The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World

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Winner of the prestigious 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

“A modern voyage of discovery.” —Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, author of The Lightness of Being

The Higgs boson is one of our era’s most fascinating scientific frontiers and the key to understanding why mass exists. The most recent book on the subject, The God Particle, was a bestseller. Now, Caltech physicist Sean Carroll documents the doorway that is opening—after billions of dollars and the efforts of thousands of researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland—into the mind-boggling world of dark matter. The Particle at the End of the Universe has it all: money and politics, jealousy and self-sacrifice, history and cutting-edge physics—all grippingly told by a rising star of science writing.
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About the author

Sean Carroll, PhD, is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. After receiving his doctorate at Harvard, he pursued his research at MIT, the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, and the University of Chicago. Also the author of From Eternity to Here, he lives in Los Angeles.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Nov 13, 2012
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9781101609705
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / History
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
Science / Physics / Atomic & Molecular
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*
"Vivid . . . impressive. . . . Splendidly informative."—The New York Times
"Succeeds spectacularly."—Science
"A tour de force."—Salon

Already internationally acclaimed for his elegant, lucid writing on the most challenging notions in modern physics, Sean Carroll is emerging as one of the greatest humanist thinkers of his generation as he brings his extraordinary intellect to bear not only on Higgs bosons and extra dimensions but now also on our deepest personal questions: Where are we? Who are we? Are our emotions, our beliefs, and our hopes and dreams ultimately meaningless out there in the void? Do human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific worldview?

In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level—and then how each connects to the other. Carroll's presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe is dazzlingly unique.  

Carroll shows how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us. Our lives are dwarfed like never before by the immensity of space and time, but they are redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.

The Big Picture is an unprecedented scientific worldview, a tour de force that will sit on shelves alongside the works of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, and E. O. Wilson for years to come.
Since 2008 scientists have conducted experiments in a hyperenergized, 17-mile supercollider beneath the border of France and Switzerland. The Large Hadron Collider (or what scientists call "the LHC") is one of the wonders of the modern world—a highly sophisticated scientific instrument designed to recreate in miniature the conditions of the universe as they existed in the microseconds following the big bang. Among many notable LHC discoveries, one led to the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for revealing evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle.

Picking up where he left off in The Quantum Frontier, physicist Don Lincoln shares an insider’s account of the LHC’s operational history and gives readers everything they need to become well informed on this marvel of technology.

Writing about the LHC’s early days, Lincoln offers keen insight into an accident that derailed the operation nine days after the collider’s 2008 debut. A faulty solder joint started a chain reaction that caused a massive explosion, damaged 50 superconducting magnets, and vaporized large sections of the conductor. The crippled LHC lay dormant for over a year, while technical teams repaired the damage.

Lincoln devotes an entire chapter to the Higgs boson and Higgs field, using several extended analogies to help explain the importance of these concepts to particle physics. In the final chapter, he describes what the discovery of the Higgs boson tells us about our current understanding of basic physics and how the discovery now keeps scientists awake over a nagging inconsistency in their favorite theory.

As accessible as it is fascinating, The Large Hadron Collider reveals the inner workings of this masterful achievement of technology, along with the mind-blowing discoveries that will keep it at the center of the scientific frontier for the foreseeable future.

-- Anna Call
A rising star in theoretical physics offers his awesome vision of our universe and beyond, all beginning with a simple question: Why does time move forward?

Time moves forward, not backward—everyone knows you can’t unscramble an egg. In the hands of one of today’s hottest young physicists, that simple fact of breakfast becomes a doorway to understanding the Big Bang, the universe, and other universes, too. In From Eternity to Here, Sean Carroll argues that the arrow of time, pointing resolutely from the past to the future, owes its existence to conditions before the Big Bang itself—a period modern cosmology of which Einstein never dreamed. Increasingly, though, physicists are going out into realms that make the theory of relativity seem like child’s play. Carroll’s scenario is not only elegant, it’s laid out in the same easy-to- understand language that has made his group blog, Cosmic Variance, the most popular physics blog on the Net.

From Eternity to Here uses ideas at the cutting edge of theoretical physics to explore how properties of spacetime before the Big Bang can explain the flow of time we experience in our everyday lives. Carroll suggests that we live in a baby universe, part of a large family of universes in which many of our siblings experience an arrow of time running in the opposite direction. It’s an ambitious, fascinating picture of the universe on an ultra-large scale, one that will captivate fans of popular physics blockbusters like Elegant Universe and A Brief History of Time.

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Una brillante y esclarecedora explicación del experimento científico más importante de las últimas décadas.

