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The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? [Paperback]

Leon Lederman , Dick Teresi
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 26, 2006 9780618711680 978-0618711680 Reprint

A fascinating tour of particle physics from Nobel Prize winner Leon Lederman.

 

At the root of particle physics is an invincible sense of curiosity. Leon Lederman embraces this spirit of inquiry as he moves from the Greeks' earliest scientific observations to Einstein and beyond to chart this unique arm of scientific study. His survey concludes with the Higgs boson, nicknamed the God Particle, which scientists hypothesize will help unlock the last secrets of the subatomic universe, quarks and all—it's the dogged pursuit of this almost mystical entity that inspires Lederman's witty and accessible history.


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The "God particle" of the title is Lederman's term for what other physicists call a Higgs boson--a hypothetical particle that might hold a key to the subatomic world of quarks and leptons. To find out if a Higgs boson indeed exists, this Nobel laureate in physics conceived of the Superconducting Super Collider, which, if constructed, would be the world's most powerful particle accelerator. Writing with Teresi (coauthor of The Three-Pound Universe ), Lederman first surveys moments of discovery from Newton to Einstein in a breezy, folksy style that can be annoying ("Galileo was an irascible sort of guy . . . . He could be a pain in the ass"). This style, however, serves the reader well when Lederman and Teresi enter the complexities of subatomic physics, clarifying the search for squarks and winos, grand unified theories, superstrings and dark matter. $100,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Nobel Laureate and physicist Lederman is funny, clever, entertaining, and highly accessible as he charts the course of experimental physics from 430 B.C. to the planned opening of the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC), of which he is one of the principal architects. This book might be seen, in fact, as a sort of advertisement for the SSC, answering as it does the question, What is the SSC for ? Even allowing for Lederman's open bias toward big physics, his book is a delight to read and absorb, far more accessible than most books about contemporary physics, because it is rooted in the experimental; the "God particle" of the title is the missing link of experimental physics, just as this book is the missing link between a complex world and the general reader. By contrast, Amit Goswami (physics, Univ. of Oregon) is interested in the metaphysical, or perhaps the meta-metaphysical. Drawing heavily on New Age and Eastern philosophical concepts, he attempts to demonstrate that the world as we know it is but a construct of human consciousness; mind, not matter, is the stuff of which we are made. Where Lederman explains for the delight of knowing, Goswami explains only to support his thesis, making for a much more abstract and strange book. All but the converted will find this heavy sledding. The books are thus not interchangeable: Lederman will appeal to those interested in learning about science and the physical world, Goswami to those seeking a hip confirmation of their own sense of self-enlightenment.
- Mark Shelton, Athens, Ohio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780618711680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618711680
  • ASIN: 0618711686
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leon M. Lederman, Nobel Laureate (Batavia, IL), is Resident Scholar at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Director Emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Pritzker Professor of Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the author of the highly acclaimed The God Particle, the editor of Portraits of Great American Scientists, and a contributor to Science Literacy for the Twenty-First Century. Dr. Lederman and coauthor Christopher T. Hill are also the coauthors of Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As elusive in this book as in the real world August 24, 2008
Format:Paperback
As with most physics books we get a history lesson of the long road of discoveries that has led up to our current point in research, in this case the higgs boson. The history section is probably one of the best written in physics books but unfortunately that's not why I had read the book. The section that actually concerns the title of the book is actually pretty small. The second part of the book is more concerned with the authors history with Fermi lab, winning the nobel prize, interesting anecdotes and some friendships with other physicists. The God particle subject is very elusive in this book, as it is in the real world.
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78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece! May 31, 2001
By Hrvoje
Format:Paperback
Leon Lederman is an experimental physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in physics (1988). If there will be Nobel Prize for the humor, he will be double winner. I read more than 100 books about popular physics, quantum theory and cosmology and this book is certainly in my Top 5 of all time! From the first hand you can read all newest information about what experimental physicists do, where are the problems, what is the next discovery they expect, and how look the atmosphere between scientists in the lab. In this book you can also read a much about history of experimental physics. But the main subject of this book is search for mysterious particle, Higss boson (God particle).
Why all material things have a mass? Nobody knows. God particle is propose to be an answer. Problem is that this particle is never been seen to interact with other particles or even to exist. It is pure imagination. But, if Higgs boson does not exist there will be a lot of serious problems for todays physical theories.
'The God Particle' is written with such a great charm and humor that I can not imagine better style than his. Lederman is first-class mind and in this book there are no speculations and mysticism, but only a pure scientific facts.
It seems to me that always a greatest minds (Gell-Mann, Feynman, Hawking, Weinberg,...) write a best book on the subject. This is the one. No doubt 'God Particle' deserve all 5 stars. Enjoy your self!
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant book, but needs updating December 29, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant book. The book speaks for itself. My words can't do it justice. I think everyone should read this book.

