Book review 1) The Particle at the End of the Universe

I saw already lot of people to do book review, like Joseph from Rationalising the Universe or Abyssbrain from Mathemagical site. I have already used a lot of parts from this book in posts about dark matter, dark energy, particle accelerators and so on.

It is book: The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll. It is about particle physics and the Higgs boson.

This book has 13 chapters and three extra three parts explaining some stuff around.
Author starts the book with short introduction to history of particle physics, what people thought that was making up everything. He mentions elements, atoms and so on, then he introduces higgs boson and his role in standard model of physics. He explains why he thinks that it is important to study it and what part LHC plays in this.

In second chapter Sean explains why Higgs is also called “god particle” and the relationship of physicists with god. There is also review of properties of Higgs and some things about fields.

In third chapter author introduces whole standard model and how higgs boson changes it. There are parts about all particles and all four interactions.

Fourth chapter is about the story of accelerators and how they work. This continues to next chapter where there is description of all the work that had to be done to build LHC with credit to all people. Author describes how are particles detected and how they decay.

Whole chapter is just about fields and gravitational waves continuing about symmetries and how they are broken. This is also probably the most complex part of the book which I had to read more times to really get to know what is it all about.

He continues with deep look into finding of Higgs boson with stories about all the people around, and the excitement about it.

There are stories about destroying the world with LHC creating black holes and author perfectly talks about the way news are used in magazines and how physicists were trying their best to not let spread a wrong news about Higgs.

In 11th chapter Sean is talking about Nobel awards for particle physics that led towards Higgs.

The book ends with text about the new things that are now opened for scientists to discover when they know that the particle really exists.

In three extra parts author adds some more context to spin, standard model and Feynman diagrams.


This book is really well written and I give it 10/10. I really recommend it to anybody who wants some introduction to particle physics because with all those analogies you will never be lost. I like how Sean also describes all those people around the great work and how all of this makes the whole picture and story behind “The Particle at the End of the Universe.”


Picture of Czech book
Picture of English book

The book review of: The Organized Mind
The book review of: On the Origin of Species

How does particle accelerator work?

so as I continue with the book I am reading right now about particle physics I will write about the basics behind particle accelerators.

There are several types of accelerators, they can be divided into groups by either the energy they can create or what kind of particles they are colliding, some accelerators even do not have this circle but they rather just hit some big target.

Inside accelerator you will surely have some great detector which is going to collect the data for you. In Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in CERN there are two main detectors: ATLAS and CMS. There are two so you can compare their results.

Those detectors are huge, ATLAS has 21 meters in diameter.
Then there is the tube in which you have got those particles running. In LHC there are protons in both direction. Those protons are taken from little bottle with hydrogen, this bottle would serve for billions of years because there are 10^27 particles inside.

When you take these particles you will speed them up. The particles in LHC those are protons are separated to groups. Between each group is seven meters of vacuum. In each of those clouds of protons are 100 billions of protons. This cloud can get thin as 1% of millimeter right before collision.

Protons are all positively charged so it is hard to keep them in the cloud. Because of their charge, you can speed them up using magnets. To get the top speed you have to use extremely strong magnets, which means electromagnets [1]. Those magnets will speed the particles to 99.999996% of speed of light, so obviously that is where theory of relativity comes to role, for example those particles are not spheres but rather pies because of their huge speeds — effects of relativity.

After you speed up those particles you are going to collide them. This happens at the detectors which are going to measure all the stuff that is flying away from the collision. You may identify particles by their direction of traveling, by this you may know their charge. Also how deep they were able to fly. Mions for example have longer life times than most other particles so they are able to fly through the accelerator, while bosons w and z or tauon have such a low life time that they wont fly very far and most of the time you are going to observe their products rather that those particles alone.


[1] Electromagnets are magnets powered by electricity because when you have electricity, it creates (electro)magnetic field. This gets stronger the stronger is the current. In particle accelerators it can get so strong that the magnets would melt at a moment because of friction with electrons, that is why they must be cooled to little over absolute zero, using liquid helium.

Only picture

Superconducting Super Collider

so yesterday I was in Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, because of some serious business. When I was waiting on the train station I went to bookstore there and bought really cool book, it is called The Particle at the End of the Universe, by Sean Carroll (By this particle author means Higgs boson). So, I already read 80 pages and now I want to make post about Superconducting Super Collider or SSC.

This book is about Higgs boson, which is particle I will write about some other time. Anyway it was discovered in Large Hadron Collider but there is whole history of other particle accelerators before this one.
Today lets see why SSC was never build.

Ssc mdl.JPGThe most important thing about particle accelerators is their power they can create. LHC which is the strongest on the Earth right now is able to create force of 13 TeV (tera electron volts.) At the same time this may sound powerful and weak.

1 TeV is around the energy of flying mosquito. Well that does not sound like it is much but the other thing is that LHC is able to make 13 TeV and at the same time give this energy to only one proton. When LHC is active, there may be billions of protons flying with this energy, when you add it up it may be as much as the energy of whole locomotive.

But SSC was planned to be even stronger so that it would be able to reveal even more energetic things. It was planned to be about 40 TeV strong which is quite mind blowing.

In the year of 1987 president Reagan accepted the construction of SSC. Then the place to build it had to be found.
Such a place must be geologically inactive, there must be no floods and so on. Of course all most of the states (43) wanted to have it in their city. Finally place called Waxahachie in Texas was accepted as the most safe one (it is located bit south from Dallas).

It was planned to be 87 kilometers long and activated in the year of 1996. First it was thought that it would cost 4.4 billions of dollars, but soon afterward the price rose to 12 billions of dollars. At the same time huge project needed money: ISS (50 billions of dollars, later it rose to over 100 billions of dollars).

When there were 2 billions already invested, it was decided that it was not worth it. Reasons for this were that it was poorly leaded, with prices that were underestimated all the time and so on.

This had some serious causes, like lots of particle physicists were without work. The area was then sold to guy who wanted to create super protected area for computer data, but he fell on the ice and died. Luckily USA decided that they will donate some money to LHC (particle accelerator in CERN) which was activated in the year of 2008.


1st picture