El bosón de Higgs ha sido descrito por muchos como el mayor avance en la comprensión de nuestro universo y como uno de los descubrimientos científicos más fascinantes de nuestro tiempo. Fundamental para comprender por qué existe la masa y por qué existen los átomos, esta escurridiza partícula ha sido hallada por fin después de una inversión de 9.000 millones de dólares, décadas de esfuerzo y el trabajo de cerca de seis mil investigadores en el Gran Colisionador de Hadrones de Ginebra.

El físico del Caltech, Sean Carroll, lleva a los lectores entre los bastidores del Gran Colisionador de Hadrones en el CERN, para encontrarse con teóricos, ingenieros y experimentalistas, arroja luz sobre este hito científico y explica la ciencia del bosón de Higgs, erróneamente conocido como «la partícula divina».

Con el bosón se descubre la última pieza del rompecabezas de la materia ordinaria: los átomos y las fuerzas que subyacen en todas partes, desde el ADN hasta el calentamiento global. Ahora se abre una puerta de entrada a lo extraordinario: el alucinante mundo de la materia oscura y más allá.

La partícula al final del universo no solo explica la importancia del bosón de Higgs, sino también la del Gran Colisionador de Hadrones. Una historia de cómo el ansia de conocimiento del ser humano ha conducido el mayor logro científico de nuestro tiempo.

Los expertos opinan...
«Sean Carroll nos acompaña en un extraordinario viaje hacia el descubrimiento.»
Frank Wilczek, premio Nobel de Física

«Carroll nos cuenta la historia de la partícula de la que todo el mundo ha oído hablar pero pocos comprenden. Tras leer este libro -un cóctel de anécdotas, inteligentes analogías y pequeñas dosis de teoría alucinante-, entenderemos perfectamente por qué el bosón de Higgs ha sido perseguido durante tanto tiempo por tantos investigadores. [...] Contagioso e inspirador.»
Morgan Freeman, actor y productor ejecutivo de Through the Wormhole

«Sean Carroll ofrece una mirada lúcida y fascinante a la partícula más misteriosa y más importante de la naturaleza, y al experimento que la descubrió. Cualquiera que esté interesado en la física debería leer este libro.»
Leonard Mlodinow

«Con la agudeza y la lucidez que lo caracterizan, Carroll relata la historia de la búsqueda del escurridizo bosón de Higgs. [...] La claridad y el entusiasmo ilimitado de Carroll revelan lo apasionante del descubrimiento.»

Publishers Weekly

A rising star in theoretical physics offers his awesome vision of our universe and beyond, all beginning with a simple question: Why does time move forward?

Time moves forward, not backward—everyone knows you can’t unscramble an egg. In the hands of one of today’s hottest young physicists, that simple fact of breakfast becomes a doorway to understanding the Big Bang, the universe, and other universes, too. In From Eternity to Here, Sean Carroll argues that the arrow of time, pointing resolutely from the past to the future, owes its existence to conditions before the Big Bang itself—a period modern cosmology of which Einstein never dreamed. Increasingly, though, physicists are going out into realms that make the theory of relativity seem like child’s play. Carroll’s scenario is not only elegant, it’s laid out in the same easy-to- understand language that has made his group blog, Cosmic Variance, the most popular physics blog on the Net.

From Eternity to Here uses ideas at the cutting edge of theoretical physics to explore how properties of spacetime before the Big Bang can explain the flow of time we experience in our everyday lives. Carroll suggests that we live in a baby universe, part of a large family of universes in which many of our siblings experience an arrow of time running in the opposite direction. It’s an ambitious, fascinating picture of the universe on an ultra-large scale, one that will captivate fans of popular physics blockbusters like Elegant Universe and A Brief History of Time.

Watch a Video

*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*
"Vivid . . . impressive. . . . Splendidly informative."—The New York Times
"Succeeds spectacularly."—Science
"A tour de force."—Salon

Already internationally acclaimed for his elegant, lucid writing on the most challenging notions in modern physics, Sean Carroll is emerging as one of the greatest humanist thinkers of his generation as he brings his extraordinary intellect to bear not only on Higgs bosons and extra dimensions but now also on our deepest personal questions: Where are we? Who are we? Are our emotions, our beliefs, and our hopes and dreams ultimately meaningless out there in the void? Do human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific worldview?

In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level—and then how each connects to the other. Carroll's presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe is dazzlingly unique.  

Carroll shows how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us. Our lives are dwarfed like never before by the immensity of space and time, but they are redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.

The Big Picture is an unprecedented scientific worldview, a tour de force that will sit on shelves alongside the works of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, and E. O. Wilson for years to come.
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