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The Particle at the End of the Universe: The Hunt for the Higgs and the Discovery of a New World [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Sean Carroll
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 May 2013

Winner of the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

It was the universe’s most elusive particle, the linchpin for everything scientists dreamed up to explain how physics works. It had to be found. But projects as big as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider don’t happen without incredible risks – and occasional skullduggery. In the definitive account of this landmark event, Caltech physicist and acclaimed science writer Sean Carroll reveals the insights, rivalry, and wonder that fuelled the Higgs discovery, and takes us on a riveting and irresistible ride to the very edge of physics today.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (2 May 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1780742452
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780742458
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"[Carroll's] writing is accessible and peppered with cultural refernces... but don't be fooled Carroll isn't afraid to wade into topics that have befuddled even brand-name physicists."-"Wired"


“In this superb book, Sean Carroll provides a fascinating and lucid look at the most mysterious and important particle in nature, and the experiment that revealed it. Anyone with an interest in physics should read this, and join him in examining the new worlds of physics to which this discovery may lead.”

(Leonard Mlodinow - Author of the international bestseller The Drunkard's Walk)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best explanation so far about the Higgs 4 Jan 2013
By alapper
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Since the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson, I've tried to find books giving a fuller understanding about the Higgs field and this is the best so far. It does emphasise the reality of the field and tries to explain to laymen such as myself some of the concepts of the associated field theories. In this it has limited success - I still felt the need for more intuitive understanding but maybe it is the nature of the quantum theory beast that this is not possible. The author gives a good account of the accelerator story leading up to the construction and operation of the LHC and this, together with the explanations of the theory behind the predictions makes for a very readable and interesting book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have bought a number of books (both traditional and Kindle) on this and similar subjects over the past few years and have a growing understanding and fascination for all things quantum as well as cosmology-related (everything from string theory to multiverses to Higgs and QED etc.). Because I am not blessed with a natural gift for handling complex mathematics I try and get my hands on publications that go about things without too much confusing gobbledegook and this book is an excellent case in point. Sean Carroll has a very enjoyable and original writing style. Where possible he goes about explaining things in a different and interesting way, drawing where possible from his own successful ways of getting to grips with most of this as he presumably leaned it all. The only downside was the section on the history of the colliders which was too long and not all of which was interesting enough to keep my attention. Don't get me wrong, it is important to understand this history and the logic behind the various experiments that were carried out. It was just that it went on too long in places and lost a bit of the momentum that had been gained earlier in the book as a consequence. Once through that however the book returns to being an excellent read. Stage by stage the author explains the Standard Model, in manageable chunks, and even a novice will get to the point where he/she feels they have a grasp of the fundamental particles and fields, those that have mass (fermions) and those that don't (bosons) which make up the universe in which we live. The fact that we need to understand that despite how things may intuitively seem, we actually live in a sea of fields, of which matter/mass is an occasional consequence!! Read more ›
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think I get it, at last! 30 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read A Brief History of Time aged 18, which left me wanting to know so much more. I've read Feynman, Green and Penrose in the mean time, but finally I've found a book which explains some very complex ideas in a clear and readable way. The more advanced ideas are tucked away into three appendices, so as not over complicate the main text. There are also chapters explaining the history and the politics surrounding high energy particle research, which really sets the context. Like all good science books it also left me with a few new questions. An excellent read, I couldn't put it down.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book 31 Dec 2012
Firstly, I am no physicist and in the almost 15 years since I obtained a 'B' in GCSE physics, I have probably read fewer than five science books of any description.

However, like a lot of people I have followed the news from the Large Hadron Collider with great interest since the hype began in earnest some time in 2007 or 2008, without ever really understanding why. Obviously, the search for the Higgs boson, and the subsequent tentative discovery are greatly important, but beyond trotting out the line that 'The Higgs boson gives the universe mass', I would struggle to hold a conversation about it on almost any level.

So it goes without saying that I have read this from a greatly uninformed opinion, and what I have read and understood as briliant explanations of the science behind the 'Higgs' might not necessarily impress a science student quite as much.

The book is a fantastic mix of science, history and biography aimed squarely at the general reader. It works on many levels, as an entry-level introduction to particle physics, as a history of the major developments in 'Higgs' theory (which obviously includes Higgs' own work but is far from exclusively Higgs' theory!), as an explanation of how the Large Hadron Collider works, as a history of how the LHC came to be built, how 'blogs' aid and hinder the scientific process, and many other aspects. Most importantly, it works as a cheerleader for 'big science'.

It'd be impossible to list the many things the book has taught me (not least that the Higgs boson does not give the universe mass!), but it is fair to say there's something interesting on virtually every page. Having read it, the book will be retained as a useful reference if ever I need to look up the definitions of particles etc.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Roy E
I have to say it is by far the best non mathematical text on particle physics that I have read. It really goes to lengths to try to explain the processes and the history in the best possible way. By the way the particle in the title is the Higgs Boson and the book was written after its discovery. This is the first book that really goes into its importance and relevance which I had struggled to find in other sources. Personally I appreciate the extra stories about the LHC, physicists and earlier events.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Pretty heavy going :(
Published 10 days ago by George Redgrave
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book for a novice in particle physics
Full of interesting facts communicated in a way that is easy for uninitiated to understand. The style is in story telling form that makes it difficult for one to put down once you... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Dhruba Sen
4.0 out of 5 stars I like the writing style
I like the writing style. It covers for me a large area of physics of which I knew very little.
Published 27 days ago by John Abel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book if you like this sort of stuff, my Husband does so he is happy.
Published 1 month ago by Mum of four
5.0 out of 5 stars great read!
great, entertaining read with a good balance between scientific facts, history and anecdotes
Published 2 months ago by M. Jacykiewicz
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps not the best Higgs book, but very approachable
The possible discovery of the Higgs boson has prompted a flurry of books – in part because it’s significant (and because the Large Hadron Collider is a sexy bit of kit) and in part... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brian Clegg
3.0 out of 5 stars I am on my third reading but it is still ...
I am on my third reading but it is still difficult to get my head round it. but this is par for the course when it gets down to this level of physics.
Published 2 months ago by sturobins
5.0 out of 5 stars The particle at the end of your mind
Great book, well explained mind blowing theories and explanations on the micro universe, I loved it.
Published 3 months ago by K. H. Tivey
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb account
Engaging, and packed with clearly described information. I now have a much clearer view of, not only the whole Higgs discovery but also, the general concepts of particle physics.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Purchased for a gift
Purchased as a gift, just the right amount of packaging
Published 3 months ago by Brian K. Stacey
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