Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe

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Understanding the Universe: From Quarks to the Cosmos is Lincoln’s first book and provides a broad survey of particle physics and cosmology.  It is an absolute “must read” for the casual student of the physics frontier.

UNDERSTANDING THE UNIVERSE:

FROM QUARKS TO THE COSMOS

The study of the nature of nature is an old and respectable endeavor, beginning no doubt in deep prehistory, but first recorded by the ancient Greeks, 2,500 years ago.

In Lincoln’s 2004 book, Understanding the Universe, he broadly surveys the entire body of knowledge of the subatomic world.  This is an ambitious endeavor and he covers it in a mere nine chapters.

1. The history of the study of matter, stopping around 1890.

2. The modern history of the study of matter, going from 1890 through 1964.  This briefly covers the discovery of the nuclear atom, the proton, neutron and electron and the vast zoo of particles discovered in early particle accelerators.

3. Describes the smallest constituents of matter currently known, the quarks (contained inside protons and neutrons) and the leptons (of which the electron is the most familiar.)

4. Describes the four known forces (gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force).  It also clearly introduces Feynman diagrams and why they’re interesting.

5. An explanation of the mysterious Higgs boson and its role in giving particles their mass.

6. A description of particle accelerator and detector principles, along with clear explanations of how these complex engineering marvels actually work.

7. This chapter gives a list of “near term mysteries,” which is to say mysteries that may be unraveled on a timescale of a decade or so.

8. Longer-term mysteries, but ones that will engage scientists for years to come.

9. The rich linkages between particle physics and the birth and death of the universe itself.

Understanding the Universe is a clear explanation of fundamental mysteries as old as mankind itself.

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