Most Wanted Particle: The Inside Story of the Hunt for the Higgs, the Heart of the Future of Physics

The Experiment
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Now in paperback: the “vivid account of what the process of discovery was really like for an insider.”—Peter Higgs
 
Particle physics as we know it depends on the Higgs boson: It’s the missing link between the birth of our universe—as a sea of tiny, massless particles—and the tangible world we live in today. But for more than 50 years, scientists wondered: Does it exist?
 
Physicist Jon Butterworth was at the frontlines of the hunt for the Higgs at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider—perhaps the most ambitious experiment in history. In Most Wanted Particle, he gives us the first inside account of that uncertain time, when an entire field hinged on a single particle, and life at the cutting edge of science meant media scrutiny, late-night pub debates, dispiriting false starts in the face of intense pressure, and countless hours at the collider itself. As Butterworth explains, our first glimpse of the elusive Higgs brings us a giant step closer to understanding the universe—and points the way to an entirely new kind of physics.
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About the author

Jon Butterworth is a professor of physics and astronomy at University College London and a member of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. He writes the Life and Physics blog for the Guardian. In 2013, he received the Chadwick Medal of the Institute of Physics. He is also the author of Most Wanted Particle, shortlisted for Book of the Year by Physics World.

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Additional Information

Publisher
The Experiment
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Published on
Jan 27, 2015
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781615192465
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Cosmology
Science / Experiments & Projects
Science / Physics / Atomic & Molecular
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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A radical new view of the nature of time and the cosmos—“at once entertaining, thought-provoking, fabulously ambitious and fabulously speculative” (The New York Times Book Review).
 
What is time?
 
This deceptively simple question is the single most important problem facing science as we probe deeper into the fundamentals of the universe. All of the mysteries physicists and cosmologists face—from the Big Bang to the future of the universe, from the puzzles of quantum physics to the unification of forces and particles—come down to the nature of time.
 
The fact that time is real may seem obvious. You experience it passing every day when you watch clocks tick, bread toast, and children grow. But most physicists, from Newton to Einstein to today’s quantum theorists, have seen things differently. The scientific case for time being an illusion is formidable. That is why the consequences of adopting the view that time is real are revolutionary.
 
Here, the author of The Trouble with Physics argues that a limited notion of time is holding physics back—and what we need now is a major shift in scientific thought. The true reality of this manmade construct could be the key to the next big breakthrough in theoretical physics—and could hold implications relevant to issues from climate change to the economy.
 
What if the laws of physics themselves were not ageless? What if they could evolve? Time Reborn offers a radical approach to cosmology that embraces the concept of time and opens up a whole new universe of possibilities.
 
“With rare conceptual daring, Smolin beckons toward a new perspective for doing cosmological theory . . . A thrilling intellectual ride.” —Booklist, starred review
◆2016年皇家學會年度科學書籍獎:名列決選名單

◆2013諾貝爾物理學獎得主希格斯大力推薦


讓內行人帶領我們直探位在瑞士的尖端研究現場。

這裡不僅孕育驚人的科學新發現,更是回饋全人類福祉的超級腦力發明工廠!


「本書讓讀者身歷其境體驗何謂世界一流、最後也成功導致諾貝爾獎的科學研究。這種等級的研究,一生能夠碰到幾次呢?這是個不能錯過、值得一讀的精彩好故事。」

——陳凱風(台大物理系教授)專文導讀、專業審定。


★近二十年物理界最激勵人心的躍進


希格斯粒子是什麼?它有什麼重要地位,使全世界的科學家都密切注意。台灣的物理菁英也不落人後,組團至瑞士參與這件科學盛事。這一切,又和你我每日生活有何關係?


為了這行蹤飄忽的粒子,科學家決定通力合作,建造史上最大、最昂貴也最精密的儀器「大型強子對撞機」。這部耗資超過一百億瑞士法郎(相當三千億新台幣)的龐然大物,大部分藏在地底。在全長二十七公里,恰能繞台北市蛋黃區轉一圈的隧道裡,兩團粒子用接近光速正面對撞、撕裂四射。科學家是如何從瞬息的碰撞之中,鎖定希格斯粒子出沒的蛛絲馬跡?儀器為什麼又非得大、非得高能不可呢?


★超難得,高能物理學行家完全導遊


本書作者巴特沃斯教授,任職於這具儀器所在的歐洲核子研究機構,現身說法分享這場世紀大追尋中,整整六年之中,身為職業科學家的精采日常。


例如,大型強子對撞機才剛上線試運轉,怎麼就「爆炸」了?微中子真的跑得比光速快嗎?對撞的超高能量有無可能創造出黑洞,摧毀地球?


