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The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe [Audiobook] [Englisch] [Audio CD]

Frank Close , Jonathan Cowley
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26. März 2012
We are living in a Golden Age of physics. With the mind of a scientist and the skill of a journalist, bestselling author and renowned physicist Frank Close gives us an insider's look at one of the most inspiring - and challenging - scientific breakthroughs of our time: the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

About 40 years ago, 3 brilliant, yet little-known scientists made breakthroughs that later inspired the construction of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva: a 27-kilometre-long machine which has already cost $10 billion, taken 20 years to build and now promises to reveal how the universe itself came to be. The Infinity Puzzle is the inside story of those 40 years of research, breakthrough and endeavour. The work of Peter Higgs, Gerard 't Hooft and James Bjorken is explored here, played out across the decades against a backdrop of high politics, low behaviour and billion-dollar budgets. In The Infinity Puzzle, eminent physicist and award-winning author Frank Close writes from within the action and draws upon his close friendships with those involved.
-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

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  • Audio CD
  • Verlag: Tantor Media Inc; Auflage: , CD. (26. März 2012)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 1452607087
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452607085
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,5 x 14 x 2,8 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.116.361 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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Praise for The Infinity Puzzle:
“It is a pleasure to read a book on recent advances in our understanding of the structure of matter by an author who not only understands the subject but also takes care to investigate conflicting accounts of how these advances came about.”
—Peter Higgs, Emeritus Professor of Physics, The University of Edinburgh
“As someone who can deftly explain abstruse quantum field theory to a lay reader, Frank Close is a rarity among physicists. Rarer still, he knows how to weave a compelling tale—that of the ‘infinity problem,’ which has bedeviled the field of quantum electrodynamics and subsequent attempts to unify the forces of nature. The result is a great scientific whodunit, replete with a large, engaging cast of characters, behind-the-scenes maneuvering, and unexpected twists and turns. Here is proof that Close belongs among the very first rank of scientist-authors. I strongly recommend The Infinity Puzzle.”
—Steve Nadis, co-author of The Shape of Inner Space
“The development of quantum field theory is among the very greatest achievements of humankind, on par with those of Einstein, Newton and Darwin. Frank Close introduces these difficult ideas with a rare clarity and simplicity.  Anyone who wants to understand why we built the LHC and what we hope to learn from it should read this book.”
—Dan Hooper, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and University of Chicago; author of Dark Cosmos and Nature’s Blueprint

Praise for Frank Close and Neutrino:

"A fine piece of scientific popularisation from one of the best scientific communicators around."
—Literary Review

"Close is a lucid, reliable and enthusiastic guide to the strange and wonderful microcosmic world that dwells deep within reality."
Frank Wilczek, Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, MIT, 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

FRANK CLOSE is professor of theoretical physics at Oxford University, dean of Graduate Studies and fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He has been fellow of the Institute of Physics since 1991, and was awarded the Institute's Kelvin Medal for his contributions to the Public Understanding of Physics. He was formerly the head of the Theoretical Physics Division at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and head of communications and public education at CERN. He is the author of several books, including the bestselling Lucifer's Legacy. His other books include Antimatter, Neutrino, The Cosmic Onion, Apocalypse When?, Too Hot to Handle and The Particle Odyssey. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Historical Account of the Electroweak Theory 9. April 2012
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Since its completion in 2008, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN has been the focus of a lot of news coverage. It is by far the largest scientific project in history, and very likely the last such project for the foreseeable future. And yet, it has been fairly difficult to explain to the general public the exact purpose of LHC and what sorts of questions are the scientists trying to answer by culling over its experimental results. One of the things that LHC is trying to find is the putative 'Higgs boson,' whose existence has been postulated for almost half a century, and without which much of our understanding of particle physics would be incomplete. However, the reasons for the need of the Higgs boson are very hard to express in the layman's terms. It is the particle that gives all the other particles mass, and without it (or something like it) it would be impossible to justify many of the theoretical results that have proven so incredibly insightful over the past few decades. Some popularizes of science have even resorted to calling it 'the God particle,' which in my opinion is one of the most unfortunate and gratuitously obscure 'descriptions' of any phenomenon in all of science.

In 'The Infinity Puzzle' Frank Close delves deep into the theoretical background that has lead to the postulation of the Higgs Boson. Higgs Boson turns out to be an indispensible ingredient for the theoretical formulation of the electroweak theory ' the unified theory of electromagnetic and weak interactions. The modern formulation of that theory, the so-called Glashow-Weinberg-Salam model, has come at the end of a long series of abortive attempts at unification, and has been followed by even a longer succession of theoretical and experimental verifications.
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136 von 139 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The hunting of the infinities 20. November 2011
Von A. Jogalekar - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
The theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED) which describes the interaction of light and matter is the most accurate theory in all of science, providing almost unbelievably accurate agreement with experiment. Yet in the middle of the twentieth century the theory was in a deep crisis. Calculations of even the simplest of events in the subatomic world, like the absorption and emission of a photon by an electron, seemed to give nonsensical infinite results that flew in the face of finite values from experiment. These infinities dotted the landscape of physics like ugly tumors, leading some to believe that physics was fundamentally on the wrong track. But hope was at hand. It took a whole post-war breed of brilliant young scientists to invent an ingenious set of tricks collectively called "renormalization" to get rid of these infinities and restore the theory to a complete form. Renormalization not only axed the infinities in QED but became the test that any fundamental theory of physics had to pass before being deemed acceptable. In a stunning set of successes, it was applied to the unification of the weak and electromagnetic forces and then to the strong force holding protons and neutrons together. In this book Frank Close tells us how all this happened.

