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The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider [Hardcover]

Don Lincoln
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 4, 2009 0801891442 978-0801891441 1

The highest-energy particle accelerator ever built, the Large Hadron Collider runs under the border between France and Switzerland. It leapt into action on September 10, 2008, amid unprecedented global press coverage and widespread fears that its energy would create tiny black holes that could destroy the earth.

By smashing together particles smaller than atoms, the LHC recreates the conditions hypothesized to have existed just moments after the big bang. Physicists expect it to aid our understanding of how the universe came into being and to show us much about the standard model of particle physics—even possibly proving the existence of the mysterious Higgs boson. In exploring what the collider does and what it might find, Don Lincoln explains what the LHC is likely to teach us about particle physics, including uncovering the nature of dark matter, finding micro black holes and supersymmetric particles, identifying extra dimensions, and revealing the origin of mass in the universe.

Thousands of physicists from around the globe will have access to the LHC, none of whom really knows what outcomes will be produced by the $7.7 billion project. Whatever it reveals, the results arising from the Large Hadron Collider will profoundly alter our understanding of the cosmos and the atom and stimulate amateur and professional scientists for years to come.

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Editorial Reviews


What Lincoln does brilliantly is dispel the popular myth that the LHC was built solely to discover the Higgs boson, or 'God particle'. This is a project with a far wider reach... His fresh analogies and insights make this book very readable.

(Valerie Jamieson New Scientist)

The book is written in a very readable and entertaining style, and I can warmly recommend it to anyone with more than a passing interest in science.

(John L. Hutchison infocus)

A Fermilab scientist conveys the excitement surrounding the LHC.

(Science News)

This small book conveys the excitement and the importance of science's biggest ever experiment.

(The Bookseller)

I deeply enjoyed Lincoln’s very accessible discussions of antimatter and Cerenkov radiation. And the in-depth explanations of what the different calorimeters and solenoids do inside the LHC’s vast underground accelerator are fascinating.

(Sally Adee IEEE Spectrum Magazine)

It is to the author’s credit that he succeeds in explaining all the major ideas at a level that should be comprehensible to a very wide readership, using little or no mathematicallanguage... The style of writing is extremely pleasant, and any reader who has an interest in particle physics, including those without any previous knowledge of the subject, should find this material accessible and interesting.

(Contemporary Physics)

Don Lincoln's book should be in the hands of everyone interested in physics—even if only vaguely. It conveys the excitement particle physicists feel—and everyone else should feel—about the start of the Large Hadron Collider.

(Gabor Domokos, The Johns Hopkins University)

The Quantum Frontier... prepares readers with what they can anticipate when the LHC becomes operational.

(John S. Rigden and Roger H. Stuewer Physics in Perspective)

Should be in every physics library: it offers an exciting assessment of the Large Haldron Collider, which runs between France and Switzerland, and surveys just why its opening is so significant. You needn't be a physicist to appreciate its importance, and the clear explorations in layman's terms imparts excitement. Perfect for any general lending library strong in science.

(Midwest Book Review)

Don Lincoln's playful, energetic style took me from the fundamentals of contemporary physics through to the extremely complex and sophisticated guts of the LHC experiments, touching on everything from the Earth's 'inevitable' destruction by black holes to speculated future physics experiements in a post-LHC era. Cracking it open for the first time, I was worried that a book taking under 200 pages to cover such an ambitious topic would be riddled with sterile facts listed on after the other. But the contrary is what I found.

(Jordan Juras CERN Courier)

[A] practical attitude is typical of The Quantum Frontier... a useful experimental companion to the many theory-oriented books on particle physics.

(Physics World)

Lincoln (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) uses a relaxed style to lead (and draw) the reader slowly into the complex subject matter. The text is supported by many helpful tables and figures that summarize and/or explain their topics well.


About the Author

Don Lincoln is a scientist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He is the author of Understanding the Universe: From Quarks to the Cosmos.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (February 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801891442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801891441
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Don Lincoln holds a Ph.D. in physics from Rice University. He is a senior scientist at Fermilab, the US' premier particle physics laboratory. He splits his research time between data using the Fermilab Tevatron and the Large Hadron Collider, a new accelerator based at CERN in Europe. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame. He has published 500 scientific papers, three popular physics books and an occasional popular science article in magazines such as "Scientific American" and "Analog: Science Fiction and Fact." His scientific accomplishments include participating in the discovery of the top quark and the Higgs boson.

He is first and foremost a researcher. Understanding the fundamental nature of reality is his passion. However he is also an author. He thinks it is his responsibility to share the excitement he feels when he or one of his colleagues discover something entirely new about the universe. Slowly, in fits and starts, with an occasional backslide, our understanding of our universe grows. Our species' long-held goal becomes more likely with each discovery.

Neither of his parents went to college (in fact, one did not graduate high school). However, his mother was especially encouraging that he read and learn. And read he did. As a child, he mostly read science fiction...a genera which he still enjoys, although he has a dwindling amount of time in which to indulge. However as he grew older, he became aware of popular science writing, of George Gamow and Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov and Stephen Jay Gould. And it was they who opened his eyes to the beauty of the natural world. In some respects, his popular science writing is an attempt to pay a long-held debt. He is sure that somewhere out there, there is a child or young adult of modest circumstances who only needs an introduction to science to have a new vista open to them, to show them a new life. He hopes that someday one of his books has that effect.

You can become a fan of Don on his Facebook page:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This is a fascinating book that explains in simple terms what has been learned from high energy physics research, and why it's important and exciting.