The only thing that bothers me about it is that it needs updating. The author of this new edition did explain in the forward that it was written over a decade ago, in anticipation of the SSC, whose funding got cut. However, that is not enough. If the author or publisher did not want to update the text of the book itself, they should have provided footnotes throughout. For example, when it mentions that the top quark has not been discovered, that deserves a comment about its discovery, if not an appendix. It wouldn't take that much effort to just add footnotes, and it would help make the book more timeless.

Also, the paper in this edition could be better. The quality is not quite as bad as "mass market paperback", but almost.

Regardless of my few negative comments, this is one of the all-time best scientific books written for a popular audience.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars my personal review January 15, 2012
By YNK
Format:Paperback
What I am about to write only reflects my personal thoughts on this book:

1- I find the title of the book misleading, as VERY little is dedicated to the Higgs boson in the book... very disappointing, as I bought the book to learn more about it.

2- I didn't really like the sense of humour used in the book, but I guess that's subjective.

3- I didn't appreciate the lack of humility of the author either, and his unsubtle bragging about Nobel Prize and his work at Fermilab.

4- Finally, the book needs updating, as although it was "recently" published, the content is from 1993.

It's probably a good book for those who want to read about the history of physics discoveries, but certainly not for those - like me - who wanted to know more about the Higgs boson...
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
A tremendously entertaining book covering much of the history of physics by one of the best known particle physicists. Lederman's book is interspersed with some of the most humorous stories I've ever read in a science book and I can't resist sharing two of them here. In an imaginary conversation with the greek philosopher Democritus, Lederman is talking about how elusive the Higgs particle is, and comments that the book's title refers to this particle, but that his publisher wouldn't allow the book to be called "The God-damned Particle. The second is from a discussion of building a piece of laboratory equipment to use in a particle accelerator. They acquired a 12 inch naval cannon to use as a collimator, and needed to fill it with beryllium as a filter, but the inside of the bore had deep rifling grooves. He sent a skinny graduate student inside the tube to stuff steel wool into the grooves. After a few hours of work, the graduate student crawled out all hot, sweaty and irritated and said "I quit," to which Lederman is said to have replied, "You can't quit, where will I find another student of your caliber?"
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ride along on a 2500 year quest December 9, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Dr. Lederman takes the reader through the history of the search for the smallest building block(s) of the universe, from the thought experiments of Greek philosopher Democritus through today's superconducting supercolliders. Along the way he never fails to entertain with his wit.
When I wasn't laughing out loud or bugging my wife by reading her funny snippets, I was wishing I had read this book BEFORE college (where I took four freshman/sophomore level physics classes to satisfy the science requirements for my engineering degree.) After reading this book I understand much more about subjects I allegedly "learned" in college, including the model of the chemical atom, what a quark is, etc. I also feel better about not liking the "hand-waving" involved in quantum physics. (If nothing else, at least I'm in good company with Einstein.) In addition, the insight into how science was and is actually practiced is fascinating.
I am giving this as a present to my college-bound nephew!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars quantum physics
A nice summary for of the search for the most basic unit of matter for the non physicist at times difficult to follow but inte
Published 3 days ago by rodrigo miranda
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Research, Great Book
This is a great book. There is so much here, and the research is fascinating.
Published 5 days ago by Marilynn Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific history/overview of physics/particle_physics by a Smart and...
I've read many books on this subject. Lederman's is the best and most accessible, though now slightly dated. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael D. Fahey
1.0 out of 5 stars "Printing errors"
A do appreciate Ledrman as an author.
Howeever, there are a lot of "printing" errors in the Kindle edition!
Can you fix that?
Published 2 months ago by Leen noordzij
5.0 out of 5 stars A great physics history book with humor
I have this book on Kindle, the original hardback, and now the new paperback that has the authors new preface.
Published 2 months ago by TomS
4.0 out of 5 stars Good particle science story
Very interesting and insightful. Sometimes confusing...with particle details!
I overall enjoyed it. No science background required to read this book.
Published 3 months ago by J. Buzzalino
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW! from a layman
Mr. Lederman, thank you for putting IT all in plain language; I agree with your statement in Chapter 9: "the arguments were abstract, mathematical, and very lively. Read more
Published 3 months ago by DoubleM
4.0 out of 5 stars That's a good question!
Leon Lederman explains the sub atomic world in a manner that can be understood by those of us with only a layman's understanding of physics. He's really funny too!
Published 3 months ago by Joey Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not really Rocket Science...
This feels like it was written for almost anyone to comprehend. I'm not a dummy, but I also do not have a PHD in theoretical physics. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazcfa
5.0 out of 5 stars The God Particle
This is a wonderful look at quantum theory in a very funny, understandable way! I think the reader needs some background in science or at least a healthy curiosity. Read more
Published 5 months ago by doctorT
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