cover image The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter

The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter

Helen R. Quinn, Yossi Nir. Princeton University Press, $29.95 (278pp) ISBN 978-0-691-13309-6

Using remarkably clear prose and analogies drawn from everyday experience (hunting for rabbits, waves crashing into a sea wall), physicists Quinn and Nir (of the Stanford Linear Accelerator and the Weizman Institute in Israel, respectively) examine both historical and cutting-edge research into particle physics, the study of the most basic components of the universe-including both matter and antimatter, the universal imbalance of which provides one of the discipline's central puzzles (and this book's title). A thorough account, this examination takes readers through the basics (physical constants, the expanding universe, ""What is Matter?"") before breaking out concepts like neutrinos and quarks, rules of energy and symmetry, and dark matter. Quinn, an active participant in the particle physics community since the 1960s, contributes charming personal accounts that present pioneering researchers and their work in endearingly human terms, capturing well the club's excitement over particularly important discoveries. Though it's far from light reading, this book is will prove highly stimulating and illuminating for anyone who ever wondered, ""Just what is dark matter anyway?"" without realizing that even physicists don't know yet. A time line of particle physics discoveries is usefully appended, but a bibliography is missed.