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Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192804341
ISBN-10: 0192804340
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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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804341
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We owe a debt of gratitude to Frank Close for writing such a short and comprehensible introduction to a field that, in everyday scientific practice, is as technical and complex as they come. It is a major accomplishment to set out, in under 150 pages, not just the history of particle physics, the scales of time and space being investigated, the development of experimental techniques from Rutherford to the Large Hadron Collider, and the key concepts of the standard model that has dominated particle physics for more than 30 years.

Indeed, the neat overview and classification of elementary particles and their interactions in the standard model is sufficient reason to keep this book close at hand.

As befits a very short introduction, the book devotes only limited space to more speculative ideas such as supersymmetry, and indeed strings are mentioned only once. Even so, a few authoritative pages dealing with unsolved theoretical and conceptual problems as they relate to particle physics would have been helpful.

Close is associated with CERN and an enthusiastic advocate of multi-billion dollar particle accelerators. While these machines are indeed impressive, an outside observer cannot help but wonder whether such a regimented and bureaucratic approach to science has not already reached severely diminishing marginal returns. It will be interesting to look back in a few years' time at whether this heavy investment of taxpayer money has paid the dividends in new knowledge and insight that Close and others like him hope for.
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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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