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The subatomic particles of matter and antimatter,
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This review is from: Antimatter (Paperback)
Antimatter by Frank Close, Oxford University Press, 2009, 176 ff.
The subatomic particles of matter and antimatter
By Howard Jones
This is another book in the easy-to-read style of Frank Close, Emeritus Fellow in Physics at the University of Oxford . The subject matter is rather more specialised than in his popular science books `The Cosmic Onion' and `Particle Physics', but antimatter is now a part of undergraduate physics courses and is such stuff as sci-fi stories are made of. This book is therefore likely to be of interest to quite a wide readership, despite its specialist subject matter. Non-mathematicians will be relieved to know that the underlying matrix mathematics is confined to a short Appendix.
The existence of antimatter was predicted by engineer-turned-physicist Paul Dirac in 1928. It emerged from the combination of quantum mechanics with Einstein's relativity and introduced the concept of states of negative energy. These are unknown in our real world but in the antimatter world, negatives become positives, and vice versa, and the particle property called spin becomes reversed.
When matter and antimatter collide, they are both annihilated to produce a huge amount of energy, usually in the gamma ray part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This, and the historical background to the development of antimatter particles, is all described simply and beautifully by Close: I'm sure, even if I weren't a physicist and mathematician with an intrinsic interest in this subject, I would find it elegantly explained. Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Erwin Schrödinger for their respective discoveries in quantum physics. The discovery and exploration of these antimatter particles by teams of competing scientists reads (in Close's treatment) like a `Boys Own' adventure story.
This is the most lucid presentation I have read of a tiny corner of particle physics and quantum theory and if you want to know where Dirac's version of quantum theory has led us, I know of no better explanation than in this book.
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, U.K.; and The World as Spirit published by Fairhill Publishing, Whitland, West Wales, 2011.
The New Cosmic Onion: Quarks and the Nature of the Universe