Thursday 17 May 2012

Book Review: "Higgs Force" by Nicholas Mee

Not as advertised.

Having said that I enjoyed the book.

The first third of the book was a ho-hum of "how we got here" starting from Greece to the "Revolution of 1974." Nothing new. History familiar for anyone with a passing interest in HEP.

The middle of the book was very interesting providing elucidation and graphics describing Feynman diagrams, QED and QCD.

Learnt a lot here, but curiously kept noticing the use of the phrase "time represented vertically" with respect to Feynman diagrams where obviously certain particles where traveling "south" so to speak.

No discussion or mention of that. Time? Who ordered that? (in-joke. sorry)

No detail regarding exactly how force carriers mediate "force" either. Except in a nucleus where gluon interactions are described very well. But I felt Brian Cox did it better describing standing waves.

Then. Then! THEN! Peter Higgs is mentioned. On page 230. In a 300 page book.

Then dropped.

Only re-appearing around page 278 when a breathlessly exciting description of the ATLAS detector is provided.

Seriously. CERN has a website. If I wanted to know the internals of that specific detector I didn't need to read 20 pages of excitable description and pictures. I've been to the site. Multiple times. 20 pages?

Page 279. "The Signature of the Higgs" Page 279? Seriously?

Having said all that, it was an enjoyable read. But seriously. Higgs Force mentioned only briefly at the end of the book. And a thin description it is I might add. Could be summed up as "treacle that imparts mass." Wait. What?

If you want to know what the Higgs particle (was, might be, is), or what the field is, don't bother. If you want to have a fascinating account of the lead-up to the most fantastic, most stupendously complex machine ever built on this planet, then read it.

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