Atom Land: A Guided Tour Through the Strange (and Impossibly Small) World of Particle Physics

Jon Butterworth. Experiment, $19.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61519-373-8
Butterworth (Most Wanted Particle), a CERN alum and professor of physics at University College London, explains everything particle physics from antimatter to Z bosons in this charming trek through a landscape of “the otherwise invisible.” His accessible narrative cleverly relates difficult concepts, such as wave-particle duality or electron spin, in bite-size bits. Readers become explorers on Butterworth’s metaphoric map, where landmasses are particle types, energy increases west to east, and the route followed mirrors that of scientific discovery. The electromagnetic, strong, and weak forces transport readers by car, train, and plane to Atom Land, with its “orderly array of elements”; Isle of Leptons, where electrons berth; Hadron Island, home to protons and neutrons; the Isle of Quarks and its six “flavors”; and Bosonia, a strange land “where the W, the Z, the gluon and the photon are all based.” Butterworth shares tales of “a menagerie of fantastical beasts” from his map’s far east: dark matter, supersymmetry, and sphalerons. Readers will find no equations here, just conversation in plain English about the universe’s fundamental building blocks, the standard model, and what remains unknown. Butterworth expertly handles even the thorniest theories and will satisfy world-weary scientists and amateur physics aficionados alike. Agent: Martin Redfern, Diane Banks Associates. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/2018
Release date: 03/01/2018
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