Jan 30, 2020dixithanoop rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
When I started reading the book, I thought it was too descriptive, in that it delved too deep into practically unknown history of sub-atomic particles. But by the time I had reached the third chapter, I knew this book told the most captivating story I've read in this year so far! And it took me only a few more nights to savor the entirety of the book!
An intriguing note about how this book was written made me even more invested in it. The book was published right after Higgs Boson was confirmed experimentally by CERN, but the writing itself was happening for many years, the author just being waiting for the actual discovery to publish it. Apparently, [sic] "the author Jim Baggott's idea was to start writing the book, get about 95% done, and then, when the discovery was announced, he would be able to finish the last 5% and the book would be on the shelves very soon after the announcement.Throughout 2011 and 2012 he kept updating the book, leaving the last 1,500 words unsaid. He watched CERN's live webcast announce the discovery of the boson on 4 July and finished writing the book the next day."
I found that fascinating both from the business standpoint and from the angle of Science story-telling.
Coming to the book itself, it traces the history and associated riveting stories of ups-and-downs in the evolution of Standard model of sub-atomic particles, all of which finally culminate in the experimental discovery of Higgs Boson. I liked how the author has divided the book into two parts - 'invention' and 'discovery', to highlight the theoretical prediction and experimental confirmation parts of it.
The book is way too technical (no equations and formulae though) but still reads like a novella than a textbook, and writing one such is an art. Brimming with curious facts about genius particle physicists, and even their struggle in pursuing the smallest of small particles, the book had so many underline-able sections. Facts like women's bodies actually become more symmetrical in the 24 hours prior to ovulation as a natural consequence of nature and our perception of beauty loving symmetry; the "Oh-My-God" particle, which is probably the particle equivalent of the "Wow Signal"; the funny story of Veltman jumping in the elevator and pressing the button immediately so that the elevator is under the weight-limit; are just a few things that make the book a joyous ride for the curious reader.
I did feel like some of the really interesting and important things have been mentioned under '*'s at the bottom of the page, but that doesn't take away any credit from the ideas presented in the crux of the book.
If you're interested in things like particle accelerators, quarks, SuperSymmetry etc, it's likely that you'd read it twice if you happen to pick up this book.