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Antimatter [Paperback]

Frank Close
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 4, 2010 0199578877 978-0199578870
Of all the mind-bending discoveries of physics--quarks, black holes, strange attractors, curved space--the existence of antimatter is one of the most bizarre. It is also one of the most difficult, literally and figuratively, to grasp.

Antimatter explores this strange mirror world, where particles have identical yet opposite properties to those that make up the familiar matter we encounter everyday, where left becomes right, positive becomes negative, and where--should matter and antimatter meet--the resulting flash of blinding energy would make even thermonuclear explosions look feeble by comparison. Antimatter is an idea long beloved of science-fiction writers--but here, renowned science writer Frank Close shows that the reality of antimatter is even more intriguing than the fiction. We know that at one time antimatter and matter existed in perfect counterbalance, and that antimatter then perpetrated a vanishing act on a cosmic scale that remains one of the great mysteries of the universe. Today, antimatter does not exist normally, at least on Earth, but we know that it is real, as scientists are now able to make small pieces of it in particle accelerators, such as that at CERN in Geneva. Looking at the remarkable prediction of antimatter and how it grew from the meeting point of relativity and quantum theory in the early 20th century, at the discovery of the first antiparticles, at cosmic rays, annihilation, antimatter bombs, and antiworlds, Close separates the facts from the fiction about antimatter, and explains how its existence can give us profound clues about the origins and structure of the universe.

For all those wishing to take a closer look at the flip side of the visible world, this lucidly written book shines a bright light into a truly strange realm.

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Editorial Reviews


"A fascinating read on an exotic subject... Highly recommended." --CHOICE

"For all those wishing to take a closer look at the flip side of the visible world, this lucidly written book shines a bright light into a truly strange realm." --Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin

"The concept of antimatter is still strange, but it's far less opaque after a read through Oxford physicist Frank Close's compact, surprisingly unintimidating book."

About the Author

Frank Close, OBE, is Professor of Physics at Oxford University and a Fellow of Exeter College. He was formerly vice president of the British Association for Advancement of Science and Head of the Theoretical Physics Division at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling Lucifer's Legacy, and the winner of the Kelvin Medal of the Institute of Physics for his "outstanding contributions to the public understanding of physics."

Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199578877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199578870
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Popular Science Primer on Anti-Matter July 18, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Physicist Frank Close offers a short but enlightening look at a frequently misunderstood aspect of physical reality in his book Antimatter. In about 150 pages, Close delivers a solid summary of the historical and current research into the nature of the tricky particles, especially the positron.

As a physics buff, albeit a non-technical one, Close's descriptions and narrative are easy to follow and not overly-detailed. He keeps close to his main points, explaining the nature of antimatter and exposing some of the latest experiments into its properties, without overburdening the reader with dense technical interjections. While I thought I understood antimatter prior to reading this book, Close provided a strong overview that supplements the understanding of most any popular physics reader, myself included.

Close explores many of the theories surrounding the symmetries between normal matter and antimatter, as well as offering some thoughts on why we might see a universe which appears to be largely devoid of antimatter. While a small handful of antimatter particles have been created in labs around the world, as well as a few dozen antihydrogen atoms, the mysterious lack of antimatter in the universe remains one of the questions needing a great deal of further research to explain. Close uses the Tunguska event to explore the possibility that a chunk of antimatter could have caused the currently unexplained explosion in 1908 (Close determines it was not antimatter, but leaves the question open until the latter chapters). The author also debunks most of the antimatter properties and usages found in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, as well as the idea that antimatter is likely to supplement traditional sources of energy found on the planet.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book on Physics September 4, 2009
This is a superb book! The title is Antimatter, but don't be fooled: The book is about a lot more than antimatter. Prof. Close is a great physicist, and he has been involved with the LHC at CERN. His book explains everything in a perfectly clear and understandable way so that you understand the theory and the applications behind the work of CERN in general, and of the Large Hadron Collider. This is the best book on particle physics, written by a top scientist, and it is written in a style that makes it not only very clear--but also a lot of fun to read! The stories here are amazing!! Congratulations, Dr. Close!!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book July 2, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Despite this book being on the "shorter" side, it's an excellent book -- well worth reading.