Lincoln does a great job of using metaphors, and things that I understand, to describe things I never thought I could comprehend. He writes with an easy, conversational style and sense of humor, so that reading the book feels like a conversation with a very patient friend who wants to help me understand what he does when he goes to work and why he loves it.

The book gives the background to the building of Cern's LHC, the world's largest collider, and anticipates the discoveries that may come from the research done there.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Approachable and solid discussion March 26, 2009
Don Lincoln writes as an expert from the front lines of particle research, but one who cultivates a pleasant style that is the opposite of stuffy -- without becoming cutesy. Writing for the sort of broad audience that might drop in to Fermi Lab with kids in tow, he describes in simple but effective terms what scientists hope to learn from the Large Hadron Collider, how they will know what they are seeing, and how the technology works.

Although informal in approach, Lincoln's chapters stay on topic with minimal excursions into peripheral details. For those who like a more discursive, "humanistic" reading experience, Lincoln supplies an annotated list of recommended books. The strength of the present volume, however, lies in the quantity of up-to-date science that has been distilled into a quick yet probing read. So one doesn't really mind occasional asides that address the reader like a group of Saturday afternoon visitors. (For example, in a discussion of matter/antimatter decay asymmetries the author explains that a molecule of water comprises two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.)

Chapters 1 and 2 provide, first, a summary of what physicists knew about the subatomic realm at the time the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) opened for business and, second, what they hoped to learn from experiments with the LHC. Naturally, the Higgs boson is part of this discussion, as are supersymmetry and dark matter. While many fine volumes are entirely devoted to such theoretical topics, Lincoln's briefer overview is by no means superficial. This is as good a place as any to point out that the business model for the present university press publication allowed for quite a few charts and illustrations of a quality not often seen in popular science books.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for the Basics April 10, 2009
This book is a very good intro to the basics of the LHC, but then changes gears in the middle of chapter 4. Here he tells you that the book is going to go into more details so general readers should just skip to the next chapter. It read to me like he had written the last half of the 4th chapter first, then was told to dumb it down for real people and just wrote around it. He really should have gone back and put some more time into that part.
Still, it has lots of interesting stuff throughout. It begins by telling us why it is safe and what we already know about the standard model. Stuff like quarks and neutrinos and the strong force. Then it explains the stuff the LHC will look for like the Higgs Boson, Supersymmetry and even possible what makes up quarks. Then it gets more interesting talking about how the LHC will create beams of particles, and how it will detect the aftermath of the collisions. I was most entertained by the last chapter's insight into what the future holds for this type of research, including dark matter and the future of large colliders. So although it is rather thin, especially without half of a chapter, I still recommend it if you don't mind getting half a book for full price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Natalie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am not a scientist but am deeply interested in quantum physics. I've purchased quite a few books on the subject but without a science background or vocabulary, I have had difficulty getting through most of them. I've seen shows about the LHC for years but I wanted to know more. I came across this book and admit that I purchased it mainly because I thought the cover was beautiful.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Don Lincoln is a scientist, but he has an ability to speak to the reader in plain English while still explaining some very complex issues. Don Lincoln helped me understand what all those other physics books I'd read were actually talking about! And the book delivers on its promise - it explains in layman's terms what the LHC is, what it does, and why it's important.
If you are interested in quantum physics and/or the LHC, you will enjoy this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interested In The LHC? August 25, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I must admit that I have not entirely finished this book, but based on what i have read, I can recommend this book for those non-physicists who are interested in what all this hoopla about the LHC is about. This book provides an excellent introduction to particle accelerators and the LHC in particular. I had no idea of the vast forces and technological conquest involved. I find the operational details of the largest and most complex machine created by man entirely fascinating. This book is a departure from the books I have read about physics lately in that it is about the main tool of the modern particle physicist and not too deeply involved with the minutia of the particle physics. For instance, I was curious about the proton beam itself. What would it look like? What would happen if it hit something? This book answers some of my naive questions along with a great many more that I didn't even know to ask. This is a good start to understanding the LHC and I can't wait to read the books that come out after they pop a few protons and lead nuclei!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read
Book arrived in brand new condition. This is my second Don Lincoln book. I like his writing style, sense of humor and ease of understanding.
Published 9 months ago by KB
5.0 out of 5 stars slow but steady
Actually it was bought as a gift but I know he enjoys reading it (very slowly). I bought 3 others also so he moves from one book to the other. Some are more technical than others
Published 17 months ago by Susan C. Elbare
4.0 out of 5 stars Inside look at the quantum frontier
This is a largely non-technical treatment of particle physics with emphasis on experimental aspects. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Chemistry One
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quantum Frontier The Large Hadron Collider
This book is well organized and well written. My hope was to understand how the LHC worked and this book accomplished it. FIVE STARS....and it earned it. HDS
Published on April 29, 2010 by H. D. Sosnoff
5.0 out of 5 stars An accelerator here on Earth can perhaps answer mysteries that span...
"The Quantum Frontier" is on the ROROTOKO list of cutting-edge intellectual nonfiction. Don Lincoln's book interview ran here as cover feature on May 13, 2009.
Published on August 14, 2009 by ROROTOKO
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for any general lending library strong in science
THE QUANTUM FRONTIER: THE LARGE HALDRON COLLIDER should be in every physics library: it offers an exciting assessment of the Large Haldron Collider, which runs between France and... Read more
Published on July 11, 2009 by Midwest Book Review
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