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Higgs: The invention and discovery of the 'God Particle' [Hardcover]

Jim Baggott
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 Aug 2012
The hunt for the Higgs particle has involved the biggest, most expensive experiment ever. So exactly what is this particle? Why does it matter so much? What does it tell us about the Universe? Has the discovery announced on 4 July 2012 finished the search? And was finding it really worth all the effort?

The short answer is yes. The Higgs field is proposed as the way in which particles gain mass - a fundamental property of matter. It's the strongest indicator yet that the Standard Model of physics really does reflect the basic building blocks of our Universe. Little wonder the hunt and discovery of this new particle has produced such intense media interest.

Here, Jim Baggott explains the science behind the discovery, looking at how the concept of a Higgs field was invented, how the vast experiment was carried out, and its implications on our understanding of all mass in the Universe.
The book was written over the eighteen months of the CERN Large Hadron Collider experiment, with its final chapter rounded off on the day of the announcement 'that a particle consistent with the standard model Higgs boson has been discovered.'

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (13 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199603499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199603497
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Jim Baggott was born in Southampton, England. After graduating in chemistry and completing a doctorate at Oxford, he worked as a postgraduate research fellow at Oxford and at Stanford University in California.

He returned to England to take up a lectureship in chemistry at the University of Reading. After five years of academic life, he decided on a complete change of career direction and worked in the oil industry for 11 years before setting up his own independent business and training consultancy.

Jim maintains a broad interest in science, philosophy and history, and writes on these subjects in what spare time he can find. He was awarded the Marlow Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1989 in recognition of his contributions to scientific research. He was awarded a Glaxo Science Writer's prize in 1992. He has written numerous popular science articles published in UK newspapers and New Scientist magazine and has contributed to several radio programmes in the UK and America. He made his television debut in an episode of Morgan Freeman's 'Through the Wormhole' science series, which aired on the Science Channel on 17 July 2013.

'Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the 'God Particle' - tells the story of the development of the standard model of particle physics and the role played by the Higgs field in the origin of mass. New Scientist remarked: '... his detailed explanation of how the Higgs mechanism gives particles mass is extremely elegant.' The book was published just five weeks after the announcement of the discovery of something that looks very much like the Higgs boson, at CERN on 4 July 2012. Popular Science said: '... the remarkable trick that Baggott and [the publisher] have pulled off is that the rush doesn't show. This is an excellent book throughout.' Professor Steven Weinberg, who won the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on unifying electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force, provides a foreword.

Jim's most recent book, titled Farewell to Reality: How Fairy-tale Physics Betrays the Search for Scientific Truth, promises to be rather controversial. It provides a timely and much needed antidote to the seemingly endless stream of metaphysics (or fairy-tale physics) that is promoted in the popular literature as science. Fairy-tale physics is a collection of theoretical constructions for which there is as yet no observational or experimental evidence. Such constructions include super-symmetric particles, superstrings, 'hidden' dimensions, the multiverse, the-universe-as-information, the holographic principle and the anthropic cosmological principle. The book was published in the UK by Constable & Robinson in May 2013. It is now available from Pegasus Books in the US.

Product Description

Review

Baggott tells a snappy story about people and ideas. (Times Higher Education Supplement)

helps put Higgs' contribution in context ... It's a book I imagine the reticent Higgs would approve of. (Jessica Griggs, New Scientist)

a tendency towards brevity and clarity make for a handy guide to the long hunt for an elusive quarry. (Nature)

About the Author

Jim Baggott is a freelance science writer. He was a lecturer in chemistry at the University of Reading but left to pursue a business career, where he first worked with Shell International Petroleum Company and then as an independent business consultant and trainer. His many books include

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best explanation of the standard model 18 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Higgs: The invention and discovery of the God Particle. What a beautiful book, it's lucid explanation of things atomical is breathtaking. For such a complex theory to be made available to the general reader in easily digestible pieces is a work of art. A book so well researched and accessible deserves the widest audience. Quite an achievement following so closely the finding of the "mass giver", at CERN earlier this year. I look forward to reading other books by this author.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant blend of history and science 11 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'll never really get to grips with quantum mechanics, but this book gave me a clearer outline than I had before. It sketches out the development of theories of matter over, roughly, the last 100 years. There are plenty of anecdotes and context notes to make this a comfortable read. But having read it, I wanted to read the science bits again, without the human interest. Perhaps I should have used a highlighter, but I hate them. I could have done with more explanation in places. For example, I'm sure it's very difficult to explain why continuous symmetry with respect to time leads to conservation of energy, but devoting just a sentence to it doesn't seem to be seriously trying.
Anyway, I learned quite a lot. Not least, what the Higgs mechanism is, and why the small fraction of mass it explains is so important.
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By Brian Clegg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Whenever someone famous dies or there’s a major royal event you will see a book arrive in the shops with undue haste. It’s hard to imagine it wasn’t thrown together with minimum effort – and with equally minimal quality. So when I saw that Jim Baggott had produced a book on the Higgs boson all of five weeks after the likely detection was announced following several years work by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, it seemed likely that this too was a botched rush job. But the reality is very different.

