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31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199574599
ISBN-10: 0199574596
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Confronting his colleagues’ failure to explain beta radiation, the revolutionary physicist Wolfang Pauli advanced a “remedy that could seem incredible.” Still, he justified himself in risking implausibility: “Only the one who dares can win.” In this engaging account of epoch-making science, Close chronicles the astonishing consequences of Pauli’s intellectual daring. Readers see how the pioneering analyses of Ernest Rutherford first exposed the impossibility of explaining beta radiation within standard scientific formulas and how Pauli resolved the anomaly by hypothesizing a mysterious subatomic particle, dubbed the “neutrino” by an intrigued Enrico Fermi. But Pauli’s brainchild left theorists skeptical and empiricists frustrated, as they repeatedly failed in their attempts to observe the particle. Refreshingly lucid writing gives general readers access to the exciting events that finally established the reality of the neutrino while opening stunning new perspectives on the origins of the cosmos. This access not only clarifies the complex science of bosons and muons but also illuminates the cross-grained humanity of Bruno Pontecorvo, the forgotten genius whose uncanny predictions about multiflavored neutrinos have, one by one, found verification, and Ray Davis, the stubbornly determined investigator of neutrinos born of solar fusion. A striking reminder that brilliant minds can penetrate the narrowest of narrow places. --Bryce Christensen


"A skilled physicist, Mr. Close tells this story with verve and precision. His writing is admirably clear and eminently accessible.In a short compass, Mr. Close gives the reader a solid account of both the scientists involved and their crucial findings."
Wall Street Journal

"A cracking detective story...a highly-recommended book."
Science File

"A fine piece of scientific popularisation from one of the best scientific communicators around."
Literary Review

"Overall I much enjoyed reading Neutrino...and I would recommend it as an excellent introduction to the subject." -- A. Baha Balantekin, University of Wisconsin Madison

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (December 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199574596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199574599
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.8 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By AshJ VINE VOICE on January 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
These days we are all excited about the Higgs boson, but as Frank Close reminds us in his lucid and comprehensive yet succinct book, the real heroic efforts in particle physics of the twentieth century were in pursuing and hunting down the elusive neutrino. The neutrino is copiously produced by solar processes and every second billions of neutrinos astonishingly pass through our bodies, yet the particle has no charge and for a long time was postulated to have no mass, which made its detection difficult to put it mildly.

Close documents the initial theoretical efforts by Wolfgang Pauli, Enrico Fermi and others to explain atomic processes like beta decay by invoking the neutrino. But the real heroes in the story are the experimentalists who spent their entire careers and gambled their scientific lives in dogged pursuit of this ghost particle. It was Bruno Pontecorvo, a protege of Fermi who realized that one could set up chlorine tanks near nuclear reactors to detect the existence of neutrinos. Pontecorvo also proposed other creative and theoretical ideas to capture and analyze neutrinos. He certainly deserved and would probably have won a Nobel Prize had he lived long enough and not defected to the Soviet Union. After Pontecorvo, the great modern heroes of the neutrino story are Raymond Davis and John Bahcall who spent their lives making heroic efforts to nail down the identity of Fermi's "little neutral one". Davis read Pontecorvo's paper in the early 50s and decided to set up an ambitious experiment with a chlorine tank several kilometers underground in an abandoned mine. The location was necessary to shield out other radiation from cosmic rays and capture only neutrinos, which being massless can travel virtually unimpeded through the earth.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
We don't find it at all odd that photons, particles of light, should pass right through glass. Transparency is a property, though, that not all matter has, so the photons stop somewhere, and light up objects for us to see. It is peculiar, though, to think that other particles might find you and me transparent, or in fact shoot through the whole Earth (or anything else) as easily as photons go through glass. Such particles indeed exist. Neutrinos weigh almost nothing (gather 100,000 of them and you might outweigh an electron) and they have no charge, but they go almost as fast as light through matter as if it were not there, that is, they don't interact with whatever they are passing through. They have been called "ghost particles," but they are far more common than any spooks. According to _Neutrino_ (Oxford University Press) by physicist Frank Close, there are more neutrinos than there are electrons or any other subatomic particle. And they zip all around; something like forty million of them shoot through your eyeballs every second. Reading Close's book is a good introduction to a very peculiar particle, and to many allied themes in physics and cosmology. Be warned, however, that this is all so unlike the Newtonian physics and the high school chemistry with which you may be familiar that much of what Close describes is going to remain mysterious. As a tale about the hunt for the neutrino, and the tenacious researchers who lassoed the ghost, Close's brief book is a pleasing story about scientific success.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Frank Close can explain anything and everything. And make it interesting if not downright fascinating. On the surface, neutrinos are a very technical subject that should be beyond most people's skills. Frank Close turned the search for the nuetrino into a excellent who-did-what-and-when. I highly recommend this book.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tghu Verd on May 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sadly, Brian Greene has spoilt me when it comes to science writing. Frank Close is OK, but not in the same league, at least not in this short story about the prediction and discovery of natures elusive neutrino.

There's around 166 pages but that includes a lot of repetition and rehashing so it kind of dragged on a bit. Oh, and there's a LOT of "see my other book" stuff going on which I get, the guy needs to make a living, but I found it too "look at me, look at me" and that was distracting.

But the main gripe I had with "Neutrino" is that it essentially stopped without really imparting how neutrino's having mass, albeit slight, and being able to change type worries away at the cherished standard theory that physicists hang their hat on these days. The brilliance of Pauli, the genius of Pontecorvo and the determination of Davis deserved to be told, but the implications, now that's the real story. And for me Close did not drive that home.

So, it was an OK read on a long flight from Johannesburg to Sydney, but it did not make me want to rush out and buy his other recent books Antimatter or Nothing: A Very Short Introduction.
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