The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter

Princeton University Press
3
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In the first fractions of a second after the Big Bang lingers a question at the heart of our very existence: why does the universe contain matter but almost no antimatter? The laws of physics tell us that equal amounts of matter and antimatter were produced in the early universe—but then something odd happened. Matter won out over antimatter; had it not, the universe today would be dark and barren.

But how and when did this occur? In The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter, Helen Quinn and Yossi Nir guide readers into the very heart of this mystery—and along the way offer an exhilarating grand tour of cutting-edge physics.

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About the author

Helen R. Quinn is professor emerita of particle physics and astrophysics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at Stanford University. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she is the coauthor of The Charm of Strange Quarks: Mysteries and Revolutions of Particle Physics. Yossi Nir is professor of physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2010
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9781400835713
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Cosmology
Science / General
Science / Physics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The twentieth century was astonishing in all regards, shaking the foundations of practically every aspect of human life and thought, physics not least of all. Beginning with the publication of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, through the wild revolution of quantum mechanics, and up until the physics of the modern day (including the astonishing revelation, in 1998, that the Universe is not only expanding, but doing so at an ever-quickening pace), much of what physicists have seen in our Universe suggests that much of our Universe is unseen—that we live in a dark cosmos.

Everyone knows that there are things no one can see—the air you're breathing, for example, or, to be more exotic, a black hole. But what everyone does not know is that what we can see—a book, a cat, or our planet—makes up only 5 percent of the Universe. The rest—fully 95 percent—is totally invisible to us; its presence discernible only by the weak effects it has on visible matter around it.

This invisible stuff comes in two varieties—dark matter and dark energy. One holds the Universe together, while the other tears it apart. What these forces really are has been a mystery for as long as anyone has suspected they were there, but the latest discoveries of experimental physics have brought us closer to that knowledge. Particle physicist Dan Hooper takes his readers, with wit, grace, and a keen knack for explaining the toughest ideas science has to offer, on a quest few would have ever expected: to discover what makes up our dark cosmos.

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