正如同大型強子對撞機被物理學家稱為「不會失敗的實驗」,閱讀本書也不會讓讀者空手而歸。讀著細細鋪陳的章節,我們會逐漸了解物理緊密相扣的的奧秘:希格斯粒子被發現的意義是什麼?它代表人類對宇宙的根本原理——物理學,已有多深的認識?目前我們離「大一統理論」還有多遠?一窺科學家心中,至於願意為之竭盡思慮、燃燒熱情的宏大願景。


★科學的重要在於日常看得到


利用這千載難逢的題材,作者除了談物理學的卓越勝利,也談科學與你我的緊密關聯。


當許多科學家集合智力、齊聚追尋某些超難問題時,一些現今不可或缺的重要科技,就會不經意地「順便」被發明出來。伯納李爵士於1989年,便在歐洲核子研究機構創造了「全球資訊網」(WWW)的雛形,將我們帶進資訊時代。


粒子對撞實驗產生驚人的數據流,相當於每秒有兩張藍光DVD的資料,透過網際網路分發到全世界的「分散式計算網格」進行處理(沒錯,物理學家坐享世界最大頻寬),現在它也能轉為用來設計藥物分子和預測嶄新材料,台灣也擁有一個這樣的網格,默默地在造福科學社群。


不可思議的科技,往往從不可思議的科學計畫中誕生。我們已習以為常的醫療器材:電腦斷層掃描、核磁共振造影(MRI)、正子放射造影(PET)、甚至癌症重粒子治療,一百年的前人看見會覺得宛如魔法,這都多虧科學家對原子的特性有透徹了解才能實現。當人類對物理掌握得更透徹,誰知道還會帶來多大的突飛猛進?太空電梯、量子電腦、甚至星際旅行的動力,都有可能在某個方程式、某次實驗裡忽然現蹤。


在研究教學之餘,巴特沃斯也經常作為專業來賓,作客英國電視節目,以圈內人的觀點、普羅大眾的語言,生動有趣地講解科學界的新突破、趣聞與八卦。在本書中,他帶領我們一路攀上了當代科學視野的高峰,不只展示沿途風景之美,一路上發現的寶物更彷彿在說:科學不但有用,更是非要不可!


【各界好評】


巴特沃斯是第一位把科學探索過程用內行人觀點生動描寫出來的作者!

——希格斯(Peter Higgs)教授書評


這是本獨一無二的書,紀錄了粒子物理學界二十年來的跌宕起伏,並以發現希格斯玻色子磅礡作結。在我職業生涯中所熟知的喬恩.巴特沃斯,是一位思想有見地、富創造力、人好相處,偶爾會直言不諱的物理學者。他性格中的各個面向,都體現在這本精彩的書裡。

——考克斯(Brian Cox)「物理界的搖滾巨星」,共同著有《為什麼 E = mc2?》


本書遠遠不只是另一本訴說如何利用大型強子對撞機尋找希格斯粒子的故事―讀者得以藉由作者的經驗,深入探索、並沉浸在科學發現的過程,那些必經的政治角力、內心悸動、和一場純粹理性與智識的冒險!

——卡利里(Jim Al-Khalili),著有《悖論》、《解開生命之謎》


這本書用「巷子內」的精闢觀點,生動且深入地介紹了希格斯玻色子的發現過程,揭露高能物理學家生涯中的點點滴滴,更精湛地詮釋了高能物理近年最重要的發現。

——《新科學家》雜誌


想弄懂何謂希格斯粒子、大型強子對撞機在進行什麼樣實驗的讀者,本書一是場你專屬的閱讀饗宴。身為職業科學家,不可避免得與「現實」世界的政治角力、經濟景氣等因素無縫接軌,作者在此挺身而出、面向公眾,強力捍衛資助基礎科學研究之必要。

——湯普森(Steve Thompson)「史蒂夫物理」部落格


巴特沃斯教授講出了身為科學家對科學普及的熱誠與擔憂,亦生動描述了與記者、大眾的互動,令同樣身為科學家及科普作家的我獲益匪淺。無論讀者是學生、老師,或純粹對粒子物理學有興趣,我都保證你會讀得過癮。

——余海峯/博士,瑞典皇家理工學院粒子及天體粒子物理組


現行高中物理課程新增了宇宙學、基本粒子等單元。在我教學時,學生對相關報導及影片極有興趣。甚至近年大考試題也陸續出現「希格斯玻色子」、「標準模型」等內容。我認為本書恰能提供想認識高能物理的人一份絕佳的閱讀材料,它免除了教科書般艱澀的理論,卻簡潔易懂地交代了許多重要物理概念。讓讀者身歷其境,了解科學發展整體的過程。

——盧政良/博士,高雄中學物理教師、高師大兼任助理教授


自古希臘哲學家泰利斯(Thales of Miletus)最早提出「什麼是萬物本原?」,人類對於這個問題的探索至今未曾停止。高中教科書給出了答案:夸克、輕子、規範玻色子與希格斯玻色子,卻去除了知識的脈絡,科學發現的過程卻極為複雜。本書對於高中生有些艱澀,但若要理解粒子物理學、標準模型,與科學發展過程的來龍去脈,本書大大填補了教科書的不足。

——邱博文/物理教師,從事高中物理教學工作二十餘年 




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