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Winner of the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books It was the universe’s most elusive particle, the linchpin for everything scientists dreamed up to explain how physics works. It had to be found. But projects as big as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider don’t happen without incredible risks – and occasional skullduggery. In the definitive account of this landmark event, Caltech physicist and acclaimed science writer Sean Carroll reveals the insights, rivalry, and wonder that fuelled the Higgs discovery, and takes us on a riveting and irresistible ride to the very edge of physics today.
With his trademark wit and lucidity, Carroll (From Eternity to Here) delivers the story of the search for the elusive Higgs boson the Holy Grail of particle physics which was finally discovered earlier in 2012. The tale, says Carroll, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, is one of money, politics, and jealousy among scientists and nations seeking the prize. The Higgs boson is not an atomic particle; it s part of the Higgs field that pervades the universe and gives atomic particles their mass. The quest for the elusive particle required a cutting-edge tool: the massive, complex Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. Carroll takes readers inside the collider s 17-mile ring, where protons zoom around at ultrahigh speeds to smash together, revealing telltale signs of the boson. Along the way Carroll introduces researchers like Mike Lamont, the LHC s Mister Scott ; engineer Lyn Evans, the man who built the LHC; and Fabiola Gianotti, one of the top women scientists in the world. Whether explaining complex physics like field theory and symmetry or the workings of particle accelerators, Carroll s clarity and unbridled enthusiasm reveal the pure excitement of discovery as much as they illuminate the facts. Illus.