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Antimatter First Edition Edition
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This compact book is a wonderful source of information on antimatter and offers us a meticulously researched account of the nature, properties and applications of the often overlooked entities in the fantastic antiworld around us. Chemistry World A meticulously researched account of the nature, properties and application of the ...antiworld around us. Dennis Rouvray, Chemistry World ...worth reading for its beautifully concise history of one vital aspect of twentieth-century particle physics Mark Ronan, Times Literary Supplement His prose is clear, the concepts always understandable, his analysis always insightful. Mark Greener, Fortean Times Beautifully written..This book will inspire a sense of awe in even the most seasoned of physics readers. Amanda Gefter, New Scientist This is a must read for fans of science and science fiction alike. Dr John Gribbin, www.bbcfocusmagazine.com
About the Author
Frank Close, OBE, is Professor of Physics at Oxford University and a Fellow of Exeter College. He was formerly vice president of the British Association for Advancement of Science and Head of the Theoretical Physics Division at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling Lucifer's Legacy, and the winner of the Kelvin Medal of the Institute of Physics for his "outstanding contributions to the public understanding of physics."
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As a physics buff, albeit a non-technical one, Close's descriptions and narrative are easy to follow and not overly-detailed. He keeps close to his main points, explaining the nature of antimatter and exposing some of the latest experiments into its properties, without overburdening the reader with dense technical interjections. While I thought I understood antimatter prior to reading this book, Close provided a strong overview that supplements the understanding of most any popular physics reader, myself included.
Close explores many of the theories surrounding the symmetries between normal matter and antimatter, as well as offering some thoughts on why we might see a universe which appears to be largely devoid of antimatter. While a small handful of antimatter particles have been created in labs around the world, as well as a few dozen antihydrogen atoms, the mysterious lack of antimatter in the universe remains one of the questions needing a great deal of further research to explain. Close uses the Tunguska event to explore the possibility that a chunk of antimatter could have caused the currently unexplained explosion in 1908 (Close determines it was not antimatter, but leaves the question open until the latter chapters). The author also debunks most of the antimatter properties and usages found in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, as well as the idea that antimatter is likely to supplement traditional sources of energy found on the planet.
Popular physics readers have good cause to pick up this tightly-focused book, and will almost certainly learn things about antimatter that aren't covered in many sources. A solid, very quick read that can be knocked out in an afternoon, I recommend this book to anyone interested in physics wanting to gain a reasonable understanding of this mysterious and interesting subset of the science.
*The light produced in the sun starts out as a positron, which combines with an electron to produce a gamma ray photon, deep inside the sun. It takes 100,000 years for that photon to reach the surface of the sun and escape, by which time its wavelength has changed to that of visible light, by a process of electron-positron creation followed by their recombination into a photon, over and over again for a thousand centuries.
*The author shows you the trick that Dirac used to get rid of the exponent 2 in his equation to give it nice properties, so that it predicted electron spin and the positron. He needed to find a number with certain properties that no number can have, so he used a 2 by 2 matrix instead! When he moves up to 3-space it becomes a 4 by 4 matrix predicting spin.
*The 1908 meteor that destroyed a large tract of land in Siberia was probably made of antimatter.
*When you have a PET scan you ingest an analog of sugar that emits positrons, which combine with electrons and produce gamma rays. These are detected by the scanner and determine whether your cancer has spread.
The last chapter (9) of the book "debunking" prospects for commercial or military use of anti-matter is fine, I guess, but seemed unnecessary - it did seem to make this otherwise charming book end on a lower plane.
The book is good if you like particle physics and are a layperson. If you want more, I suggest "Lightness of Being" by Wilczek (another physicist). Relatedly, the recent biography of Dirac (the theoretician) is also quite good: "The Strangest Man," by Farmelo.