Close's book is not only a clear description of renormalization but is also probably the most detailed popular history of post-war particle physics that I have read. Close starts with QED and how its brilliant expositors like Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman developed renormalization techniques to exorcise its infinities. After this, the major part of the book deals with comprehensively describing one of the great triumphs of modern physics - the unification of the weak and electromagnetic forces by Sheldon Glashow, Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam. This theory had to be again shown to be renormalizable, a momentous feat that was achieved by Dutch physicists Gerard 't Hooft and Martin Veltman. Along the way we are also treated to a fast-paced account of developments leading to the conjecture of the Higgs boson which was originally proposed to explain the difference in masses between the carriers of the electroweak force (the massive Z and W bosons) and the electromagnetic force (the massless photon). And finally Close describes one of the last pieces of the subatomic puzzle, the unraveling of the strong force inside atomic nuclei and the structure of protons and neutrons. These developments capping the understanding of the strong, weak and electromagnetic interactions paved the way to the creation of the Standard Model of particle physics, the crowning glory of physics that encompasses all known particles and forces except gravity and predicts the Higgs boson.

However, the most fascinating aspect of Close's book in my opinion is not the lucid description of these technical details but the way it sheds light on both the nature of discovery and most importantly, the human side of science. As Close himself says, science as it appears to the public seems to consist of a few heroes marching resolutely on a linear trajectory to the truth. But as he marvelously documents, the truth is very different and way more messy and non-linear. Science is as much an unpredictable human drama as an exploration of nature's secrets. In every part of the story we see fallible human beings with all their ambitions, prejudices and flaws. There are lots of cases where scientists give up promising leads because of unfavorable remarks or neglect by others and have their discoveries scooped up later by fellow scientists who then win a Nobel Prize. We also read about the Nobel Laureate P. W. Anderson using insights from a very different field (superconductivity) to make key contributions to the ideas leading to the Higgs. Then there are little-known brilliant scientists like J. C. Ward and Ronald Shaw who have their fundamental ideas ignored because they are relatively unknown junior researchers who are lower in the hierarchy. Nobel Prizes are eagerly sought after, narrowly missed and even lobbied for. Sometimes one can see the almost eerie simultaneous germination of ideas in multiple minds, with some of them blossoming under the right circumstances and others fizzling out because of lack of interest or context. In many such cases, so many people end up contributing to a discovery in so many different ways that assigning credit becomes difficult or impossible. For instance, although Higgs's name is attached to the famous particle, it's clear that at least five others independently had the same ideas. Furthermore, in almost every case that Close documents, there are mutually conflicting accounts by scientists of the exact time, place and source leading to the conception of a key idea. Chance encounters and fortuitous attendances at the right scientific meetings seem to contribute to scientists' thought processes to a disproportionate extent. To his credit Close goes into considerable detail when describing all this and it's truly incredible to realize by reading his account how messy, haphazard and subject to sheer luck the actual process of scientific discovery is. Far from being the sure path to knowledge often depicted by the media, science resembles a zigzag, unpredictable climb over hills and valleys obscured by fog.

Yet the beauty of it is that the truth, whatever it is, is surely out there, and an alert and intelligent mind can recognize it through hard-work, curiosity and mathematical prowess. The emphasis on the latter is especially clear in the book, and it's remarkable to realize the almost terrifying power of mathematics that allowed scientists to conjecture the existence of new fundamental particles of nature through sheer thought alone. In many cases it took fifteen or twenty years before these particles were actually found by experiment. The history of particle physics in this sense shows us what the human mind is capable of.

As Close tells us in the end, these adventures are far from over. The last part of the book is dedicated to the equally heroic and imaginative experimental efforts devoted to verifying the predictions of the theorists, many of which gathered Nobel Prizes. As the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) spews out massive amounts of data, scientists are waiting with bated breath for the Higgs or its absence. Either way it would be a momentous event and would point to new, hitherto unexplored directions. Overall I would strongly recommend Close's book as one of the best accounts of both the post-war development of particle physics and of the idiosyncratic human side of science that I have read. The story is as epic as any great novel and packed with fascinating characters. Close tells it exceedingly well.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen This book is for the historian of physics 10. Mai 2012
Von Herbert Gintis - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
If you are interested in the minute details of who-did-what-first in the evolution of the Standard Model, and you really care about who got Nobel prizes and who did not but really deserved to, then this is the book for you. I don't care about either very much, so a good part of this book was a waste of my time.

