A Palette of Particles

A Palette of Particles

eBook - 2013
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Harvard University Press

From molecules to stars, much of the cosmic canvas can be painted in brushstrokes of primary color: the protons, neutrons, and electrons we know so well. But for meticulous detail, we have to dip into exotic hues—leptons, mesons, hadrons, quarks. Bringing particle physics to life as few authors can, Jeremy Bernstein here unveils nature in all its subatomic splendor.

In this graceful account, Bernstein guides us through high-energy physics from the early twentieth century to the present, including such highlights as the newly discovered Higgs boson. Beginning with Ernest Rutherford’s 1911 explanation of the nucleus, a model of atomic structure emerged that sufficed until the 1930s, when new particles began to be theorized and experimentally confirmed. In the postwar period, the subatomic world exploded in a blaze of unexpected findings leading to the theory of the quark, in all its strange and charmed variations. An eyewitness to developments at Harvard University and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Bernstein laces his story with piquant anecdotes of such luminaries as Wolfgang Pauli, Murray Gell-Mann, and Sheldon Glashow.

Surveying the dizzying landscape of contemporary physics, Bernstein remains optimistic about our ability to comprehend the secrets of the cosmos—even as its mysteries deepen. We now know that over eighty percent of the universe consists of matter we have never identified or detected. A Palette of Particles draws readers into the excitement of a field where the more we discover, the less we seem to know.


Jeremy Bernstein guides readers through high-energy physics from early twentieth-century atomic models to leptons, mesons, quarks, and the newly discovered Higgs boson, drawing them into the excitement of a universe where 80 percent of all matter has never been identified. From molecules to galaxies, the more we discover, the less we seem to know.

Baker & Taylor
A guide to high-energy physics from the early twentieth century to the present, including such highlights as Ernest Rutherford's 1911 explanation of the nucleus, the newly discovered Higgs boson, and anecdotes about famous physicists.

Book News
Jeremy Bernstein, an experienced particle physicist with a half-century of experience, presents a survey of the fundamental particles of the universe. He gives historically grounded accounts of how they were discovered, what they are as far as we can tell, and their meaning for the on-going study of how matter works. His explanations are fairly accessible to non-specialists, but occasionally make use of technical figures and notations to illustrate. The book is organized into three sections that he titles with a painter's metaphor. There are the "primary colors," or those particles we don't need advanced technology to detect: electrons, protons, neutrons, and even neutrinos. Then there are "secondary colors," or the stranger sub-atomic particles that started to appear in scientists' heads and as unexpected by-products of experiments around WWII: pions, muons, antiparticles, quarks, positrons and other strange particles. Finally he turns to "pastels," or the most exotic particles scientists think exist that take us well beyond the pale of ordinary experience: higgs bosons, squarks, tachyons, gravitons, and more. Belknap Press is an imprint of Harvard U. Press. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013
ISBN: 9780674073623
0674073622
0674072510
9780674072510
Characteristics: 1 online resource (vi, 212 pages) : illustrations

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