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Present at the Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider Stated 1st Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0307591678
ISBN-10: 9780307591678
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dan Brown fans and science buffs alike will be familiar with CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), where scientists probe the origins of our universe using the largest and most powerful machine ever created, the Large Hadron Collider. In the hands of Aczel (The Cave and the Cathedral), a research fellow at Boston University, truth is more compelling than fiction. He describes CERN's ongoing research to find "the last particle needed to confirm the validity of Standard Model of particle physics" and discover the answer to how the universe got its mass. The LHC can accelerate protons up to the very edge of the speed of light; by smashing two beams of accelerated protons together, scientists hope to solve the mystery of what happened in the first "five thousand-trillionths of a second" after the creation of the universe. Aczel brings the non-scientist reader up to speed with a clear description of theoretical and experimental scientific advances over past century and the development of accelerator technology. An exciting, true scientific adventure. Illus. (Oct.)
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"A fascinating discussion of research at the cutting-edge of physics."--Arthur I. Miller, author of Deciphering the Cosmic Number

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; Stated 1st Edition edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307591678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307591678
  • ASIN: 0307591670
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amir D. Aczel, Ph.D., is the author of 17 books on mathematics and science, some of which have been international bestsellers. Aczel has taught mathematics, statistics, and history of science at various universities, and was a visiting scholar at Harvard in 2005-2007. In 2004, Aczel was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also the recipient of several teaching awards, and a grant from the American Institute of Physics to support the writing of two of his books. Aczel is currently a research fellow in the history of science at Boston University. The photo shows Amir D. Aczel inside the CMS detector of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the international laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, while there to research his new book, "Present at the Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider"--which is about the search for the mysterious Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle," dark matter, dark energy, the mystery of antimatter, Supersymmetry, and hidden dimensions of spacetime.
See Amir D. Aczel's webpage:
Video on CERN and the Large Hadron Collider:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Brian Watkins VINE VOICE on October 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The completion of repairs to CERN's new supercollider has resulted in a wealth of general science offerings devoted to the attempt to explain humanity's most expensive and complicated machine. It is quite clear that a number of publishers are hoping to ride an anticipated wave of publicity to great profit--if and when the Higgs boson is discovered. Having previously tackled several of the related books, I am pleased to say that this volume is one of Dr. Aczel's best efforts; it provides an excellent road map to the intricacies of the standard model--which I now understand a bit better than before--and provides both a more informative and more entertaining read than its competition. To be sure, this is no replacement for a text nor should anyone think of it in that light; rather, it is a story about discovery.

To even begin to intelligently discuss the science that makes the supercollider relevant requires massive amounts of backstory. The reader must be introduced to fantastically complex theoretical musings and, I think some editor somewhere has dictated that no equations may be used, although a few of them crept into the appendix. Here is where Dr. Aczel's effort is superior. His recital of the basic underlying scientific principles has all the hallmarks of a capable lecturer--other authors in this area focus almost entirely on their unique and valuable contributions to the science in such a way that makes an understanding of the whole picture somewhat difficult, but this more general work is better able to convey the sense of wonder and shared discovery that motivates scientists to keep digging deeper into nature's inner workings.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Milliern on August 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A 3-star rating from means that I don't recommend a particular book, but I would not, in general, deter people from reading it. It also means that, in my opinion, if you don't get to this book on your reading list, then it is not a big deal; no loss.

I want to formally begin by saying that, for those who do not like this book, this work is not really representative of the quality of Aczel's craft and ability. He really is a rare specimen of genius, in that his genius spills over from the world of mathematics and into the finer, more liberal arts, as attested to by his prose. In sum, Aczel could have done much better with this work. I think some issues in this book's construction were his fault, while many others were problems arising from the nature of the subject matter (i.e., the genre, popular physics), and the problem of being slightly out of his depth in subtler matters of the history of science (see the link to my blog post below).

Some portions of this book are brilliantly composed, as one comes to expect from Aczel's works, like "Fermat's Last Theorem," for example. In other places, I could hardly figure out why Aczel was including a particular bit of information, such as talking about the world's largest tunnels in the world, of which the LHC's is not one of them. I see that he was trying to give the reader some amount of perspective, but I don't think the discussion was helpful (and that most would not find it helpful), and I seriously believe that it took away from the book; I felt like it was filler. In the first part of the book (the first 3 chapters, I think), Aczel bombards the reader with an endless series of numbers, some of which are helpful, but most just make the text a mess.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Cyrus Webb TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It is obvious in talking with bestselling author Amir Aczel on my radio show that he has a real passion for life, and it would be impossible to read his newest book PRESENT AT THE CREATION and not realize that he has just as much passion about math and the world around us. The book takes us into unprecedented access of the mechanism that explores the world that lies beyond what we see with the naked eye, and help us to realize really how small and insignificant we are.

If you are a lover of science and curious about the lives of those who are giving us the knowledge of the world we take for granted, then PRESENT AT THE CREATION is a book you definitely want to take your time and enjoy.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Keith H. Bray on December 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
After reading Massive it was not a difficult task to pick up Present at Creation ("PAC") as there is some overlap in content, although Massive is primarily about the Higgs mechanism (Higgs field and Higgs boson). As the subtitle states, this book is primarily about the story of CERN and the LHC ("Large Hadron Collider"), which presently, and in the near future, is smashing accelerated proton streams at 99.9999964 % of the speed of light, and by using two separate beams containing approximately 7 trillion volts (7 TeV). This last achievement occurred on March 19, 2010. Despite these highlights and descriptions, this is probably the only issue one would have with the books contents--they are primarily descriptive without providing the prescriptive contect in enable the reader to recall what they previously read. Another problem is that the book often repeats itself and is painfully descriptive for a popular level science book (e.g., chapters 8 through 10). There are many incredible facts one gleaned from the passages of the particle chapters--including color photographs and one of the best summaries on quarks I have read to date. Aside from these issues, PAC is fantastic at its storytelling goal.

As the beams collide, there are four specific locations at CERN where pictures are taken at each of the four detectors named at the LHC: the ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and the LHCb--each unit set up for a specific purpose in analyzing the collisions. The first chapter of PAC is to provide a lay of the land relating to CERN and the LHC. Moreover, besides a diagram showing the 8 points around the LHC that contain the different detectors, their placement and purpose, the remainder is to unpack the nature of LHC's quest, which is reiterated at the end chapter and appendix.
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