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Higgs: The invention and discovery of the 'God Particle' Paperback – 6 Jun 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Reprint edition (6 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199679576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199679577
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.8 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,783 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.

You can read all about Jim's books and find related articles, podcasts, videos and reviews at www.jimbaggott.com.

Product Description

Review

A thorough and readable explanation of the lengthy hunt for the Higgs boson and why its discovery last year is so important. (New Scientist)

Higgs 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)

Higgs is an impressive volume, clarifying details, making the concepts that have been in dispute for years finally lucid ... Higgs drills deep under your skin, constantly ferreting out new vistas, easily escaping our eyes. Baggott brings these-and more-together to form a solid concept of the God Particle effort-read it. (San Francisco Book Review)

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 Atomic: The First War of Physics (Icon, 2009), Beyond Measure: Modern Physics, Philosophy and the Meaning of Quantum Theory (OUP, 2003), A Beginner's Guide to Reality (Penguin, 2005), and A Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments (OUP, 2010).

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nickabit on 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 By Mr. Richard J. Salisbury on 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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A. D. Thibeault on 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
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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. There is in this book no mention whatsoever of the man, who started all experimental investigation of one of the fundamental forces of nature, namely the Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted, who in 1820 discovered the connection between electric and magnetic force. Furthermore, Jim Baggott confounds his data about quarks in the lexicon part of the book, and he does not have succes with communicating the fascinating details in the development of the new theories. He wastes valuable paper and ink in telling about failed projects in USA, which should all have been left out. There is no mention of the thirty years between 1900 and 1930, where the fundaments of all modern physics were created. I am convinced that a knowledgeable physicist could have written a book much more worth reading than Jim Baggotts book.
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