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The cosmic show partially unveiled
on 15 January 2014
Any book attempting to reveal the secrets of the sub-atomic universe, including the mysteries surrounding the Higgs Boson and Dark Matter, should ideally have an author who is both highly qualified in theoretical physics as well as being presently engaged at the centre of particle physics research. The author of this book is both. Gianfranco Bertone is a professor of astro-physics at Amsterdam University where his research involves the relationship between particle physics and cosmology. He gained his PhD at Oxford University and the Astrophysics Institute in Paris and for a while worked at the Fermi Accelerator Laboratory.
Bertone is no dry academic, he writes with a refreshing freedom, in an engaging style which is easily comprehensible to anyone without a scientific background. The main subject of the book is Dark Matter and Bertone introduces the reader to most of the current theories which attempt to explain Dark Matter and also the theories which make predictions for its discovery. The book describes the extremely sensitive experiments which are going on in international laboratories, often located several kilometres below ground, performed by many of the world's leading physicists. Bertone tries to take the theoretical a little further by suggesting that either some of these theories should be discarded and new ones conceived, or the actual discovery of Dark Matter and its implications will bring in a potentially new era, a paradigm shift, in physics and cosmology. Little of this detailed research actually reaches the world's media and so the book takes one behind the scenes of this great `cosmic show'.
Among the subjects investigated and explained in the book and their relationship to the quest for the discovery of Dark Matter are: the Adromeda Galaxy rotation, gravitational lensing, the Standard Model of particle physics, General and Special Theories of Relativity, WIMPS, the tensor-vector-scalar theory, bullet cluster, fermions, bosons, neutralinos, Higgs Boson, supersymmetry, black holes, particle acceleration, the Large Hadron Collider, scintillation signal, Xenon and Argon experiments, ADMX experiment, gamma-ray telescopes, dark matter halos, antimatter, sinusoidal behaviour, the dark sector of physics, and many more. The book describes the investigations into Dark Matter that have taken place in the historical past, those currently being undertaken, and some possibilities awaiting in the future. Exactly what is Dark Matter? What is its nature and what are its characteristics and properties, if any? Bertone poses the many questions physicists are grappling with and attempts to find some answers.
Bertone is not afraid to introduce the reader to concepts derived from philosophy, the arts and literature, and he occasionally quotes from a wide range of source material, from Zen and the the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to James Joyce, from Damascius, the Byzantine philosopher, to Descartes the famous French one, even quoting Bilbo in The Hobbit, Aristotle and Confucius. This enriches the text rather than diluting its underlying serious scientific content, which is the relentless pursuit of understanding Dark Matter.
If the structure of the gross material nature of the mysterious universe interests you, and you want to read an overview of the present state of investigations into its principle missing component... Dark Matter... then you will find this relatively concise book informative, intriguing and rewarding.