A Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC

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  1. A Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC
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It is a must for cultivated, non specialist readers who want to get an introduction to contemporary particle physics and to the exciting programme of the Large Hadron Collider of CERN. Nima Arkani-Hamed, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Gian Giudice has drawn on his deep understanding of physics to write a wonderful book, presenting the central ideas underlying the grand intellectual adventure of particle physics in an engaging and thought-provoking way.

A must read for anyone who wants to understand the big questions we face in fundamental physics, and the ways we are tackling them.

A Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC

Ken Peach, John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science, University of Oxford and Royal Holloway University of London Gian Giudice has, as one would expect from such a clear and original thinker, produced a book which both challenges and excites, providing fresh insights into the domain of particles and their interactions.

Thomas Lohse, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany This fascinating book is entertaining and comprehensible, leading the reader to the world of extremes: the high technology of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and its huge particle detectors Weinberg, during the construction phase of the SSC.

He has contributed to our present understanding of particle physics and cosmology with more than a hundred articles published in refereed scientific journals. Dissecting Matter; 3. Forces of Nature; 4. Stairway to Heaven; 6. The Lord of the Rings; 7. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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I mean, they sell them at tourist shops here. I must know all that stuff, right? No: wrong, wrong, wrong! Luckily, a colleague at work had a copy of A Zeptospace Odyssey and said he was sure I'd enjoy it. He dropped it off on my desk when I was away, and it seemed plain rude to hand it back unread; it turned out to be both amusing and informative. The book, written by a guy who's apparently worked at CERN for a large part of his career, is divided into three sections.

The first gives you a brisk tour of the physics which forms the basis for the LHC. The second tells you about the LHC itself. The third the book came out in describes the cool things they hoped to do once they'd got it properly running. Of the three sections, I liked the second one best; the author appears to know a great deal about how the LHC was constructed, and gives you many picturesque details. I had heard that it was the most complicated machine ever built, but I hadn't appreciated quite what that meant. The most frightening part is the superconducting magnets.

They weigh thirty tons each, this being the largest load that could feasibly be transported along European roads, and are engineered to incredibly tight tolerances. They operate just under the temperature where they would cease to be superconductive, and extreme care has to be taken to make sure that they don't "quench". I had not understood how powerful the particle beam is; despite the fact that it consists of only a few tens of billions of protons, almost nothing at all, its near-lightspeed velocity means it's got the energy of a ton train.

There are many nice pictures of the magnets, detectors and other complex machinery. Despite being so new, the third section has a curiously dated feel. He's fairly confident that they will find the Higgs particle there is a good explanation of what it is and why it's important , and then there are three or four chapters of euphoric speculation about what other goodies might turn up; he gives you plausible reasons to expect that the new energies the LHC can reach mean a decisive frontier has been crossed.

As everyone knows, they did indeed find the Higgs, but apart from that, nothing. No supersymmetric particles, no dark matter, in short no evidence of any physics that fails to fit the Standard Model. But this is still a very nice account of how Big Science gets done.

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  • Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC - Oxford Scholarship.

And who knows what might happen next? He presents arguments from string theory, which I couldn't follow, to prove his point. But four years later, the people at CERN are still looking for supersymmetric particles. Well, I guess experimentalists shouldn't believe everything theoreticians tell them but check for themselves.


It was still a little odd that he never mentioned that supersymmetry was officially dead. For more details, see here. Does space hide supersymmetry or extend into extra dimensions? How can colliding protons at the LHC unlock the secrets of the origin of our universe? These questions are all framed and then addressed by an expert in the field. While making no compromises in accuracy, this highly technical material is presented in a friendly, accessible style.

The book's aim is not just to inform, but to give the reader the physicist's sense of awe and excitement, as we stand on the brink of a new era in understanding the world in which we all live.

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