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The Perfect Wave

The Perfect Wave [Kindle Edition]

Heinrich Päs
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description


Entertaining and evocative, Pas has written a breezy, readable account of particle physics, especially neutrino physics, in a lucid, lively narrative.--Sandip Pakvasa, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa"

Product Description

Almost weightless and able to pass through the densest materials with ease, neutrinos may offer answers to questions ranging from relativity and quantum mechanics to more radical theories about dark energy and supersymmetry. Heinrich Päs serves as our fluent guide to a particle world that tests the boundaries of space, time, and human knowledge.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3744 KB
  • Print Length: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (25 Feb 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I2WO2B6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #440,336 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Perfect Wave by Heinrich Pas 14 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This a deceptively short book but it provides an excellent and as clear account as possible of a subject that becomes increasingly more difficult for a layman to conceptualise.The author is unafraid of recounting the historical (including ancient Greek) origins of many of the most intractable questions of the nature of the physical world. Also his rapid but lucid accounts of the history of developments of ideas of nuclear structure,quantum mechanics, relativity and string theory are marked by clear, uncluttered descriptions. At some points the lay reader might become confused (for example as in the definition is 'isospin' of a particle) but there is a continuous buildup of all-inclusive concepts of Symmetry and Supersymmetry. This a superb educational book suitable for both general readership as well as a more specialised students. The text is enlivened by anecdotes featuring some Nobel winners as well as enlightened others. However I think Mr Pas's attitude to Professor Higgs of the eponymous boson is somewhat condescending. Altogether it is a valuable addition to the general understanding of what for many people are at times rather inscrutable matters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting for history of the Neutrino and modern particle physics for non-scientists 2 Mar 2014
By Bob Wilmes - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for non-scientists who long ago left college physics behind to understand the background and history of the neutrino, including a bevy of Nobel prize winners in Physics and why their work was important. I loved the practical explanations of esoteric quantum physics and symmetry. Who knew string theory could be so interesting ? The author is a German PhD particle physicist who explains much about the academic and real world examples in "big science" experiments like the Large Hadron Collider. Underlying this helps the novice understand what the implications are for the Grand Unified Theory (GUT). There is a lot of personal history here as well starting with surfing in Hawaii and ending with Van Gogh's Starry Night. This is a perfect 2 cross country flight airplane book accompanied by some great tunes on the iPhone. Loved the book - mega thanks to the author and Harvard for publishing.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science and speculation. 17 April 2014
By Sinohey - Published on
The book is a mix of autobiography, scientific history, physics and speculation. Pas begins with his peripatetic academic journey in theoretical physics from student to faculty, through various temporary assignments in universities around the world. He lands in Hawaii, takes up surfing and sees the waves as a metaphor for the action of neutrinos.

Neutrinos are infinitesimally small particles, estimated to be about one millionth the size of an electron, almost devoid of mass, with no electric charge and travel at speed of light or faster. They are generated from stellar explosions, sunbursts or gamma ray eruptions and are limitlessly abundant in the universe with ability to penetrate through any matter regardless of its density. We are bombarded daily with neutrinos without any apparent effect or damage. Sometimes called “ghost” particles, they are almost impossible to detect yet are an indispensable component of the cosmos.

In this book, Päs unveils the “world of madmen, dreamers, and visionaries” who for the past eight decades have investigated the neutrino and attempted to elucidate its role in theoretical physics.
It began in 1930, when the Austrian, Wolfgang Pauli first proposed the neutrino to explain what happened to the energy lost during beta decay. He was enthusiastically supported by Enrico Fermi. But it was not until 1956 when the Standard Model explained the variations of neutrino behavior, and the more recent BSM (Beyond Standard Model) physics of branes, string theory and neutrino oscillation.

In the first chapters, Pas strongly suggests that psychedelic drugs were a major influence in the development of quantum physics and its progenitors, from the Ancient Greek cult of Eleusis, Plato’s philosophy and Democritus’ atomism to Heisenberg & Weizsacker quantum mechanics, Nietzsche’s perspectives and Hugh Everett’s theory of parallel universe/multiverse. He describes his own experience with magic mushrooms. “Physics is like surfing. Or like an LSD trip.”
The middle chapters deal with hard science and less esoterica; but the end of the book returns to speculative philosophy.

In the preface Pas declares: “Warning up front! The book deals with established scientific insights and with wild speculations…” He was not exaggerating.
Too much weird science and speculation fueled by psychedelic drugs and fantastic ideas, like using neutrinos to time travel, bordered on science fiction. The conclusion that a multiverse is an answer to rationalistic science places this book outside the margins of reality.
Interested readers should also consider “Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe” by Jayawardhana, Ray
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thin reading 15 Feb 2014
By Ekaterina Puffini - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found it thin reading. I had expected a reasonable treatment of the neutrino. What I got was a lot of personal history of the author and his colleagues and a pretty minimal discussion of the neutrino itself. I am half way through it and doubt if I will finish it. It is raining pretty hard out right now and the choice is finish reading this book or clean my oven. The oven awaits.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written, concise presentation. 9 Mar 2014
By H. D. Sosnoff - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very well written summary of the state of Nuetrino study today. It includes a few bonuses: an explanation of how extra dimensions might explain quantum entanglement; and the mechanics of how the weak nuclear force creates isotopes. Some of Pas's speculations are pretty spacy but his explanations of parts of string theory are better than average! Well worth the reading time!
4.0 out of 5 stars Read It to Be Ready for Conversation with Your Kid in College 31 Aug 2014
By James A. Stehr - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was both enlightened and befuddled by this book about subatomic physics and the neutrino. I've had only two semesters of college physics at UC Berkeley in the early '60s plus one or two other books on quantum mechanics. It's a fascinating subject, but, wow - I found myself in the deep end of this intellectual pool way too fast. I have to say that there is so much about quantum mechanics that I see as ultimately problematic for wider acceptance: 1) That you cannot measure both the velocity and location of the particles at the same time due to the disruptive effect on them from the measurement activity. And 2) That "Particles can reside in two different locations at once!" (p21) (Oh, yeah? Far out! Here: smoke this!) Sorry, but count me with Albert Einstein who said, "This is obvious nonsense." (p21) Nevertheless a "perfect wave" of neutrinos may indeed prove to enable far, far better imaging, such as an almost immediate image of a reaction inside a supernova, where light cannot escape with even a fuzzier image until months or years later. And as I understand it, the neutrino may ultimately be our ticket to ride back in time through a wormhole in curved space. Bottom line: I'd say the real value of this book for us civilians is that when our college kid comes home and starts talking about this stuff, we won't suspect him or her of doing what I said earlier.
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