The descriptions of basic physics models is always very challenging, and Close tries to do a good job of it. He does manage to get across a lot about how fundamental particles behave, but the various theories he discusses are just names, with no substantive content. I know that in mathematics, there are many areas that simply cannot be explained to the non-mathematical layperson, and that may be true of modern physics as well. However, in other fields that I know (population biology and economics, for instance) the important stuff can be fully explained with only the most minimal use of mathematical formalism. I am searching for a popular account of the Standard Model with this attractive feature.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen The Higgs Boson Explained 14. Dezember 2011
Von Peter W. Donovan - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This review is being written on 14 December 2011 just after
CERN announced to a packed press conference in Geneva that
it had found evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson.
While this is not as sensational as the first landing on the
Moon, it is a partial verification of the relevance to the
real world of various developments made in theoretical
physics since 1950.

So what is needed is an authoritative book explaining what
is CERN, who is Higgs and what is a boson? Frank Close
has written such a book in advance of the press conference.
He is a senior physicist and an experienced writer about
science. He interviewed participants, read papers and
other documents and used his own expertise to give a
useful account of the sequence of events.

Inevitably the technical aspects of renormalization and
bosons are glossed over to some extent. `If all this
could be summarized in a few sentences it would not be
worth a Nobel prize.' Close has quite a lot to say about
several Nobel prize awards as well as explaining how
high level progress in science is achieved.

The difficulty facing this or any other reviewer is
specifying the professional background needed to read
the book. At the very least, experience in any of the
physical sciences and/or the history of technology helps.
However anyone with an interest in physics will
benefit from reading some or all `Infinity Puzzle'.
22 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen History of science 9. März 2012
Von Italo Mazzitelli - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I was suggested this book by a friend of mine, a physicist "old style" like me, when told that I was looking for some simple mathematical or physical discussions about Yang-Mills theories, renormalizability in QED and QCD, and all that. As a matter of fact, I found the book fully devoted to a meticulous analysis of all the contributions by single scientists to the making of modern quantum field theories and of the Standard Model. The issues of interest for me are addressed "en passant", and very perfunctorily. About 30% of the book is expended in minute details to put in the shade Abdus Salam's contribution to the electroweak unification. I would recommend the book to historians of physics only, since the scientific content as a whole is almost vanishing.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Finding the 'particle' gives us the detailed rules of Nature, and those details tell us how Nature does its work 14. Dezember 2011
Von Didaskalex - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe

"It is a pleasure to read a book on recent advances in our understanding of the structure of matter by an author who not only understands the subject but also takes care to investigate conflicting accounts of how these advances came about."--Peter Higgs, Prof. Emer. Physics

Under the auspices of CERN in Switzerland, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was constructed to accelerate particles around the speed of light. LHC is the biggest experiment that particle physics has ever set out to conduct, trying to find answer to how the universe is structured and why. By creating miniature matter/anti-matter collisions in "a small region of space, what the universe as a whole was like in the first moments after the Big Bang."
Sought for decades in experiments aimed at detecting the subatomic particle, it gets its nickname, the 'God particle', from its elusiveness. That particle, when found, will answer why other subatomic particles weigh, what they do, perhaps opening the door to explain the mystery of gravity. By literally smashing atomic particles together, and see what pieces emerge from the collisions. Recently, two research teams at CERN lab report they have found evidence for the existence of the God particle.

"Finding the 'particle' gives us the detailed rules of Nature, and those details tell us how Nature does its work, and will hopefully lead to more discoveries." says physicist Frank Close. His adventure through the major scientific discoveries in high energy physics, started when Paul Dirac harmonized quantum mechanics with Special Relativity in 1928, advancing the major technical progress in today's digital world.
In telling the story, Close focuses in particular on the scientists who made the discovery, bringing us to this remarkable point in history. Half a century ago, they made two separate discoveries. First, how to unite the electromagnetic force, with weak force of radioactivity, called the electroweak theory today. The other part is how to formulate a theory, which works well, if there is no mass in anything at all, could equally work in a world where particles have mass.

The electroweak theory was built out of attempts to have a self-consistent gauge theory for the weak force, in analogy with quantum electrodynamics (QED), the modern theory of the electromagnetic force, developed in the 1940s. The two basic Constraints for the gauge theory of the weak force are first; fundamental mathematical symmetry, called gauge invariance, that the forces are the same at different points in space and time. Second, the theory should not contain nonphysical infinite quantities, or being renormalizable. That has become known as the Higgs mechanism, and the perfect object being looked for is the Higgs boson. The questions surrounding whether these objects are named correctly, and whether the scientists who won Nobel Prize then were the proper ones, and if controversies over Nobel Prizes will arise in the future are the themes of the mesmerizing book. It's all about the politics of science, and the drive to get the Nobel prize.

SCIENCE -- December 13, 2011 at 2:19 PM EDT
Hunt for Higgs Continues:
Evidence of the elusive Higgs Boson may be peeking out from some very dense data, but scientists are not ready to conclude that they've found it, according to an announcement in a crowded auditorium Tuesday morning at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Scientists from two separate experiments there -- C.M.S. and Atlas -- said they have found promising hints of Higgs, and evidence that the particle weighs about 125 billion electron volts. But, they say, they need more data to prove that it's not a statistical fluke.
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