qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Is that a Higgs boson you've got there, or are you just pleased to see me?

Book Review: The Large Hadron Collider - The Extraordinary Story of the Higgs Boson and Other Stuff That Will Blow Your Mind, by Don Lincoln
This was another one from the work book sale. There isn't a shortage of popular science titles, but I thought it would be interesting to read about one of the biggest physics stories of recent years. Lincoln has made an effort to differentiate this book from others in the field by giving priority to the experimental side of the work at CERN, describing all the main detectors in the LHC circuit. In this I think he is successful (including a description of the accident in 2008 that delayed the start of the LHC) and he manages to convey the main principles qualitatively, without mathematics. There's some background on the generally understood state of physics theory, before describing the experimental discovery of the Higgs boson, and also explaining that Higgs wasn't the only theorist to come up with the ideas (nor in fact the first, though Lincoln does credit him with adding the notion that there should be an observable boson, so the particle name is quite justified). The final two chapters are more speculative, describing what may be discovered at the higher energies the LHC is now intended to run at - such as supersymmetry or evidence for extra dimensions. (On the SuSY front, as I understand it, all the evidence so far is quite negative, which disappoints the theorists. However it is surely an opportunity for others to come up with alternative theories with different predictions, just like the absence of an observable aether was for Einstein).
Tags: books, science
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