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Massive: The Hunt for the God Particle Paperback – 3 Feb 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (3 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753522128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753522127
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'Wondering what all the hype over the Higgs boson is about? Look no further ... A hundred anecdotes bring the towering figures of particle physics and their key discoveries to life.'" (New Scientist)

""When the Higgs boson is discovered, it will be front page news, and this is the book that sets the stage. Ian Sample mixes cutting-edge science with behind-the-scenes stories to paint a compelling picture of one of modern science's greatest quests."" (Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here)

"Fine reportage ... makes clear the sheer achievement of the scientists and engineers who have built the LHC, the most complex machine ever made in the service of pure science." (Graham Farmelo, Guardian)

"A compelling work of popular science, full of mind-boggling ideas and a real sense of the excitement of scientific discovery." (PD Smith Guardian)

"This is Nerd-heaven. Finally, Particle Physics gets a proper page-turner. A smart, breathless race through Higgs, his tiny, tiny particle and the big, big search to find it." (Dara O Briain)

Book Description

"This is Nerd-heaven. Finally, Particle Physics gets a proper page-turner. A smart, breathless race through Higgs, his tiny, tiny particle and the big, big search to find it" - Dara O Briain

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Great book on a timely topic that is hard to write for general public. If you are looking for a book to explain what all the fuss is over the "God Particle" this is the one to read. Dr. Sample does a great job of bringing together the history, theory, and experimental aspects of the mass mechanism for everyone to understand. Everyone reads about the LHC and finding the "Higgs Boson" but little is written about the history and how this came to be.

It is a quick read and flows well with antidotes about the people involved that are pulled out through extensive interviews and research. Certainly there will be an updated version of this once the results are confirmed from Fermi or LHC and Nobels are awarded - along with the associated controversies.

Strengths of the book include:
1) Well written and easy to read
2) Quick read
3) Handles tough topic for non-physicist
4) Sets up well for next edition
5) Well researched with great interviews of subjects (Weinberg for example)

While the book is very Peter Higgs' centric in chapters three and four that probably makes sense given the name of the boson and need for the story to focus on someone. The years that Higgs spend after the 1964 papers toiling with an extension and defending the findings were interesting while the other theorists moved on to other work in the USA and Belgium. Higgs was not actually the first to work on this since Guralnik and Hagen were working with Gilbert on the issue well before 1964. But overall the book is a great overview of the theory work that is not often shared.

I am looking forward to how the story ends outside of the book, the USA edition, and the certain versions from Dr. Sample that will follow.

Great book. Great effort.
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Format: Hardcover
The Schleswig-Holstein question was one of the conundrums of nineteenth century
politics. Lord Palmerston once remarked that only three people had ever
understood it - one of whom was dead, and another was in an asylum. He
himself was the third, but he had forgotten what it was. The significance of
the God particle, aka the Higgs boson, could be Schleswig's modern
equivalent. In the 1990s Science Minister William Waldegrave offered a
bottle of champagne to anyone who could explain the Higgs boson's
significance on a side of A4. The winning entry compared its allure to that
felt by Tory MPs for then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Guardian
journalist Ian Sample takes a little longer than a side of A4, but does an
outstanding job of narrating the unfinished search for this elusive particle,
which (if it exists) is many times heavier than a proton and lives for only a
tiny fraction of a second before vanishing. Its short lifetime means that
scientists cannot look directly for it, but must search for longer lasting
entities into which it might decay.

The search is not yet finished. It will probably be at least five years
before accelerators in Switzerland and the USA give us a definite answer, and
there is a definite chance that the Higgs boson does not exist. Stephen
Hawking has bet $100 that it will never be found. A measure of Sample's
success is that his book does not leave the reader with a sense of
anticlimax. This is a whodunit without the indentification of the murderer,
or even the certainty that a murder has been committed - surely a recipe for
frustration.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the story of the search for the Higgs Boson - the tell-tale particle predicted by the theory of the Higgs mechanism which physicists believe is important in explaining why things are heavy.

To tell the story of the search, Ian Sample tells the story of some of the minds behind it, embroidering the tale with colourful anecdotes gleaned from the many interviews he held with those involved. To try to discover the Higgs Boson, the largest and most complex machines known to man have been created and developed and this is also the story of the technological development of, and the political wrangling behind, these particle colliders culminating in the early experiments performed by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

It is an engaging read despite the complex nature of the subject matter.

Sample is an awarding winning science journalist and those that have read his work in the Guardian will recognise the entertaining, easy to read, jovial style. The quest for the Higgs Boson is at the vanguard of current physics research - which is complicated stuff - and Sample does a very credible job of explaining in lay terms why it is important and in doing so of placing the whole of modern physics in context. He does such a good job, in fact, that I not only recommend this book to anyone who has heard about particle physics or the LHC and wants to know more, but suggest that it is required reading for anyone embarking on undergraduate studies in physics for whom it is a great book for the summer vacation.
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