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Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space [Paperback]

Lisa Randall
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Price: £4.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

9 Aug 2012

On July 4th, 2012, one of physics' most exhilarating results was announced: a new particle – and very likely a new kind of particle – had been discovered at the Large Hadron Collider, the huge particle accelerator designed to reproduce energies present in the universe a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. The particle's existence had been speculated on for nearly fifty years: here, finally, was proof.

Professor Lisa Randall of Harvard University is one of the world's most influential theoretical physicists, and author of the bestselling Knocking on Heaven's Door and Warped Passages. In Higgs Discovery she deftly explains both this epochal discovery and it's startlingly beautiful implications.


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Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space + Knocking On Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate our Universe + A Universe from Nothing
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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Bodley Head (9 Aug 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1847922570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847922571
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A lucid, deft and engaging summation of dogged determination and “heroic engineering”" (Nature)

Book Description

What is the Higgs boson? And where will its discovery lead? Renowned physicist Lisa Randall explains this landmark event in modern science and its startlingly beautiful implications.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A patchwork of random information 1 Nov 2013
By andrea
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As other reviewers mentioned, this micro-booklet seems to be a collection of what could be news headlines, blog posts and some personal thoughts around the subject. My expectation was to get an introduction to the subject which could be light but logical/structured, as a starting point for further reading. For example, from the very first pages the author delves into how to find hints of the boson by the way it decays, and then here and there mentions that this thing we are looking for gives mass to particles. In my view this is an upside down exposition for which in my university days I would have been failed at Physics I. Maybe it's me being stuck in needing to first know the Why, and only then be ready to dig into the How.
I would have given 0 stars to be fair if it wasn't for the one bit of information I got out of it, which is that Peter Higgs attended the same school as Paul Dirac in Bristol, which happens to be a city very dear to me.
The only way these printed pages can be defined is a wrapper to advertise her other books, which of course I am now not that keen to spend my money on. Not worth half its price.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading from the get-go! 28 Sep 2012
By Reculet
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lisa Randall is a theoretical physicist, specialising in particle physics and cosmology, from the university of Harvard USA. Her earlier books Knocking On Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World and Warped Passages: Unravelling the Universe's Hidden Dimensions (Penguin Press Science) are top quality popular science writing with well deserved high ratings on Amazon.

For me this latest book is a bit of a disappointment. The writing is still well informed, as one would expect, but gives the distinct impression of being thrown together in a rush - a rapid response to the unexpectedly early announcement of the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the CERN LHC.

A substantial later part of the book, which explains the significance of the Higgs boson and Higgs field, to put into retrospective context the earlier pages describing her reaction to events at CERN, is simply copied from her other books. To be fair, she points this out at the beginning.

Her account of first hearing the news while on holiday in Greece is amusing and, like most of the book, her conversational style makes easy reading. I particularly like her clear explanation that, since the Higgs field generates particle masses, the strength of the coupling of the Higgs Boson to those particles must be bigger when they are more massive, and that this has consequences for both the creation (by the LHC) and decay (to be detected by experiment) of the Higgs Boson.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Happiness is Higgs shaped 5 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Disappointing is my verdict on this book. I selected it on the basis of a review in a learned journal that is obviously above my intellectual comfort level. I had expected a short resume of the position of the Higgs in the particle physics firmament and some sort of timescale on its discovery. I may have read those things but if so, it was not that clear.
What I did learn was that the `Higgs' is actually three entities all carrying that name: the Mechanism, the Field and the Particle. It was emphasised how the `discovery' is not such a precise moment. The experiments at CERN continued for a some time with the results analysed in minute detail until a recognisable pattern emerged from the mass of data. When this discontinuity was sufficiently prominent and its characteristics closely aligned with theoretical expectations, the scientists allowed themselves to go public and announce their discovery.
Dr Randall is clearly an enthusiast. She bubbles over with joy about the Higgs discovery and I'm a little sad that I was unable to share her fun. The problem lay in my inadequacy in particle physics. She provided a chapter on how the Higgs is recognised by its decay characteristics. Some of these seemed contradictory. Perhaps they are. After all particle physics is full of enigmas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Roger
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's difficult to know who this book by Lisa Randall is aimed at. I would think its target audience is people who are scientifically literate but are not physicists, least of all particle physicists. After all, if it was directed at physicists it would be far more mathematical. Regrettably, if the intended audience really is scientifically literate. non-physicists, then I feel it misses the mark by a mile. I doubt that anyone who was not a physicist would understand much of this book. I had already read and enjoyed, despite the tough going, Sean Carroll's account of the Higgs boson ("The Particle at the End of the Universe") but even with this background I could barely make head or tail of much of the content of Randall's book.

The book shows every sign of being put together in a hurry, maybe so as to publish something ahead of the competition. This is evident from the inclusion of a chapter from another of Randall's books ("Knocking on Heaven's Door"), this added chapter accounting for approaching 40% of the total book. This tactic results in a disjointed story to the extent that ideally the borrowed chapter, essential to the understanding of the whole, needs to be read before the new text. It might have been better if the author had integrated the new with the old.

I also felt that Randall doesn't do a thorough job of explaining what's meant by symmetry in the context of particle physics. This is crucial to understanding the Higgs mechanism but she seems to assume that readers are already fairly familiar with this concept.

However, in her defence, I accept that explaining the Higgs mechanism to non-physicists, such as me, is extremely challenging - and perhaps nigh on impossible!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent -need more books like this to explain New scientific theories
Published 28 days ago by Michael Duerden
2.0 out of 5 stars Lack of content
More like a series of Sun headlines than a serious book. Although it was inexpensive, it is still arguably overpriced.
Published 12 months ago by Gaston Guinness
5.0 out of 5 stars Higgs explained for the public majority
Quite well written an informative. It explains what the discoveries at CERN mean, their implications and what new fields of research are opened.
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars rip off
I can't believe the author had the audacity to produce this flimsy pamphlet almost smaller than all those bosons or whatever absolute rip off
Published 17 months ago by zargos
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear I wish I hadn't bothered
Far too brief, No interesting diagrams. How on Earth do you have the audacity to produce such a dull, uninteresting piece of work with little pedological value
Published 18 months ago by MR BRIAN WARDLE
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
simply written yet not trvial, good background information on this complex and momentus subject - highly recommend this book fro any physics nerd
Published 18 months ago by Mark Luty
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting.
Would recommend,I bought as a gift and person who received it would recommend over and over.Very difficult to find 18 words.
Published 19 months ago by swansong
5.0 out of 5 stars Neat and concise
This book can only enhance Prof Randall's reputation as a brilliant teacher. It explains exactly what the higgs boson is
Published 19 months ago by Roffed
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Not for the faint hearted, but excellent for those of us with an interest. Describes what has been achieved, what it means and the direction for further exploration.
Published 21 months ago by GreyFod
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, readable, just what I needed to make sense of the event.
When will literature like this be translated into anything which the pulp boys can give the millions of waiting curious people an even clearer view of the discovery and its'... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Mr. Trevor Mumby
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