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Neutrino [Hardcover]

Frank Close
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.45
Price: 10.81 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

14 Oct 2010
What are neutrinos? Why does nature need them? What use are they?

Neutrinos are perhaps the most enigmatic particles in the universe. Formed in certain radioactive decays, they pass through most matter with ease. These tiny, ghostly particles are formed in millions in the Sun and pass through us constantly. For a long time they were thought to be massless, and passing as they do like ghosts they were not regarded as significant. Now we know they have a very small mass, and there are strong indications that they are very important indeed. It is speculated that a heavy form of neutrino, that is both matter and antimatter, may have shaped the balance of matter and antimatter in the early universe.

Here, Frank Close gives an account of the discovery of neutrinos and our growing understanding of their significance, also touching on some speculative ideas concerning the possible uses of neutrinos and their role in the early universe.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (14 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199574596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199574599
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 21 x 9.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


A fine piece of scientific popularisation from one of the best scientic communicators around. (Literary Review)

Close tells this story with verve and precision... admirably clear and eminently accessible. (Wall Street Journal)

As an award-winning writer, Close tells this detective story with great style. (Robert Matthews, BBC Focus)

About the Author

Frank Close, OBE, is Professor of Physics at Oxford University and a Fellow of Exeter College. He was formerly vice president of the British Association for Advancement of Science, Head of the Theoretical Physics Division at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and Head of Communications and Public Education at CERN. He is the author of several books, including The Void (OUP, 2007) and the best-selling Lucifer's Legacy (OUP, 2000). He was the winner of the Kelvin Medal of the Institute of Physics for his "outstanding contributions to the public understanding of physics."

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neutrinos Galore 14 Mar 2011
Perhaps the most beautifully written as well as highly informative book on the particle that pervades every square of our Universe. Frank Close interweaves the chronological discovery and subsequent chase for the Neutrino, in a way that unfolds as a story whilst at the same time informing us all about this elusive particle. A real page turner, and exciting stuff.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and informative 22 Dec 2010
I first became aware of Neutrinos in 1969 thanks to the BBC TV program 'Violent Universe' and the book of the same title by Nigel Calder. I have been intrigued by this enigmatic atomic particle ever since and even named my Laser racing dinghy 'Neutrino' in 1970, although my speed through the water was slightly slower than that of the light speed of the actual particle! As soon as I saw this book by Frank Close a couple of weeks ago I had to buy it and was not disappointed.
As an interested layman with a scientific background the book is at exactly the right level for me. There is some fascinating historical details with some famous particle physicists involved including Pauli, Rutherford and Fermi. But the book is more about John Bahcall, Ray Davies and Bruno Pontecorvo - names which I suspect very few people not directly involved in Neutrino science and the study of the nuclear reactions in the sun will have heard of. This is a serious book written in a very readable way, but there are some lighthearted moments. Like when Bahcall, after hearing news that his calculations had been proved correct after 30 years says 'I feel like dancing, I'm so happy'. Then there are the first two sentences of Chapter 10 'Where were you at 07.30 GMT on 23 February 1987? I was having breakfast when, unknown to me, a burst of neutrinos passed through my cornflakes'. Great stuff!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is anything undetectable any more? 1 May 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Neutrino" exemplifies perfectly the way in which science is supposed to work: induction leads to hypothesis from which predictions may be made which are testable by experiment, leading in turn to provisional acceptance, modification or abandonment. And, as usual when things turn out well, there is some unforeseen development through which we end up knowing far more than was ever envisaged.

An essentially undetectable, massless, charge-less particle, conceived of as emerging from an obscure laboratory experiment in the days when only two other fundamental particles were known, turns out to be the most numerous inhabitant of the universe and to throw light upon processes at the heart of stars and supernovae. Invented as a means of getting some energy and momentum off the balance sheet - to avoid breach of conservation laws - the neutrino is now itself suspected of infringing another conservation law, that of lepton number, and of being an accessory in parity violation.

This is an excellent long short-story in which the neutrino is not so much hero as crafty villain, a master of disguise whose character is still not entirely clear even after 70 years of investigation. The action is remarkably gripping, for all the painstaking and dogged pace of neutrino research. The scientific heros, their achievements and rewards are brought vividly to life, despite their choice of what was considered a non-charismatic field.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of the almost invisible particle 11 July 2011
By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Neutrino by Frank Close, Oxford, 2010, 192 ff.
The story of the almost invisible particle
By Howard Jones

`All in all, there are more neutrinos [in the universe] than any other particle' (p.2): it sounds as though we ought to know a bit more about them. This is another in a series of books on quantum physics written by Frank Close, Emeritus Fellow in Physics at the University of Oxford . Close has spent his research career investigating and teaching the physics of subatomic particles and his writing is to be commended for its accessibility by the non-specialist, so we would be hard pressed to find a better authority on the subject of neutrinos.

The details here however are a bit more specialised than in Close's earlier books. The history of the discovery of neutrinos is as fascinating as that for antimatter, the subject of an earlier short monograph by Close. It shows the importance of chance or fate in being at the right place at the right time, but also the need for a prepared mind - a mind that is alert and open to new discoveries. But the background to the discovery of the neutrino needed an understanding of the nature of other subatomic particles first, as explained here by Close, so had to wait until the discovery of the neutron.

The developmental work on neutrinos involved a study of the nature of the sun's energy source, and even of the age of the Earth in finding theoretical evidence to back up the geological and evolutionary data suggesting an age of many millions rather than just thousands of years. The story of the role of one of the main players, Bruno Pontecorvo, is itself quite fascinating, especially to those of us who remember him as an Italian immigrant to Britain who defected to the Soviet Union around 1950.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Close does a great job of elucidating the quest for the neutrino in this book - having read his previous 'Antimatter', which was a lot less than elucidating, and thus having low... Read more
Published 1 month ago by chez198
3.0 out of 5 stars Could be better
I bought this at the same time as Antimatter. This is the better book, but still not great. You can probably get much of the info of wikipedia in a much shorter time.
Published 2 months ago by Captain Sensible
5.0 out of 5 stars Awe-inspiring example of scientific pursuit
So true that we should promote scientists and educators as the real value in this world. Why would someone devote their life to look for a ghostly particle that first lived in an... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Hud
4.0 out of 5 stars Sun, science and serendipity
So densely packed is the information in this little book the author is to be commended for creating the literary equivalent of a neutron star. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr. Timothy W. Dumble
4.0 out of 5 stars Quest
Frank Close wrote a tribute to the scientists and institutions that made an one century quest through Radioactivity, the Sun and Particle Physics in order to reveal the nature of... Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Fernandes
5.0 out of 5 stars Good story telling of real scientific discovery
I have taught Particle Physics to A Level students and this was an excellent account of the whole story. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Rhinosfan
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Call me sad but when i had finished te book, i immediately wanted to read it again - fascinating !! easy enough read due to authors descriptions. Read more
Published 14 months ago by simon
5.0 out of 5 stars Neutrino
Know a lot more about what could be considered a dry topic of neutrinos.
Covers the history and people who were involved in trying to detect one of the the most illusive of... Read more
Published 15 months ago by PSW
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Clear
The book is really clear and easy to understand and tells very well both the history and physics of neutrinos.
Published 16 months ago by J
5.0 out of 5 stars I think at last I might understand some of this
Frank Close really gives enthusiasts such as myself a marvelous insight into the dark box that is this subject. Read more
Published 17 months ago by S. Bartlett
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