousy” among scientists and nations seeking the prize. The Higgs boson is not an atomic particle; it’s part of the Higgs field that pervades the universe and gives atomic particles their mass. The quest for the elusive particle required a cutting-edge tool: the massive, complex Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. Carroll takes readers inside the collider’s 17-mile ring, where protons zoom around at ultrahigh speeds to smash together, revealing telltale signs of the boson. Along the way Carroll introduces researchers like Mike Lamont, the LHC’s “Mister Scott”; engineer Lyn Evans, the man who built the LHC; and Fabiola Gianotti, one of the top women scientists in the world. Whether explaining complex physics like field theory and symmetry or the workings of particle accelerators, Carroll’s clarity and unbridled enthusiasm reveal the pure excitement of discovery as much as they illuminate the facts. Illus. (Nov.)