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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The world of the atom, 29 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Particle Physics: A very short introduction, by Frank Close, Oxford, 2004, 158 ff.

The world of the atom
By Howard A. Jones

Professor Frank Close OBE is a particle physicist at Oxford University with several books already to his credit. In the 1990s his book The Cosmic Onion was a popular best-seller and is now in a new edition - needed as more is uncovered about the structure of the atom. This relatively short text in the Oxford Press' VSI Series is a relatively easy read, given the potential complexity of the subject matter.

The author first gives us a quick guide to the most important sub-atomic particles that make up the structure of the atom - now fundamental course material in high school science classes. These first chapters are mainly about protons, neutrons and electrons. There is an interesting figure comparing temperatures with wavelengths of e.m. waves and their energies. Close gives us some idea of how these properties have been determined. Then we move on to the properties of the trios of quarks that make up protons and neutrons and we are introduced first to the neutrino and radioactivity and then to the particles of antimatter. There are whole chapters presenting summaries of both the particle accelerators used to produce various kinds of nuclear reactions and the equipment used as detectors.

Chapter 7 takes us into the four forces of Nature and the subatomic particles - some real, some virtual - that are regarded as carriers of these forces. We read of the familiar-sounding yet, in this context, exotic terms used to describe these particles - strangeness, charm and colour. Finally the author describes current views on the origin of the ninety-two natural elements and challenges remaining for physicists to resolve in this century.

If you are intimidated by things scientific, this book is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you have some grasp of basic science, preferably though not essentially to university entrance standard, this little book is a veritable goldmine of information, lucidly presented.

Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.

Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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