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Present at the Creation

Discovering the Higgs Boson

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Description

The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest, and by far the most powerful, machine ever built. A project of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, its audacious purpose is to re-create, in a 16.5-mile-long circular tunnel under the French-Swiss countryside, the immensely hot and dense conditions that existed some 13.7 billion years ago within the first trillionth of a second after the fiery birth of our universe. The collider is now crashing protons at record energy levels never created by scientists before, and it will reach even higher levels by 2013. Its superconducting magnets guide two beams of protons in opposite directions around the track. After accelerating the beams to 99.9999991 percent of the speed of light, it collides the protons head-on, annihilating them in a flash of energy sufficient—in accordance with Einstein’s elegant statement of mass-energy equivalence, E=mc2—to coalesce into a shower of particles and phenomena that have not existed since the first moments of creation. Within the LHC’s detectors, scientists hope to see empirical confirmation of key theories in physics and cosmology.

In telling the story of what is perhaps the most anticipated experiment in the history of science, Amir D. Aczel takes us inside the control rooms at CERN at key moments when an international team of top researchers begins to discover whether this multibillion-euro investment will fulfill its spectacular promise. Through the eyes and words of the men and women who conceived and built CERN and the LHC—and with the same clarity and depth of knowledge he demonstrated in the bestselling Fermat’s Last Theorem—Aczel enriches all of us with a firm grounding in the scientific concepts we will need to appreciate the discoveries that will almost certainly spring forth when the full power of this great machine is finally unleashed.

Will the Higgs boson make its breathlessly awaited appearance, confirming at last the Standard Model of particles and their interactions that is among the great theoretical achievements of twentieth-century physics? Will the hidden dimensions posited by string theory be revealed? Will we at last identify the nature of the dark matter that makes up more than 90 percent of the cosmos? With Present at the Creation, written by one of today’s finest popular interpreters of basic science, we can all follow the progress of an experiment that promises to greatly satisfy the curiosity of anyone who ever concurred with Einstein when he said, “I want to know God’s thoughts—the rest is details.”

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 25, 2010 – Dan Brown fans and science buffs alike will be familiar with CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), where scientists probe the origins of our universe using the largest and most powerful machine ever created, the Large Hadron Collider. In the hands of Aczel (The Cave and the Cathedral), a research fellow at Boston University, truth is more compelling than fiction. He describes CERN's ongoing research to find "the last particle needed to confirm the validity of Standard Model of particle physics" and discover the answer to how the universe got its mass. The LHC can accelerate protons up to the very edge of the speed of light; by smashing two beams of accelerated protons together, scientists hope to solve the mystery of what happened in the first "five thousand-trillionths of a second" after the creation of the universe. Aczel brings the non-scientist reader up to speed with a clear description of theoretical and experimental scientific advances over past century and the development of accelerator technology. An exciting, true scientific adventure. Illus.

Customer Reviews

A great introduction to Cern's LHC and Quantum mechanics

This is a well written book in layman's language introducing one to the Physics history and theories being experimentally worked on at the world's largest particle accelerator as well as the history and workings of the LHC itself. Not light reading but well worth the effort it takes to read.

Present at the Creation
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Physics
  • Published: Oct 05, 2010
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 296 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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