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The Perfect Wave: With Neutrinos at the Boundary of Space and Time Hardcover – February 10, 2014
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Entertaining and evocative, Päs has written a breezy, readable account of particle physics, especially neutrino physics, in a lucid, lively narrative. (Sandip Pakvasa, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Takes readers for a wild ride in pursuit of the neutrino--part ghost, part outlaw, part Holy Grail to theoretical physicists…From vast laboratories deep underground to the cutting edge Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory nearing completion in frigid Antarctica, Päs reveals the ‘world of madmen, dreamers, and visionaries’ who pursue the neutrino and its place in theoretical physics.” (Publishers Weekly 2013-11-11)
Päs for his part, places neutrinos within the broader context of contemporary high theory and delves deeper into the science. Physics buffs will relish his explanations, and not just of established ideas such a the seesaw mechanism. Neutrinos, Päs explains, may offer a way to probe the extra dimensions of space postulated by some ‘theories of everything.’ The puny particles’ weirdness, it seems, knows no end. (The Economist 2014-02-01)
The ghostly neutrino--a mutable, almost massless particle that can pass through dense substances--stars in this scientific history. Theoretical physicist Heinrich Päs surfs the decades of dazzling research since Wolfgang Pauli first posited the particle in 1930. Päs revisits key theorists such as Ettore Majorana, and lays out the work of groundbreaking labs from Los Alamos in New Mexico, where Fred Reines and Clyde Cowan first detected neutrinos in the early 1950s, to today’s vast IceCube neutrino observatory in Antarctica. (Nature 2014-01-23)
Some science books are good because they tell you a lot about science. Some are good because they present their examples and argument in very well written prose. A few do both. The Perfect Wave is one of the few…I can highly recommend The Perfect Wave as a pleasant and provocative way to gain insight into the way physicists think, and into the way the universe (probably) works. (John Gribbin Wall Street Journal 2014-04-15)
Written by one of the world’s leading experts in the field…Heinrich Pas’ book guides the reader through some difficult territory, covering the historical and philosophical developments that led to our understanding of the neutrino today. It is a peculiar route that navigates via such topics as the ancient Greek and magic mushrooms. Plus of course the obligatory cat that is simultaneously alive and dead…Though this book is written in simple language, don’t expect an easy read. There are some highly challenging ideas to get your head around--but it is worth making the effort. (Paul Sutherland BBC Sky at Night 2014-09-01)
About the Author
Heinrich Päs is Professor of Theoretical Particle Physics at Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany.
Top customer reviews
overview of current understandings of light theory (wave and particle) and relativity.
First, the introductory chapters are a waste of time. Do we really need to know about his father's Playboy collection? or his experience with magic mushrooms? The author discovered ancient Greek history and makes analogies of quantum mechanics to Plato's and other early Greek philosophies. It's been done much better before.
The philosophic ideas presented seem scattered and tenuously connected and actually disconnected. His explanations for certain phenomena are puzzling at best. For example, take this short passage:
"Among the elementary fermions, only the quarks carry color charge, but in contrast to the photons of electromagnetism the gluons themselves are color charged and interact among themselves, This combined with the number of gluons is the reason for a curious phenomena, namely that the color interactions become stronger with increasing distance."
Huh? How is the second sentence derived from the first? Is that an exercise for the student? There are many examples of this disconnected reasoning throughout. You get the picture and I'd recommend you pass on this book.