In one sense it has to be a rushed job – the announcement was made on 4 July 2012 and the book was out by mid-August, featuring said announcement. So that bit of the book could hardly have had much time for careful editing, bearing in mind publishers usually take at least a couple of months from final versions of the text to having a physical book. (Much of the rest of the book was written well in advance.) But the remarkable trick that Baggott and OUP have pulled off is that the rush doesn’t show. This is an excellent book throughout.

The first, but probably not most important way it’s great is that it provides by far the best explanation of what the Higgs field is and how it is thought to work (and what the Higgs boson has to do with anything) I’ve seen – and that by a long margin. However, for me it’s not so much that, as the way it provides a superb introduction to the development of the standard model of particle physics, our current best guess of what everything’s made of. Again, this is the best I’ve ever read and yet it’s here just as a setting for the Higgs business. It is really well done, and the book deserves a wide readership for that alone, not to mention the way it puts the Higgs into context.

Is it perfect? Well, no.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Summary and Review 22 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover
*An executive summary of this book is now available at the website newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com.

Up until very recently, news out of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) regarding the progress of the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) had been slow in coming, and nary a major discovery had been announced. On July 4th, though, all of that changed. As on that day CERN announced the discovery of nothing less than the Higgs boson, the 'God particle'.

The potential discovery of the Higgs boson had been one of the principal reasons why physicists were so excited about the LHC; and therefore, within the scientific community the announcement was cause for a major celebration indeed. For most of the general public, however, while the announcement was certainly intriguing, there were many basic questions yet to be answered: Just what was the Higgs boson, and why had it been labeled the God particle? Why were physicists expecting to find it, and what did the discovery really mean? Adequately answering these questions was more than what journalists were able to do in their compressed news segments and newspaper articles--and, besides this, it was a task that many journalists were not up to regardless.

Jim Baggott's new book 'Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the 'God Particle'' is meant to remedy this situation and provide the necessary context that the general public needs in order to understand the discovery of the Higgs boson and what it all means.

With impressive clarity, Baggott first takes us through the history of the development of the Standard Model of particle physics (which theory the Higgs boson is a part).
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Format:Paperback
I am not an expert but I enjoyed reading this book. I didn't fully understand everything but I learned some very interesting information about physics and particles and there was plenty of interesting historical background information about the discovery of the Higgs boson and some other related facts.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars more chatter than physics
The author switches from one concept to another without actually explaining the physics but with historical narrative. Read more
Published 2 months ago by ADhakal
5.0 out of 5 stars well done
now I know mass if just a conceit of energy fields
all I need to know now is...
what the hell is energy then ?
Published 4 months ago by Mr. G. Hardy
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not exactly elucidating
This book is more of a history of the standard model rather than the higgs inparticular, and thus while some good explanations are provided for beta decays, strong force... Read more
Published 4 months ago by chez198
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a book for general interest reader
Far to complex for general reader. I wanted a book that would explain what the Higgs particle was. I have a Physics degree albeit 50 years ago. Read more
Published 5 months ago by tonym
4.0 out of 5 stars readable
a bit hard going in places but explains everything as physicists currently (don't) understand it. A bit better than the other higgs book currently on offer.
Published 8 months ago by Geoff Snape
5.0 out of 5 stars A well written text that you can read through or just dip into
It is very difficult to address such a complicated matter without confusing the reader. The author gives a text that guides the reader through the back ground to the discovery and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Peter Griffiths
2.0 out of 5 stars Rewiew of Jim Baggotts book ”Higgs"
This is a book of dubios value. The author’s intention is to write about history of fundamental physics, but not even this modest goal does he accomplish. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Arne Nielsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Bought this great book its not for those who no nothing about the higgs ,but if you do then this book is worth the read.
Published 10 months ago by Ms. P. Sinclair
3.0 out of 5 stars Good reading on the history QFT
Intresting, but I think you the book requiers a good knowledge of Quantum Field Theory if you are to understand the idea of "Higgs".
Published 12 months ago by Lars Lundvall
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Very prompt delivery of this product. This product was exactly what it was stated to be. Excellent. I highly recommend the service provided.
Published 16 months ago by Dr David I. South
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