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The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics
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The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  444 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
For fans of Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking, a guide to the most important theory in modern physics, in a tour de force of science writing There are two scientific theories that, taken together, explain the entire universe. The first, which describes the force of gravity, is widely known: Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. But the theory that explains everything els ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published September 26th 2006 by Plume Books (first published 2005)
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Roy Lotz
Aug 19, 2015 Roy Lotz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really a rare treat. How often can you find a lucid and compelling explanation of perhaps the greatest scientific achievement in history packed into less than 300 pages? Oerter has done a fine thing. In fact, I find it rather remarkable, really, when I reflect that he includes the history of the major discoveries and theoretical advances, as well as surprisingly nuanced discussions of QED, QCD, and Feynman diagrams (among much else), ultimately managing to take the reader from Newto ...more
Dec 30, 2014 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to understand particle physics and isn't already an expert

Casting around for a good way to explain what an excellent book this is, I realize that I can say it very concisely: in an approachable but still quite responsible manner, it tells you everything you need to know about the Standard Model of Particle Physics to be able to understand the equation on the famous CERN T-shirt.

Well, that was my best shot. If you aren't convinced now, you never will be.
Jun 07, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Oerter's ambitious book leads the reader conceptually through the modern physics of the Standard Model, from its historical antecedents in Newton and Maxwell to the current state of knowledge. As expected in any brief account of this nature, depending upon the background the reader brings to this book, he or she might find some areas provide enough information, while other areas leave the reader wanting more detail. For me, the sections up through and including quantum electrodynamics (QE ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-medicine
There are dozens of books out there about dark holes, string theory, chaos theory and what have you. But it's hard to find a book about the Standard Model, even though it is probably the most comprehensive theory at the universe available right now. This book takes the reader from the beginning of Einstein's thinking about spacetime through the 20th century up to the experiments that were ongoing at the time the book was written (2006). That means, for instance, that the Higgs boson was not yet ...more
Jan 25, 2011 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Good for what it is. I read so many of these general audience science texts, I wish there was a third category, somewhere between "I've never heard of relativity" and "Yes, I do have a PhD in physics."
An Unloved Model of the Universe

Would you name your newborn baby “The Standard Child”? Even the founders of “The Standard Model” not seem to especially love this very successful theory of the fundamental forces of nature. In their words, it was “repulsive” and that “It was such an extraordinarily ad hoc and ugly theory that it was clearly nonsense.” Robert Oerter walks us through the theory to show us its beauty and accomplishments, along with its problems. He does this mainly with words and dia
May 04, 2013 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Score: 3.5/5

Mixed feelings on this book. I picked it up for obvious reasons---who wouldn't want a casual introduction to the standard model?

Author Robert Oerter tries to write this book in an accessible way, but as you might expect, managing the line between accessibility and rigor in a book on particle physics is tricky, and some parts of the book are better than others.

Early on, when building up some early historical context, Oerter shows you Schrödinger's wave equation ("Just to show you what
Mar 14, 2014 Balhau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well.. This is a very well written book. I decided begin to read this work of Oerter because I was very much interested in a very unkown (to me) part of the physics. It was a mixed surprise. Mr Oerter is a very lucid man, he write in a very straightforward and clear way. It is assertive and imaginative explaining the not so intuitive results. Writting style aside I must confess that the content was not so pleasant at all. The modern theories are very difficult to prove by recurring to evidence a ...more
Greg Meyer
Sep 06, 2009 Greg Meyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book, it really is brilliant. He shows that the standard model is actually a brilliant accomplishment of dial turning. However, it is still flawed, as he even admits himself.
Vicky Chijwani
Recommended for: people who love abstract things and would like to get up to speed on the latest (well, almost) physics.

Reading this book raises interesting philosophical questions in my mind: is the layman of the future doomed to encounter increasingly dry, mathematical theories about the nature of reality, with the march of science? It certainly seems so. Is reality, at bottom, just math? I sure hope not.

Turns out modern particle physics is just not at all captivating, unlike 20th century phys
Dr M
Sep 22, 2007 Dr M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Physicists, those with an interest in science
Shelves: popular-science
The Theory of Almost Everything is the story of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. The title is a pun on the expression "Theory of Everything", the theoretical physicist's wet dream of a unified theory of all the fundamental constituents and interactions of matter, and Oerter seeks to explain how the elementary particle physics of the 20th century has almost achieved this, except "only" for questions concerning gravity. Oerter does this very well indeed. In fact, I must say that ...more
Apr 25, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very nice overview of the "Standard Model" of physics, namely the current theory encompassing all the known particles of physics -- electrons, protons, neutrons, positrons, muons, neutrinos, gluons, the hypotheticized Higgs bosons, etc -- plus all the known interactions and forces, save only gravitation. Oerter argues (and I am inclined to agree with him) that the Standard Model is, perhaps, "the pinnacle of human intellectual achievement to date."

Unlike many semi-popular works on scie
Apr 14, 2013 Tassos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I am not an expert on the field, my knowledge about relativity and quantum theory was limited before this book. Thus, when I wanted to get a little more deep into understanding what is happening 'down' there, I started looking for a good book to read. Now, after reading this book, I feel lucky with the choice I've made.

