Ever Smaller: Nature’s Elementary Particles, From the Atom to the Neutrino And Beyond

Antonio Ereditato, trans. from the Italian by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell. MIT, $34.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-262-04386-1
Ereditato, director of the University of Bern’s Laboratory for High Energy Physics, makes his English language debut with this challenging and fulfilling foray into particle physics. He discusses plenty of esoteric equations, difficult concepts such as the Planck constant and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and a dizzying array of the fundamental particles central to quantum interactions. This last category includes quarks (named from a line in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake), hadrons, neutrinos, and the Higgs boson, or “God particle.” Ereditato cannily dramatizes these hard-to-picture objects with descriptions of the experiments and impressive apparatus that led to their discovery. Of special interest is the Higgs boson’s discovery via the CERN accelerator, “thousands of superconducting magnets installed around a vacuum tube... 100 meters below ground in the beautiful countryside between Lake Leman and the Jura mountains in Switzerland” capable of propelling particles at nearly the speed of light. These more accessible sections, however, don’t alleviate the difficulty of the equations that, by necessity, appear throughout. Curious, committed readers with the fortitude required to plow through difficult mathematical and conceptual discussions will find Ereditato’s work rewarding. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/30/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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