From Publishers Weekly
Grand unification theories have long been a holy grail in science. Nobel Prize–winning physicist Wilczek, who has himself made notable contributions in this field, offers a survey of everything in the universe from quarks to black holes, elucidating the current scientific thinking on how matter and energy interact. The two main concepts are the Grid and the Core. Wilczek says the grid is a conceptual descendant of ether, that mysterious substance scientists once believed filled empty space. Now some physicists theorize that space is highly structured by the grid, which is the primary ingredient of physical reality and the substance from which all physical matter is formed. Core theory, on the other hand, provides a theory of everything, reconciling gravity with electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Wilczek reports a couple of problems with core theory: it's not very elegant (scientists love elegance in their equations), and it hasn't been reconciled with string theory. This book is not for most general readers, but will be a hit with hard-core science buffs. Photos, illus. (Sept.)
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In this excursion to the outer limits of particle physics, Wilczek explores what quarks and gluons, which compose protons and neutrons, reveal about the manifestation of mass and gravity. A corecipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, Wilczek knows what he’s writing about; the question is, will general science readers? Happily, they know what the strong interaction is (the forces that bind the nucleus), and in Wilczek, they have a jovial guide who adheres to trade publishing’s belief that a successful physics title will not include too many equations. Despite this injunction (against which he lightly protests), Wilczek delivers an approachable verbal picture of what quarks and gluons are doing inside a proton that gives rise to mass and, hence, gravity. Casting the light-speed lives of quarks against “the Grid,” Wilczek’s term for the vacuum that theoretically seethes with quantum activity, Wilczek exudes a contagious excitement for discovery. A near-obligatory acquisition for circulating physics collections. --Gilbert Taylor