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Customer Review

on 21 January 2014
This I found to be an excellent introduction to particle physics. The enthusiasm of the author for his subject comes across very strongly and Frank Close, who is a Professor of Physics at Oxford University, is obviously very knowledgeable about particle physics. In what is a short volume (part of the "A Very Short Introduction" series) he covers a lot of ground in a clear manner and without the need for any mathematics. Close was able to explain some concepts to me, a non-physicist, with much better clarity than other authors have achieved. Topics covered include the particles and forces of the Standard Model, anti-matter and the Big Bang. The chapter entitled "How big and small are big and small?" includes some fascinating comparisons which make one appreciate the dimensions, masses and energies of particles.

For my liking, Close devoted too much space, namely a whole chapter, to the different accelerators used to investigate particles, such as cyclotrons and synchrotrons, and explaining the advantages and disadvantages of linear versus circular accelerators. Likewise, the next chapter exclusively covered the detectors used to pick up evidence of particles and particle collisions. This was like a history lesson in the equipment used in particle physics, which to my mind detracted from the main theme of the book. Consequently, I merely skimmed through these two chapters. Of course, this is my personal opinion and other readers may find this sort of information more absorbing than I did.

The final chapter is entitled "Questions for the 21st Century" in which Close speculates on the nature of dark matter, supersymmetry, massive neutrinos, mass (Higgs boson), quark gluon plasmas and the possibility of multi-dimensional universes. As the book was published in 2004, and I have read it nine years later, I'm left wondering what progress there has been in those nine years in these areas, over and above the well-publicised, probable discovery of the Higgs boson.

As well as an index (which is not necessary in the Kindle version I read) the book usefully includes a glossary of terms.
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