A very easy to read book that takes things from the very beginning and explaining how physicists ended up with what we have now. More over, enough details are given on each step,
Apr 30, 2013 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
This is a very good book that aims to give an overview on the standard model of particle physics. A somewhat charming thing is that Oerter shows concern that the Higgs boson had not yet been discovered which would make or break the theory and since the book was written the Higgs boson particle has indeed been discovered. I would have liked to see more references supporting the books claims, mostly it relies on a few book for the whole chapter but few are specific or are first hand sources. It al ...more
Once again, another book that was an amazing read right up to the part about string theory. Though this particular book was twenty years old, which was right around the time of the rebirth of interest in string theory, so I guess I can't really get too upset.

All of that having been said, it was an excellent primer to the intricacies of the Standard Model, which is so often skimmed over in popular science and physics books. Definitely give it a read; just keep in mind that we 1) have official dis
Feb 17, 2016 Michal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oerter takes upon himself a grand task of making the Standard Model more understandable for general public. I think he is successful in this undertaking.

The book is written in a clear language with an avoidance of jargon, which makes it accessible. Even though I was familiar with majority of ideas presented, the amount of information contained in this book, particularly regarding particle decays, is sometimes overwhelming.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in modern physics. There is m
Feb 24, 2013 Devero rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un buon libro divulgativo sullo stato della Teoria del Modello Standard com'era nel 2005.
Viene descritta come la teoria che da le migliori previsioni verificabili sperimentalmente e il lavoro fatto al CERN di Ginevra, culminato l'anno scorso con la probabile produzione del bosone di Higgs è una ulteriore conferma di questo fatto.
Per tutti coloro che ne vogliono sapere di più sulla fisica delle particelle.
Ad ogni modo, se siete digiuni dell'argomento, vi risulterà abbastanza ostico; le nozioni di
Lee Belbin
Pretty well written introduction to the quantum view of small things. While I studied this many years ago, this was a good introduction to the weird world of quantum mechanics. I think it could have been a lot more concise however - I reckon the guts of it could have been done in 50%. I liked the historical perspectives the most. If you don't know about the non intuitive (non Newtonian) quirks of very small things (atoms and below), this is a fair place to start. Fact is stranger than fiction he ...more
Chunyang Ding
Aug 17, 2012 Chunyang Ding rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book for beginners in modern physics. I read this book at a summer camp for the frontiers of physics, and the book was able to clarify confusing topics we covered in lecture. It is, of course, rather simplistic, and isn't particularly deep in the math or technical details of the standard model. Instead, it gives the reader a taste of what is currently known and how much is left for us to discover!
Tom Ritman-Meer
Aug 11, 2016 Tom Ritman-Meer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and quirky introduction to particle physics. I feel far better acquainted with the Standard Model now and it was at the right level to be challenging to a person with technical knowledge without alienating them. It has sufficiently stimulated my interest in elementary particles to explore further.
Bill Jackman
Someone asked me what the Higgs Boson is, and I didn't know. (Hide head in shame.) The standard model has supposedly been around for 40 years, (After I got out of college. I still had physics professors who had not studied quantum mechanics.) and I don't remember running into it. As is normal I will have to read more, before I will begin to really understand it.
Dec 16, 2014 Mpr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent introduction to the terrifyingly big world of particle physics. The only prerequisite is curiosity- everything is explained in a straightforward way, and a lot of tricky concepts are explained in an intuitive and visual way. Recommended to anyone interested, but if you have even an undergraduate level understanding of the math and physics required there might be better texts.
Karan Tyagi
Apr 01, 2012 Karan Tyagi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I was really confused with this book , because I thought it was gonna be about Philosophy, but it turns out its about Physics. I was recommended to read this book by a senior named Will Lynch. Over all I really liked reading this book. It was kind of hard to keep up with it cause i knew nothing about physics, but now i kind if have a little knowledge about this subject.
Amit Srivastava
This is a good book overall, to understand the standard model. Does get a little technical at time, but if you stay with it, not very difficult to understand. Not meant for passive reading. Could have been a little lighter for popular science readers.
Jul 16, 2008 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another Physics book for the non-physicist. Very interesting and not heavy on math. Of course, physics can't be completely grasped without the math so someone with a good math background would probably prefer something more technical. This was at my level, though.
Sean Grealis
Mar 16, 2013 Sean Grealis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a really well done explanation of the history of quantum physics over the last century or so. the explanations are done in a way that you don't need a PhD in physics to understand them but not so dumbed down to lose their meaning.
Ryan Cutter
Aug 07, 2014 Ryan Cutter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciencey-stuff
A very good insight into the standard model. This book is a little outdated now, but I would recommend it as a lot of ideas are conveyed in an easy and insightful way
May 23, 2009 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots and lots of physics, mostly particle and quantum stuff that I remember. When I was reading it, so very much of it made sense.
Feb 08, 2008 Dsanford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still working on it - trying to understand the standard model better - can't move beyond it, until you understand it
Edgar rated it it was amazing
May 15, 2009
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Just started reading this excellent book 1 2 Apr 09, 2015 08:02PM  
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