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Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe Hardcover – December 10, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Overall, I must say that I found this to be a surprisingly interesting book. The author did a great job of making his subject interesting and informative, and very reachable. I mean, while I have read such books as Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, I am for the most part a physics neophyte. Nonetheless, I had no problem following the ideas the author went through, as he unfolded the history of our understanding of the neutrino. Also, I must say that I enjoyed his stories of the personalities of the many physicists, some of whom were quite fascinating people indeed.
So, let me just say that if you like a good book on a deep subject, then I do think that you will like this book. I enjoyed it immensely, and was rather sorry when I reached the final page.
Along the way, the reader is given a brief overview of the early development of nuclear physics as well as mini-biographical snippets of many of the often-colorful individuals that have been involved over the decades. Also, the reader is treated to how the neutrino’s properties were eventually teased out through theory, observations, e.g., the solar neutrino problem, the insight of brilliant theorists and the ingenuity of gifted experimentalists. Finally, the surprisingly many fields in which the neutrino figures prominently are also explored.
The author’s prose is at once friendly, lively, fast-paced, clear, captivating and widely accessible. The book even includes a glossary that is sure to help the less-informed readers. As an avid science enthusiast, I was already very familiar with several parts of the story described here. However, the book contains much information that I was not aware of, such as some of the different neutrino detection techniques and especially the recently-suggested practical uses for neutrinos. Because of the lack of unexplained jargon, I believe that this is book can be enjoyed any interested individuals no matter what their background.
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discovering is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny..." Issac Asimov
I have to admit some trepidation approaching this book. I am very interested in scientific topics particularly as they relate to astronomy and this book was highly recommended in Scientific American. Acquiring a firm understanding of the new physics has always been a challenge for this student. I am not bashful to admit that, so with that said my comments on this book.
The following are some of the topics discussed, which I quote or summarize, that I found of interest, but it is by no means all-inclusive.
· The Ice Cube observatory: The glacial ice at depths of over a mile serves the same purpose as the mirror of a conventional astronomical telescope. 86 steel cable suspended in mile deep drilled holes support 5,160 optical sensors that detect any blue flash of light which may indicated the detection of the weirdest and most elusive subatomic particle the neutrino.
· Neutrinos are elementary particles - have no electrical charge and a tiny mass - they are fundamental building blocks of matter but hardly ever interact with other particles.
· A typical neutrino can travel through a light-year's worth of lead without interacting with any atoms.
· In order to raise the odds of detecting neutrinos scientist have build extremely large detectors like Ice Cube.
· Boris Kayser of the Fermi National Accelerator Lab states: "The Sun produces energy through nuclear reactions on which life on Earth depends, and those reactions could not occur without neutrinos.Read more ›
Ray Jayawardhana talks about physics without the math, except for the ubiquitous E=mc² of Einstein. "RayJay" tells stories (short biographies, anecdotes, history and science) involving the usual, and not so usual, suspects having to do with mathematics and particle physics over the last century and a half. There is sufficient history and background in the book that those of us who last attended science classes nearly half a century ago can understand what is going on without taking refresher courses. The search for the neutrino is told as a multi-generation detective story from Wolfgang Pauli's attempt to account for missing energy in beta decay measurements to today's attempts to find the mass of three (or possibly four?) neutrinos and anti-neutrinos. In addition there is a timeline and a glossary to help keep track of things without having to page back through the book if something is missed. For those who want, there are notes following the glossary for further reading. The information density was sufficient that I felt I was learning but not so dense that I became lost in esoterica.
It's a good, fast paced, almost easy, read. Three sessions on my exercise bicycle, with a little Doctor Who on the TV in the background and I'm finished. Darn. Note to self: get a copy of RayJay's Star Factories: The Birth of Stars and Planets - soon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jayawarohana is a physicist, so why isn't he clear about what particles the neutrino interacts with and how it interacts? I think it was a bad editorial call. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Donald E. Fulton
After reading a couple of pages of this book I wrote it off as impossibly dumbed down. A week later I picked it up again and read it cover to cover in a day, couldn't put it down. Read morePublished 3 months ago by radioarno
The book is excellent reading. This should be enough for a undergraduate physics student to get a lay of the land. Don't belive me? Read morePublished 6 months ago by Socio-physicist
Excellent Book, it really covered a topic that no one really seems to get into. It does get deep but like I've said on some of my other reviews if you have the match and the... Read morePublished 14 months ago by BigDrM
A very good review of where the current level of understanding of Neutrinos is, and how we got there. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Lewis T. Fitch
A great introduction to the field of neutrino physics, for anyone. The book can be read and enjoyed by those who have never taken a physics class, and can also be a good overview... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jeremy
It is possible to make popular science engaging as the great adventure it is with the mysteries of the universe and great adventurers doing what everyone said was impossible... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Richard Frantz Jr.
As an "expert" who knew most of the early players, I found it informative. The friends that I recommended it to, however, did not read too far before putting the book... Read morePublished 20 months ago by lee grodzins