This book is written for the usual armchair scientist (no heavy math) but goes into enough details to be meaningful. In particular, this book explains Dirac's mathematical work in predicting antimatter ... from which one can really appreciate Dirac's mental genius.

Can't go wrong buying this book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Small Gem with Small Flaw March 15, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This short book is a friendly, well written treatment of particle physics with special attention paid to anti-matter.

The last chapter (9) of the book "debunking" prospects for commercial or military use of anti-matter is fine, I guess, but seemed unnecessary - it did seem to make this otherwise charming book end on a lower plane.

The book is good if you like particle physics and are a layperson. If you want more, I suggest "Lightness of Being" by Wilczek (another physicist). Relatedly, the recent biography of Dirac (the theoretician) is also quite good: "The Strangest Man," by Farmelo.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Antimatter is one of the most intriguing discoveries in all of twentieth century Physics. The idea that there is material reality that is in some sense "opposite" to our own seems bizarre and almost occult. And yet, antimatter is very much real, albeit extremely hard to come by. All of what we see in the Universe is overwhelmingly made of the "regular" matter, and it took some highly sophisticated theoretical speculation coupled with extremely ingenious experimental work to convince the world of the reality of antimatter. For the past eighty plus years antimatter has been a subject of intense scientific research as well as the endless source of fascination in the works of popular science and science fiction. A big part of this fascination is due to the fact that antimatter could be used as a very effective and compact source of energy: a single gram of antimatter could release more energy than some of the early nuclear weapons. This feature of antimatter has made it a preferred choice for fueling intergalactic travel in Star Trek, the main destructive weapon in Dan Brown's Angels & Demons, as well as an explanation of the 1908 Tunguska explosion. In recent years there has been a lot of speculation even in the mainstream news sources that the US military is actively working on weaponizing antimatter.

Because of the antimatter's exotic nature that is nothing short of miraculous, it has often been very hard to separate the fact from fiction in all of the accounts of its properties. In this short book Frank Close attempts to do just that - explain what antimatter really is, how was it discovered, what is it good for, and how plausible are many of the claims about it that have been circulating around lately.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Antimatter by Frank Close
Antimatter by Frank Close is a very interesting as most people do not understand the importance of Antimatter to Physics!!!
Published 2 months ago by G. S. Levin
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoruoghly enjoyed it
A very easy read into the world of anti matter and how it relates to the field of particle physics. This book is to anyone interested in modern physics for the layman.
Published 2 months ago by Roy weinberg
2.0 out of 5 stars AntiFulfilling
More toward pedestrian science. Simply avoids any serious issues involved in the subject for anyone whose either read a lot of pulp physics or taken any physics past the 200s. Read more
Published 4 months ago by charles silva
5.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding read. You will walk around knowing a little more about...
Great little book on anti-matter. Well written. A smooth read even for the non-science geek. I actually found it very entertaining and I really don't like reading books.
Published 6 months ago by Dr. Steven Hutsell
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle is a very good way to read a book, but as I told you before I...
Good book, interesting and the author knows what he's writing about. I do not mark the other star, because I'm still a paper hooked man.
Published 8 months ago by José Luis Delgado
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse Into One of the Biggest Mysteries of the Universe
Antimatter is one of the most intriguing discoveries in all of twentieth century Physics. The idea that there is material reality that is in some sense "opposite" to our own seems... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Dr. Bojan Tunguz
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy , Happy
Love the Book !
Everything That I wanted .
Good Reading From Start to Finish .
Everything You Wanted to Know And More !
Published 17 months ago by The One Kid Hifi
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Interesting explanation and well crafted structure. Definitely targeted at readers with interest but not necessary a degree in quantum physics.
Published 20 months ago by Andy kelsall
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
For those who are fascinated by the atomic world, this book is a great read in easy to understand language. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The subatomic particles of matter and antimatter
This is another book in the easy-to-read style of Frank Close, Emeritus Fellow in Physics at the University of Oxford . Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dr. H. A. Jones
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