The Particle Odyssey: A Journey to the Heart of Matter

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Oxford University Press, UK, Nov 11, 2004 - Science - 248 pages
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During the 20th century, scientists discovered what the Universe is made of; as the 21st century begins, they are preparing experiments to find out how it came to be like this. This great adventure, which will involve a metaphorical journey back in time to within a billionth of a second of the Big Bang, is the latest stage in the quest to understand the nature of the matter that makes our Universe and the forces that govern it. The Particle Odyssey takes the reader on a spectacularly illustrated journey to the heart of matter. In clear, non-technical language the authors describe the key experiments and fundamental discoveries which have led to our current understanding of the origins and nature of the material universe. In this fascinating book, you will find individual 'portraits' of all the major subatomic particles, from the electron to the top quark. The authors describe the history of experimental particle physics: its origins in the discovery of X-rays in 1895; thedissection of the atom by Rutherford and others; the unexpected revelations of the cosmic rays; the explosion of new particles in the 1950s and 60s; the discovery of quarks and the rise of the 'standard model' in the last part of the 20th century. And they also look at the great challenges that face physicists today--where did antimatter go? what is dark matter? can there be a theory of everything?--and the experiments they are devising to explore them. The Particle Odyssey brings togetherand presents with style over 100 of the best images of particle 'events': mysterious, abstract, beautiful pictures of the tracks of subatomic particles as they speed, curve, dance, or explode through cloud and bubble chambers, stacks of photographic emulsion, and the giant multi-element detectors of modern experiments. Here are spiralling electrons, the tell-tale 'vees' of strange particles, matter and antimatter born from raw energy, energetic jets of particles spraying out from the decay points of quarks and gluons. A further 250 pictures, many taken specially for this book, illustrate the laboratories, experiments, and personalities of over a century of particle physics. This superb book is a testament to the work of 'big' science and one of the great detective stories of our age.

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User Review  - fpagan - LibraryThing

The story of particle physics, up-to-date and in a colorful large format. Too much emphasis, for my taste, on the experimental hardware -- accelerators and detectors. Read full review

The particle odyssey: a journey to the heart of the matter

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Incorporating much new material, this revised version of the authors' The Particle Explosion (1987) details the history of particle physics, expounds the "state of the art" as it now stands, and ... Read full review


The World of Particles
Voyage into the Atom
The Structure of the Atom
The Extraterrestrials
The Cosmic Rain
The Challenge of the Big Machines
The Particle Explosion
From Charm to Top
Future Challenges
Particles at Work
Table of Particles

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About the author (2004)

Professor Frank Close, OBE is a particle physicist and broadcaster. He spent several years working at CERN, home to the largest particle accelerator in the world. He is the author of a number of popular science books, including Too Hot to Handle and Lucifer's Legacy (OUP 2000). Michael Marten is Founder and Director of the Science Photo Library, and author of a number of illustrated books, including The New Astronomy (CUP 2000). Dr Christine Sutton is a physicist and broadcaster, based at Oxford University. She is on the board of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and in 2001 was awarded the European Physical Society's first Outreach Award .

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