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The Particle at the End of the Universe: The Hunt for the Higgs and the Discovery of a New World Paperback – Illustrated, 2 May 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (2 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • 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 (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By alapper on 4 Jan 2013
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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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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Big Rich on 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roy E on 17 Sep 2013
Format: Paperback
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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By S. Matthews on 31 Dec 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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