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The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics Paperback – September 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452287863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452287860
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Standard Model of Elementary Particles (the "Standard Model" to those in the know) can explain nearly everything from the workings of the sun to the structure of, say, a garbage can, but it can't explain gravity, which is why physicists still have jobs. Oerter, in this highly accessible volume, explains the Standard Model to the everyman, using literary references and easy-to-follow analogies to make clear mind-bending physics principles. Subatomic particles got you down? Think about a BB gun and a Nerf ball. String theory? Why, it's similar to a guitar, of course. Oerter concedes "the Theory of Almost Everything has major deficiencies," especially in light of the recently discovered dark matter and dark energy, and physicists are closer than ever to discovering the Theory of Everything that will supplant the Standard Model, but this relentlessly informative and digestible primer on just about everything should appease armchair scientists in the meantime.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“This highly accessible volume explains the Standard Model to the everyman, using literary references and easy-to-follow analogies to make clear mind-bending physics principles.” —Publishers Weekly



“Accessible and engaging…This book is for anyone interested in modern physics and ultimate answers about the universe.” —Science News


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Customer Reviews

Here are several things it does better than any other popular book I've read.
Richard Sonnenfeld
It's always helpful to have a background in physics when reading these kinds of books, but I think this book would read well for any curious reader.
nerdyguy1618
It is very well written, and explains (almost) everything in a way that is easy to understand.
Don't Jump More Than Four Chairs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Richard Sonnenfeld on December 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is good for the interested layperson, and even better for a college student who has just had their first year physics or chemistry course and wants to see more about all the hot ideas they've been reading in the newspapers.

I enjoyed this book very much. Here are several things it does better than any other popular book I've read.

It gives you a glimmer of an idea of what "spontaneous symmetry breaking" means, and what it means that all the forces become unified at very high energies. It does it BETTER than other popular works I've seen.

It allows you to understand what the "weak" force is, why it's called that, and what "good" it is. The four fundamental forces are gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force. Physics fans generally learn about the first three, but what the weak force is good for ("Who ordered that?" to paraphrase a certain famous physicist) has long been a puzzlement to me. In book after book, I find a single lame sentence that the weak force is involved in certain types of radioactive decay. How useless!! Oerter actually explains what the weak force is.

Many popular accounts of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) dumb it down to the point where you hear "it is the most accurate theory known to mankind". They never tell you what it is accurate about! Oerter points out that QED allows one to calculate the electron gyromagnetic ratio to 10 decimal places. Gee -- sounds like a good theory!

Finally, Oerter actually at one point writes down the "Grand Unified Equation" (The Lagrangian that includes all 3 fundamental forces -- but not gravity). You may not know what it means, but it sure is nice to see the equation that describes the entire universe. It's got to at least be good for a T-shirt!
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Harold A. Christy on September 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, I'm not sure how fair my review actually is. I've read the book "A Short History of Almost Everything" and LOVED IT; it was very easy to understand and entertaining. I thought the same would be true with "The Theory of Almost Everything," not so. This book is for individuals who already possess a working knowledge of Physics. It is well written and uses some common everyday analogies but the basic fact remains, if you don't understand general Physics; structure of atoms and molecules, the periodic table or special relativity, you are going to have problems comprehending the material presented in this book. The book is well written and I applaud Mr. Robert Oerter for his efforts. I only wish I had the cognitive ability to take advantage of his work. For those of you who do have a basic understanding of Physics, enjoy!
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60 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Wikman VINE VOICE on July 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This review is a little bit long, however, it is more than an assessment of the book, it will also help you prepare for reading the book and explain confusing parts of the book.

Imagine if we had found a two billion year old alien underground civilization under the desert in Arizona several years ago, and you still knew nothing about it, because journalists thought this information was pretty boring stuff and therefore didn't bother telling anyone about it. Well that is most likely not true, but what is true is that the general public has entirely missed the greatest scientific revolution in the history of the human race partially because mainstream media has largely ignored this information, even though the Nobel Prize committee has been raining Nobel Prizes over it.

In the 70's a theory that explained, at the deepest level, nearly all of the phenomena that rule our daily lives came into existence. The theory called "The Standard Model of Elementary Particles" is a set of "Relativistic Quantum Field Theories" that explains how elementary particles behave, which elementary particles there are, and why they have the properties they have, for example, isospin, spin, charge, color charge, flavor, even mass, or mass relations in many cases. The theory explains how all of the fundamental forces in nature work except gravity. The theory describes how the elementary particles interact; decay, how long they are expected to exist, and how they combine into other sub atomic particles. The theory uses only 18 adjustable parameters to accomplish of this.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By nerdyguy1618 on September 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a physicist, but not a particle physicist. I like reading books written for the layperson. I can broaden my knowledge a bit, and for topics I know well I can enjoy reading how someone else explains these topics. It's always helpful to have a background in physics when reading these kinds of books, but I think this book would read well for any curious reader.

It seemed like a fascinating mystery novel to me. Even though I knew what the book was building up to (the Standard Model), I was excited to see how the plot unfolded. The writing is very smooth and comfortable. I had a hard time putting it down. I brought it to the beach with me.

I recommend reading it twice. If you read it carefully the first time and are still confused, then a second read might straighten much of that out. You may find that some topics are still confusing. With this subject, you can't expect miracles!

I'm glad the author mentioned string theory. Some particle physicists are so defensive about the Standard Model that they wouldn't mention string theory. For further study on string theory, read Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.

Overall, a great book! Well written, and fun to read.
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