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The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World
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The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World

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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,792 ratings  ·  184 reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Dutton Books (first published 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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brian
Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere". I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part... What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is ...more
Szplug
Without the Higgs Boson throwing its weight around, we'd all resemble mucoid strings of unpalatable jello. Or more so.

I have desperately wanted to put together a review that, in compartmentalized but orderly fashion, connects the various utterly absorbing stories which Carroll is telling in this highly-recommended book about the discovery of the elusive Higgs Boson on July 4th, 2012, at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland; a review wherein the politics, personalities, costs, designs
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David
Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist, and he has written an engaging book about the history of the search for the Higgs boson. This is a fundamental particle that cannot be observed directly, but can only be surmised by indirect evidence in a high-energy accelerator. Its existence was proved by two experiments at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN, on the border between Switzerland and France.

Sean Carroll tells the story of the LHC wonderfully. He tells the story of the predecessors to L
...more
Nikki
I know I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately; yet another example of my whims, I think. There’s a few more physics books on my list to get to, too, though I might give them a bit of a rest right now. The problem with me reviewing all of these is, of course, that I wouldn’t know a Higgs boson if it came up and introduced itself. All I can say is how well I understand what the writers offer. In Sean Carroll’s case, I felt my understanding was pretty good: the chapters are relatively short ...more
Roger
If the definition of understanding a subject is being able to summarise it in your own words for the benefit of someone else then I admit failure. Whilst I learnt a lot from this book there was still much that I couldn't fully comprehend. Nevertheless, I doubt that any other author could explain the concept of the Higgs field and Higgs boson in a better way than Sean Carroll. He has a talent for putting across difficult ideas in a way that non-specialists can follow. Yet even he, at least as far ...more
Diane Henry
Actually 4.5 star, but I love this book. There doesn't seem to be a quick easy way to describe what the Higgs boson is, what it does and why we should care. Carroll carefully and methodically takes the reader through each of these and I, a person with no physics background, am actually learning and understanding about particle physics (at a layperson level, obviously). I think I need to read it a second time to really solidify my understanding, but I've learned tons on just this first reading.
N
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Joan
This really would be more of a 4.5 but since the lack is in me, I don't think it is fair to pull down the rating of the book. I keep reading science books in hopes of eventually understanding this stuff. It is absolutely fascinating! I do wish I had more of a brain for understanding science! It is really some of the most fascinating things in the world! In any case, on to this specific title.

From comments in the book I am positive that the obvious allusion in the title is there on purpose. He di
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Tony
THE PARTICLE AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads us to the Edge of a New World. (2012). Sean Carroll. ****.
This book is a primer on particle physics, although it dips deeply into some aspects of the subject. My education was in chemistry and I had my fair share of physics courses, but the area covered by this book was mostly discovered after I had graduated, so I am continually reading books of this sort to try and catch up with the technology. The focus of the boo
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Cassandra Kay Silva
Grats everyone we found the Higgs! Our money wasn't wasted, and we will continue to learn from the data gathered at the LHC for a long time. The author takes a look at the pioneering work that went into the building of the accelerators and the scientific work of those leading up to this finding and what it will mean for us in the long term. I read this back to back with Lee Smolins work "the trouble with physic". I find this an interesting companion to this work and highly advise to read the two ...more
Chelsea Nash
I've been knee deep in popular physics books over the past year, and I am glad to find each new book bringing something fresh to the table. This book is especially good at introducing the experiments being run to find the Higgs (and other particles.) Also, this author had a lighter touch with the political side of funding Big Science than some others I've recently read, which ended up being more convincing to me. It's a nice complement to Lisa Randall's books and I was glad to find it did not re ...more
Gary
This was not an easy book to understand and the particle zoo plays a large role in the discussion and often I would lose my way only because the material is sometimes hard to follow, but the book covers everything you always wanted to know about the Higgs Boson and its field, but were afraid to ask.

I absolutely loved the author's previous book, "From Eternity to Here", and couldn't wait for this book. He's such a good writer and explains better than almost anyone. There are enough good parts in
...more
Tasha
There was one chapter I didn't understand a single paragraph of, and another that sometimes gave me the "I'm lost" feeling. Though overall there is plenty for the uninitiated science geek like me to sink their teeth into.
Христо Блажев
На лов за елементарни частици: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/c...

