Scientists have just announced an historic discovery on a par with the splitting of the atom: the Higgs boson, the key to understanding why mass exists has been found. In The Particle at the End of the Universe, Caltech physicist and acclaimed writer Sean Carroll takes readers behind the scenes of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to meet the scientists and explain this landmark event.
The Higgs boson is the particle that more than six thousand scientists have been looking for using the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator, which lies in a tunnel 17 miles in circumference, as deep as 575 feet beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It took ten years to build and this search has now cost over $9 billion and required the collaboration of engineers from more than one hundred countries.
What is so special about the Higgs boson? We didn’t really know for sure if anything at the subatomic level had any mass at all until we found it. The fact is, while we have now essentially solved the mass puzzle, there are things we didn’t predict and possibilities we haven’t yet dreamed. A doorway is opening into the mind boggling, somewhat frightening world of dark matter. We only discovered the electron just over a hundred years ago and considering where that took us—from nuclear energy to quantum computing–the inventions that will result from the Higgs discovery will be world-changing.
The Particle at the End of the Universe not only explains the importance of the Higgs boson but also the Large Hadron Collider project itself. Projects this big don’t happen without a certain amount of conniving, dealing, and occasional skullduggery— and Sean Carroll explores it all. This is an irresistible story (including characters now set to win the Nobel Prize among other glories) about the greatest scientific achievement of our time.Biography Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, specializing in cosmology, gravitation, field theory, and quantum mechanics. His research addresses the foundations of cosmology: What happened at the very beginning of the universe? Why was entropy low near the Big Bang? Is there an interpretation of quantum mechanics that applies to the universe as a whole? What are the dark matter and dark energy that dominate the universe today? How do complex structures evolve over time?
Carroll has been blogging regularly since 2004. His textbook “Spacetime and Geometry” has been adopted by a number of universities for their graduate courses in general relativity. He is a frequent public speaker, and has appeared on TV shows, such as The Colbert Report and Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. He has produced a set of lectures for The Teaching Company on dark matter and dark energy, and another on the nature of time. He has served as a science consultant for films such as Thor and TRON: Legacy, as well as for TV shows such as Fringe and Bones. His 2010 popular book, “From Eternity to Here,” explained the arrow of time and connected it with the origin of our universe.
“The Particle at the End of the Universe,” about the Large Hadron Collider and the quest to discover the Higgs boson, was released November 2012. A TV special for NOVA on PBS, based in part on the book, is currently in development. Look for that in 2013.
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Sean Carroll – The Particle at the End of the Universe
Published on Jan 18, 2013
It was the universe’s most elusive particle, the linchpin for everything scientists dreamed up to explain how stuff works. It had to be found. But projects as big as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider don’t happen without dealing and conniving, incredible risks and occasional skullduggery.
Award-winning physicist and science popularizer Sean Carroll reveals the history-making forces of insight, rivalry, and wonder that fuelled the Higgs search and how its discovery opens a door into the mind-boggling domain of dark matter and other phenomena we never predicted.
Sean Carroll – The Particle at the End of the Universe: Q & A
Following his talk at the Ri, theoretical physicist Sean Carroll takes questions from a packed audience in the famous Faraday Theatre. Chaired by science journalist, Alok Jha.
Sean Carroll Interview – Beyond the Higgs Boson
We caught up with theoretical physicist Sean Carroll to find out why the discovery of the Higgs Boson was such a major breakthrough and what it means for scientists and our conception of reality. Emphasising the importance of fields in particle physics, Sean explores what’s in store next at the Large Hadron Collider and discusses and what exactly physicists mean when they refer to ‘symmetry’.
We ask him what could lie beyond the Higgs and if it is worth spending over $10 billion to find out. Watch Sean Carroll present his talk on ‘The Particle at the End of the Universe’