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Supersymmetry: Unveiling The Ultimate Laws Of Nature Paperback – July 3, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (July 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738204897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738204895
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #471,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Call it a preview of coming attractions. The physical theory called "supersymmetry" is as yet unproven, but its proof will unite the four fundamental forces of nature--electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces--and lead to the so-called Grand Unified Theory that physicists have long quested after. The theory underlying supersymmetry posits that every particle has a "superpartner" (a quark has a "squark," an electron a "selectron," and so on), whose existence can be adduced by observable behavior. Some of these superpartners, such as the conjectured Higgs bosons, are "really a new kind of matter," suggests physicist Gordon Kane in Supersymmetry.

The experimental proof required to validate supersymmetry will soon be available, when reconfigured particle accelerators at the Fermilab in Illinois and CERN in Switzerland go on line. These accelerators will be powerful enough to "smash" particles at hitherto unknown levels of energy. They will also be enormously expensive, Kane adds, a cost he justifies by insisting that "Society always comes out ahead, even from a purely financial perspective, when it builds such facilities, because new developments lead to 'spinoffs' that in turn lead to multibillion-dollar industries." Society will come out ahead in another way, Kane confidently predicts, with supersymmetry's providing knowledge of how the world really works. Accessible and thought-provoking, Kane's book offers a glimpse of that knowledge to come. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Physicists have, for years, used something called the "standard model" to explain the behavior of elementary particles and of the basic forces that connect them--to generally give "a complete description of how our physical world works." But the model also creates questions it can't answer: why are we made of matter and not antimatter? And why is there more gravity in the universe than all the objects we know about can produce? Kane, who teaches physics at the University of Michigan, explained the standard model in his first book for nonscientists, The Particle Garden; in this very readable follow-up, he shows how something else--"supersymmetry"--might answer the questions the standard model can't. He begins his careful map of difficult territory with an explanation of very basic terms like "particle," "equation," "structure" and "symmetry." Then he surveys what supersymmetry does: it interacts intriguingly, for example, with the recent, also speculative--but better publicized--superstring theory, and it's just now becoming testable in the newest, snazziest particle accelerators. Kane also devotes one chapter to "Testing Supersymmetry Experimentally," and another to its implications for questions about the cosmos: "Can We Really Understand the Origin of the Universe?" Equipped with his remarkable gifts for turning abstruse concepts and hard math into good English prose, he's careful to differentiate between accepted theories, currently testable hypotheses and speculations. A compact glossary gives easy access to quick definitions: many readers will need it. The same readers will probably be grateful for Kane's sophisticated, accessible guide to one of the frontiers of physics. Line illus. throughout.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It just explains too much for it not to be true.
Frank Paris
Though introduced as co-authored by Kane and Witten, the book is clearly not written in Witten's style.
Ferdinand Valk
Sets up the framework for supersymmetry nicely, but lacks details most readers would expect.
Scott Clarey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Frank Paris on May 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If I had not previously read Gordon Kane's "Particle Garden" and had only read the Amazon editorial reviews and single customer review that is currently on the site, I would not have bought and read this book. Then my understanding of the significance of symmetry, supersymmetry, and string theory and the relationships among them all would have remained fuzzy and incoherent. I have to admit that some of this stuff is still fuzzy and incoherent in my mind, but this exciting and important book cleared up so much for me that I have to regard it as one of the most enlightening books of popular science I have ever read, ranking with Guth's "Inflationary Universe" and Brian Green's "The Elegant Universe", to mention two outstanding books on related topics that have recently been published.
I have to admit that a lot of the stuff in this book is so strange and unfamiliar that I really need to go back and read the book again to pick up more of it. But this book is far superior to every other book I've read that has tried to explain Supersymmetry to me, including various Scientific American articles. Maybe I had finally collected enough background understanding for this stuff to suddenly start sinking in, but this is the first book on Supersymmetry that I've read that seems to take the subject head-on, and not back away from the daunting challenge of explaining the actual mechanics of the theory in terms a layperson can understand. And why not? Professionally, Gordon Kane is right in the middle of this, and he has a profound understanding of both the theory and the practice of particle physics.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was looking forward to this book. Supersymmetry is such a fascinating subject, it is even more fascinating if nature turns out to be indeed supersymmetric. However this book, is written in such a style that it assumes that the readers IQ is below 50. The author throughout the book tells the reader that some of the details are too complicated for the reader to comprehend. He avoids using any equations, or in that case any significant mathematical examples that are above the level of a 5th grader. However he does explain the Higgs Boson pretty well. I was disappointed that the book is not more technical, I don't mean at the undergraduate senior level, but something that you would get a great read with basic calculus skill level.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John C. McClure on November 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In his review of Gordon Kane's book Supersymetry, R.J. Fokkink bad raps Witten. The book doesn't claim to be co-authored by Witten and states only that the Forward was written by Witten--which he did.
The correct level for a book on a complicated subject such as supersymmetry is, of course, the author's first challenge and I believe that Kane shot too low. The "layman" will probably find the whole subject pretty dull and the "informed layman" familiar with the basics of the standard model won't find much that he or she didn't already know. I wish Kane and the physicists at Fermilab luck in finding a super particle in the next few years, but will be on the lookout for a more informative book on supersymmetry.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Scott on May 26, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's come to be a relief to read a book on popular physics without the obligatory chapter on Einstein. The author, Gordon Kane, spends that freed up space discussing how effective theories change the scope of physics at different scales of various parameters (size and speed being the usual ones). This is something that the general public would benefit from knowing, as a great many people think that each new scientific discovery invalidates previous knowledge instead of expanding on previous knowledge.
While Kane necessarily avoids burdensome mathematics, he does offer some "proofs" and "requirements" of supersymmetry that can be explained qualitatively. This plus the Feynman diagrams are about the best you can expect without grabbing an advanced graduate-level textbook.
One caveat: the author seems almost religiously convinced that the evidence for supersysmmetry is "just around the corner" and always speaks as if the experimental proof is a fait accompli. Based on limits to the theory, we really ought to be seeing the lightest superpartner already and the reader feels that the book takes on an unrealistically-optimistic tone.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alaturka on March 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An unabashed propaganda for the cause of supersymmetry. Gordon Kane has written this with mostly the future funding for this field of science in mind, which is obviously very near and dear to him. A bait in the form of a foreword by Witten completes the picture.
It is a good read and sums up the current issues and frontier nicely and maybe too simplistically. He has made little effort to include other perspectives or other related activities and places developments in historical context rather poorly. The habit of referencing to future sections and then continuously referencing to the previous chapters gets a little annoying. It is not a very dense or thick book.
Only chance Kane gets to make it a little interesting was the description of those engineering marvels, colliders and detectors and he cuts it very short.
One can not help but marvel at the confidence Gordon Kane and his colleagues have in the supersymmetry physics. Other than mathematical consistency and a sense of "balance and elegance", little else is there to support it. Sure, the arguments are very logical and smart but personal beliefs should not pass as science and Kane comes real close to it.
Still, it is good stuff. Certainly not a waste of time for anyone who was remote to the topic.
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