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Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-10: 0465019471
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What gives objects mass? Guardian science correspondent Sample explains the current theory behind this tantalizing question, a theory based on a mysterious, fundamental particle called the Higgs boson, which cannot be broken down into smaller particles and imbued matter with mass right after the Big Bang. The theory, developed by Peter Higgs in 1964, was elegant and neatly filled in a hole in the list of elementary particles--but the Higgs boson could only be found with particle accelerators much more powerful than those then in existence. Physicists in Europe and the U.S. dueled to build such an accelerator but have yet to isolate the Higgs boson. Inconsistent funding, some name-calling, wild publicity over the possibility of a superpowerful accelerator turning into a "doomsday machine," expensive lab accidents and acts of sabotage create a roller-coaster of a tale. Sample keeps the physics accessible, but the real pleasure is in the personalities and drama he reveals behind the hunt for one of the most elusive objects in the universe. (Nov.) (c)
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Graham Farmelo, Guardian (London)
“[Peter] Higgs himself has proved almost as elusive as his eponymous particle. Until now. Ian Sample.... persevered long enough to secure an interview with him, and the results are among the highlights of Massive, a lively account of the genesis of both the LHC and its most famous particulate quarry....Sample has interviewed quite a few other leading scientists, too, and proves adept at prising insights from them....We are kept hooked by its fine reportage, which makes clear the sheer achievement of the scientists and engineers who have built the LHC, the most complex machine ever made in the service of pure science. We learn, too, of the many theoretical concepts that will be probed by it.”

Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here
“When the Higgs boson is discovered, it will be front page news, and this is the book that sets the stage.  Ian Sample mixes cutting-edge science with behind-the-scenes stories to paint a compelling picture of one of modern science’s greatest quests.”
“Sample describes the competition and politics behind the experiments that have sought the eponymous boson. . . . He relates amusing anecdotes… [and] spins a good yarn…  To get a sense of the sociology and politics of high-energy physics, Massive is a good place to start.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Lively popular account of late-20th-century physics, physicists and their machines. . . . Quality science journalism.”

Publishers Weekly
“[A] roller-coaster of a tale. Sample keeps the physics accessible, but the real pleasure is in the personalities and drama he reveals behind the hunt for one of the most elusive objects in the universe.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Lively popular account of late-20th-century physics, physicists and their machines. . . . Quality science journalism."
Wall Street Journal
“Ian Sample… shows a keen eye for the personal equation even while narrating large swatches of physics history. . . . Mr. Sample’s exciting, easy-to-read narrative captures the collaboration, and competition, among the theorists who became involved in the search [for the Higgs particle] over the decades.”
Physics World
“The grand narrative in Ian Sample's book sweeps from the earliest speculations on the nature of matter; through the Second World War and the dawn of nuclear weapons; the paranoia of the Cold War (during which science was seen as a source of national security); rival efforts by the US and Europe to lead the world in times of peace; and the eventual emergence of worldwide scientific co-operation. . . .  Massive carries the reader through the epic using individual episodes from the lives of some of the participants.”
New York Journal of Books
Massive is a tale of search and of discovery, of the hunt for a particle of high mass and very short lifespan called the Higgs Boson. . . . Go. Read. Enjoy.”
Jo Marchant, author of Decoding the Heavens
“[Massive] weaves the physics into a compelling human story; it's a science book that reads like a novel… [and] the best discussion I've read of what it will mean if they do finally manage to make the Higgs boson, and what finding it might tell us about the nature of the universe.”
CultureLab, NewScientist.com
“A whirlwind tour of the discoveries that first revealed the subatomic world. . . . Like any good book, the excitement in Massive builds, culminating with the frenzied Higgs hunt at the end of LEP's run and more recently at the Tevatron at Fermilab in the US - both racing against time to bag the revered particle.”
Stephen Curry, Reciprocal Space Blog on nature.com
“[An] entertaining and breathless read: Sample whizzes through the story, tracking the progress from Higgs' first inkling of an idea back in the early sixties right up to the present day, which sees the particle physics community poised on the verge of discovery, waiting to see if the Higgs' boson—the eponymous 'God particle'—will finally flash into existence as the LHC is ramped up to full power.”
Dara O’Briain, New Scientist
“[T]his was my holiday page-turner: a clear and engrossing description of the physics of the Higgs boson (with surrounding weirdness), combined with a breathless account of the leap-frogging race for its discovery.”
The Midwest Book Review
The definition of the Higgs boson and how it gives everything mass, and why it's important, comes alive for readers with little prior science background. Recommended for general-interest and science collections alike!”
The Guardian (UK)
“Sample's story of “how the universe got its mass” is told through the life and science of Higgs.  The result is a compelling work of popular science, full of mind-boggling ideas and a real sense of the excitement of scientific discovery.”
“Science journalist Sample does an excellent job of capturing the history of the subject and the vivid personalities of some of the most famous living physicists. . . . Massive is an excellent nontechnical introduction to the history of modern particle physics right up to the present… Highly recommended.”

Physics Today
“A quick and enticing read…Massive provides an accessible introduction to the physics of this, the LHC era.”


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019471
  • ASIN: B0057D9HSQ
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,886,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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