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Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction [Paperback]

Frank Close
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 29, 2004 0192804340 978-0192804341
In Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction, best-selling author Frank Close provides a compelling and lively introduction to the fundamental particles that make up the universe. The book begins with a guide to what matter is made up of and how it evolved, and goes on to describe the fascinating and cutting-edge techniques used to study it. The author discusses particles such as quarks, electrons, and the neutrino, and exotic matter and antimatter. He also investigates the forces of nature, accelerators and detectors, and the intriguing future of particle physics. This book is essential reading for general readers interested in popular science, students of physics, and scientists at all levels.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Frank Close is a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London. He has published several books, including the bestselling Lucifer's Legacy, and was the winner of the Kelvin Medal of the Institute of Physics.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804341
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not boring to read October 24, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is excellent for anyone who would like to learn fundamentals of particle physics, or refresh his or her basic knowledge in the area. Particles are on the forefront of physics, with new ones discovered or proven to exist not long ago, with new theories emerging, or old ones confirmed or found inconsistent, chances are what we know about particles today is somewhat different than what you may have learned in school back.

Interesting facts and easy to understand comparisons make this book captivating. It explains the structure of atoms, and subatomic particles, as well as methods and instruments used to study them. Sometimes the book is repetitive, but repetition is one of the key aspects of learning.

Overall, this very short introduction feels very fresh and light to a reader, and the last chapter that focuses on current high priority theories to be proven, gives an excellent outlook of what may await us in the future, giving this book balanced perspective.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Particle Physics for the rest of us June 6, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the most intriguing and fascinating scientific stories of the 20th century has been the incredible advance in our understanding of matter in its most fundamental form. In a nutshell, the 20th century has seen the vindication of the atomic hypothesis: all of the nature, the matter and even the interactions of matter, can be reduced to a finite number of indivisible particles. It turns out that atoms, the original candidates for irreducible particles as their name suggests, are in fact composed of a myriad other particles which to the best of our knowledge and understanding are truly fundamental. Furthermore, we have discovered many other particles that cannot be found in an atom, and many of those turned out to be composites of other fundamental particles. Considering how many different kinds of these extra-atomic particles were discovered, it is quite remarkable that we were able to reduce this "zoo" to just a few basic ones. This book presents an interesting and accessible account of how we managed to get to this point. The book presents both the experimental and theoretical developments in Particle Physics that has led us to the point where we are at. The book is intelligible to anyone who has any interest in the subject, and it doesn't require any special mathematical knowledge. And yet, like most books in this series, it does not condescend to the reader but tries to educate him and bring him up to the latest in our understanding of this fascinating field. All of that makes this book an enjoyable and worthwhile read.
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40 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars decent introduction, but needs more May 6, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In an introduction to a topic, one expects lots of figures to explain just about every topic. This book, and indeed the entire series, generally has rather few figures. The series also, generally, focuses on the historical development of the topic and not necessarily on the current understanding of the topic. Therefore, the series sacrifices a better explanation of our current understanding to explain who thought what and when. Nonetheless, this book serves adequately in the capacity of a "very short introduction."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bare Bones & All the Content You Need November 16, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As far as the "A Very Short Introduction" goes, this book is a little bit of an outlier. It lacks the novel approach that we tend to see in the series, which encourages us to buy them. Despite that minor oddity, Close's "Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction" is a wonderful member of the series, because it doesn't derive its value from the novelty that typifies Oxford University Press's series. The value of this work comes from the incredibly potent condensation of material that comprises it. In recently doing a survey of basic particle physics literature, I read a number of books, a number of them introductory, and I was surprised to find that the information presented in this book still had a few bits and pieces that the others missed. Therefore, if you are in the business of wanting to know quite a bit of the basics of particle physics, but without fluff, this book is the way to go. Also, the historical treatment is rather satisfying, insofar as developing a context for the scientific content.

Presentation may be an issue for some, as Close gives a just-the-facts-ma'am approach. If you are looking for an introduction is a little less stodgy and a bit more fun, I recommend considering the following, instead: "The Brittanica Guide to Particle Physics," "From Atoms to Quarks," or "The Elusive Neutrino: A Subatomic Detective Story." It is a give and take: Close's introduction has more material and the coherency of the presentation cannot be beat, but you give up style. Overall, if I am recommending a particle physics book to an undergrad, Close is the way to go. Otherwise, it really is a matter of taste and what you are looking to get out of the book, especially if entertainment is a value (the one-star review for this book was given for this reason, but, as I said, it is a matter of what you want to get out of the book, so beware).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Falls Short of Achieving its Objective February 24, 2013
By Allan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book starts well but gets about a third of the way through the topic and seems to stop. I got a taste of the topic but little statisfaction. A vey short introduction indeed.

Robert Oerter's book is much better and if you have a thirst for an understanding of this topic you would be much better off with it. (ie. The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model.....)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed
I frequently found the book to be without flow or development, often wondering how the author drew his current conclusion. Read more
Published 1 month ago by headinout
5.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Introduction to the World of Particle Physics
I just love these small books. You get a nice, brief overview of a particular subject, and there are many subjects covered by these books. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Randolph Eck
2.0 out of 5 stars Quickie Tour of Particle Physics
If you want a quick overview of Particle Physics, with specific names, this might be useful. If you want details, go elsewhere.
Published 8 months ago by R. H. Page
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading
This book is clearly written in an easy to follow and understand fashion, for the beginner who is just starting out.
Published 9 months ago by Mary Echternacht
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview
The VSI series offers short, informed and up-to-the-minute surveys of complex fields of study. This is an excellent example of the format.
Published 11 months ago by PVreader
5.0 out of 5 stars I only needed the short course
This book completely satisfied my needs for knowledge of up-to-date information on
particle physics. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Michael Becker
5.0 out of 5 stars Particle Physics
A wonderfull book, quite clear and very good for people looking for the first steps in Particle Physics. I would recomend it to high school students.
Published 14 months ago by Jose Cirne Castro
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful for the non specialist
Frank Close is a wonderful author, and this short book helped me get the basics of particle physics. It covers topics while using a language that does not get too technical. Read more
Published 15 months ago by StarSearcher
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction
Very well presented information describing the fundamentals of prticle physics. This text provided me with the background to advance to more complete writings and be able to... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Michael Kowalsky
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book to "get your feet wet" in particle physics.
This book does a great job explaining the basics of particle physics. It does not go into great detail (equations, principles, etc); it is an introduction. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Anonymous
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