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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable insight into the life, work and politics of Theoretical Physicists, 27 Jan. 2012
This review is from: The Infinity Puzzle: How the quest to understand quantum field theory led to extraordinary science, high politics, and the world's most expensive experiment (Hardcover)
Frank Close has a clear engaging writing style such that this book at times takes the characteristics of a good page-turner novel. Only here the characters are real people. The author has gone to great lengths in his attempt to write an accurate history of the people and events that have led to the current search for the Higgs Particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. He is open and honest in stating that he may not have got everything right. However he has clearly gone to great lengths to resolve conflicting accounts even at one stage reporting a delayed flight in part of the narrative! A number of Nobel Prize Winners are described in these pages, warts and all, together with a number of oustanding Physicists that never received the ultimate accolade. One conclusion that could be drawn is that many Theoretical Physicists are filled with arrogance and self-importance such that they have little regard to those they trample on in their quest for the prize. The non-specialist will probably be glad to learn that this book does not delve into the complex mathematics that under-pins Particle Physics. Nevertheless there is no escaping many complex ideas that will take time and very possibly internet searches to gain some understanding of what is at stake. Is it worth the time and trouble? This reader thinks it is. A large group of international Scientists are spending many billions of tax-payers hard earned cash and the tax-payer has a right to know that these funds are not being wasted as has occured with many government projects(e.g. in the UK, The National Programme for IT). Will the LHC deliver value for money? In this reader's view the answer is a definate maybe. It is not possible to predict the potential technical spin-offs that could transform the way we live and work. Two small criticisms: I would have liked to see included a comprehensive glossary together with a good quality schematic summarising the current state of knowledge in Particle Physics. However with 338 pages of text supported by 49 pages of notes covering all chapters perhaps it is unreasonable to ask for more. I have rated this book five star for the non-specialist but be prepared to be challenged with some of the detail.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jan 2012 18:20:22 GMT
Nice review, however it would be helpful if you separated out your text into paragraphs.

Posted on 31 Jul 2012 22:03:16 BDT
Well anything they do at CERN will be value for money when you look at the trillions that their invention of the world wide web has added to the world's GDP. Before Berners-Lee the internet was a character-based nerd thing, with e -commerce unworkable for SMEs.

Posted on 24 Aug 2012 23:15:58 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2012 23:17:32 BDT
Jim Good says:
Just to say, you do realise that the entire cost of the LHC is just a rounding error on the amount of money wasted by governments like the UK's, don't you? The UK could pay back the whole cost of the collider, and then completely fund its operation and maintenance for the next couple of decades, with just two weeks, a fortnight, of its government borrowing. High-energy physics is not expensive at all; it's practically zero-cost.
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