- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 29, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192804340
- ISBN-13: 978-0192804341
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 4.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 57 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition
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About the Author
Frank Close is a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London. He has published several books, including the bestselling Lucifer's Legacy, and was the winner of the Kelvin Medal of the Institute of Physics.
Top customer reviews
He begins by discussing the nature of matter, atoms, and forces. We then get a feel for the relative size of the constituents of our world from the very small (angstroms and Fermi) to the very large (the universe). We are provided with a good explanation of the electron volt (eV) and what it means when trying to ascertain the nature of the atom and the protons, neutrons, quarks, and electrons that compose it. There is some discussion of cyclotrons and synchrotrons, the effects of relativity on the accelerated particles, and the different types of colliders in use today.
The author spends a chapter discussing the various particle detection methods from the early techniques to the present, such as the cloud chamber, emulsions, bubble chambers, spark chambers, proportional chamber, drift chamber, and silicon strip detectors. We learn also about the neutrino detection methods via the SuperKamiokande experiment and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory - all very interesting stuff. Following this, we get an introduction into the weird world of quarks, such as the charm, strange, bottom, and top quarks, concluding with a short discussion on why the world consists of matter rather than antimatter.
Indeed, the neat overview and classification of elementary particles and their interactions in the standard model is sufficient reason to keep this book close at hand.
As befits a very short introduction, the book devotes only limited space to more speculative ideas such as supersymmetry, and indeed strings are mentioned only once. Even so, a few authoritative pages dealing with unsolved theoretical and conceptual problems as they relate to particle physics would have been helpful.
Close is associated with CERN and an enthusiastic advocate of multi-billion dollar particle accelerators. While these machines are indeed impressive, an outside observer cannot help but wonder whether such a regimented and bureaucratic approach to science has not already reached severely diminishing marginal returns. It will be interesting to look back in a few years' time at whether this heavy investment of taxpayer money has paid the dividends in new knowledge and insight that Close and others like him hope for.
Robert Oerter's book is much better and if you have a thirst for an understanding of this topic you would be much better off with it. (ie. The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model.....)
As with other VSI books, this one feels like it started off a lot longer but got trimmed down, which I appreciated.
It is best coupled with other books on the subject, notably quantum mechanics.