В последно време излязоха доста книги за Космоса (примерно класиката “Бледа синя точица” на Сейгън и знаковата “Вселена от нищото” на Краус), но “Частица на края на Вселената” гледа в другата посока – към безкрайно малките тухлички на реалността. Там, където всякакви шантаво звучащи теории се сблъскват с реалността на експерименталните данни, пречупват се в нещо още по-шантаво – и се оказва, че много абсурдни на пръв поглед и
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Daniel Shawen
An excellent read. It has details about the LHC and the discovery of the Higgs boson that cannot be found anywhere else.

Sean is the one whom, after the discovery quipped: "We can't call it the god particle anymore because it actually exists."

Indeed it does. The Higgs is the first scalar particle ever discovered and 'completes' the so-called Standard Model. The Standard Model is a mathematical construct that purports through various techniques to relate the strong nuclear force and the electrowea
...more
Jim
My first thought after reading this book is if any person that is, has, or will be is interested in life they must read this. Then of course I rethought it and realized this is a book that is for those who are interested in the very essence of life and not just existing. I am sure we have all heard of the massive collider built is Switzerland that scientists believe will open some thoughts or visions on the big bang theory. You can accompany the author at the discovery of the Higgs Boson, this p ...more
Pammie
I'd give this book more than 2 stars if there was a "HUH???" category. The writing was interesting and engaging, he told a lot of fascinating anecdotes, but it just doesn't counter the fact that I still don't understand what is going on with the Higgs boson. If I read this book two or three more times along some sort of Particle Physics for Dummies I might have a better handle on this stuff. Right now I still couldn't really answer the question of what the Higgs boson is, but that is not Carroll ...more
Nicholas
Nov 21, 2012 Nicholas rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: congress, people who want to know what this Higgs thing is all about (certain parts anyway)
Shelves: science
(Reviewers Note: 3 stars for me personally because it felt more like a recap of things I've already learned, but when I think about it as a recommendation for a different type of audience, the less scientifically initiated, the rating goes up significantly to 4-5 stars. If the world of particle physics is completely new to you, this is a 5-star book and the place you should FIRST read about the Higgs. If you've got some physics training and are a blog-junky, read for the history of the project, ...more
Brenton
This is a good but difficult read if you're interested in discovering more about particle physics and particle accelerators especially CERN. It's probably not the best first book to read on the subject, but it was my first, and I managed to comprehend several concepts. I was especially curious to learn that most physicists detest the so-called search for the "God particle." They are not all necessarily engaged in an atheistic cosmological quest. The term "God particle" owes its popularity to jou ...more
Matt
This book is a great continuing conversation for anyone who got sucked into Stephen Hawking's "Brief History of Time" back in the day, and came away from that one with an interest in the Standard Model of particle physics. This one is less accessible-more nuts and bolts than Hawking's style, with less scientific philosophy and creative metaphor to help the lay reader to really understand. Also: the book deals with one of the most interesting machines built in human history, but wastes most of th ...more
Greg
While I have been aware (in a layperson's way) of the construction of the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs particle for quite a while, this book fills in the details very well and from multiple perspectives. To choose just a few: 1) I always appreciate science books that reach beyond the genius scientists themselves and take note of the complimentary contribution of others in supporting roles. Here, the author provides a narrative of the design, construction, testing, start-up, ...more
José Monico
This had been sitting on my bookshelf for about a year. Prior to the release of this book, I had followed consistently the news surrounding the Higgs particle. So I definitely knew what I was coming into.

However I am quite surprised at how engaging, and welcoming Carroll portrays not only the daunting task of wrapping your head around particle physics, but the cracks and crevices of what the Higgs findings entail. The ability to simplify such high-level knowledge into everyday language is a tal
...more
Yasser Mohammad
The book is engaging and easy to follow (standard Carroll), yet I think that Carroll wasted a chance to delve a little bit more into the specifics of Quantum Field Theory which is admittedly a very difficult subject to write about for general audience. Nevertheless, someone has to start and I believe Carroll is one of the best qualified to do that.
It is revealing to contrast Carroll's statement that: "reality consists of fields that appear to us as particles when we look up close" with Faymann's
...more
Lenny
Quantum mechanics isn't my area of expertise, but Sean Carroll does a wonderful job in summing up the work being done by the CERN team at the Large Hadron Collider (ATLAS and CMS locations alike) while also taking his audience to the edge of Higgs possibilities by exploring research being preformed. A huge portion of this books goes to the understanding of particle physics and general background on Quantum discovery.

The underlying reason why this book gets 5 stars is because of Carroll's drive
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Francisco Battiti
Sean Carroll does a great job at introducing somewhat complicated ideas and concepts in a simple and understandable fashion; great for anyone curious but with no technical background.

The book's main focus regards the search of the Higgs Boson, from the scientific part of the process to the political. He also takes the time to introduce the standard model and the characteristics of the elementary particles as well as introducing ideas such as Symetries and Supersymetries, the four kinds of forces
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Hugh Mannfield
The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean M. Carroll.

The Higgs Boson?

In this book, Sean Carroll tells the story of the building and operation of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in the search for the Higgs boson. He also explains the standard model and attempts to explain what the Higgs boson is and why it was worth 9 billion dollars to find it. I say attempts because after reading the entire book, including all appendixes, I can’t say I fully understand it. This is not because Sean has fai
...more
Molly Gum
This book made quantum field theory and particle physics more accessible and simple to understand than any other book I've read. I am relatively new to quantum physics, but I've read quite a few books in my quest to develop a deep understanding of the subject. After reading this book, some of the most complex ideas finally clicked for me. It definitely helped to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals before-hand, but the book is still written in a way that will be meaningful to those wit ...more
Manoj Chacko
Wow! loved the way the book was presented and how it not only unravels the mystery of the standard model of particle physics but also drops some hints on the competitive spirit and dynamics between the scientists and a bits of their functioning as well. Makes me wonder if the trend toward a collaborative multi-country project like the CERN will eventually dilute this fighting spirit, more so in this connected age its getting increasingly difficult to attribute some of these discoveries to specif ...more
Angela Powell
We all know about Higgs Boson. The story is over. Now, we are looking for something new, something fresh from the oven, which is beyond the Higgs Boson field. Definitely, Higgs Boson is the end of an old chapter.
Carroll tried to open a new chapter with an interesting outlook. Carroll tells the story of the particle in very easy way, so that everyone can understand that.
Derek Daigle
I thought I understood Particle Physics before this book; turns out I was wrong. This book taught me a LOT. Even my understanding of the 'Standard Model' of Particles is absolutely polished up; now able to distinguish between fermions and bosons, the workings of the LHC in its entirety and its history, the mechanics of Neutron Decay and the process of Quark/Spin conservation and, amongst a lot of other things, what the bloody hell fuss is about this legendary 'Higgs Boson'. Spolier; It has been ...more
Sara
If you read enough "popular science" books, they start to run together a little bit. Certain things crop up time and again because the author must make allowances for the lay reader who is discovering certain concepts for the first time. The best ones take something you might have read about five or six times already and suddenly make it crystal clear. Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos, for example, finally made it possible for me to conceptualize how time really is a fourth dimension and slow ...more
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Science and Inquiry: November 2013 - Particle at the End of the Universe 29 101 Dec 31, 2013 05:31AM  
Higgs ? 2 23 Mar 19, 2013 01:29PM  
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Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993. His research focuses on issues in cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. He blogs at Cosmic Variance, one of the most popular science blogs on the Web. Carroll lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Jennifer Ouellette."
More about Sean Carroll...
From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time The Higgs Boson and Beyond Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe (The Great Courses)

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“We are part of the universe that has developed a remarkable ability: We can hold an image of the world in our minds. We are matter contemplating itself.” 15 likes
“At heart, science is the quest for awesome - the literal awe that you feel when you understand something profound for the first time. It's a feeling we are all born with, although it often gets lost as we grow up and more mundane concerns take over our lives.” 5 likes
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