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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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,535 ratings  ·  291 reviews
It was the universe’s most elusive particle, the linchpin for everything scientists dreamed up to explain how physics works. It had to be found. But projects as big as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider don’t happen without incredible risks – and occasional skullduggery. In the definitive account of this landmark event, Caltech physicist and acclaimed science writer Sean Carroll ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Dutton (first published November 1st 2012)
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Brian Maybe not a perfect fit (I'm not a scientist so may be making classification errors), but Carlo Rovelli's book "Reality Is Not What It Seems" on quant…moreMaybe not a perfect fit (I'm not a scientist so may be making classification errors), but Carlo Rovelli's book "Reality Is Not What It Seems" on quantum gravity may be of interest. It's written like a Sean Carroll/Brian Greene sort of book and I think well done.(less)

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Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Plato’s Revenge

The Standard Model of Particle Physics, the technology of high-energy accelerators, the politics of Big Physics, and the personalities of the Biggest Scientists are the diverse subjects of Sean Carroll’s history of this fundamental but peculiar slice of science. Fundamental because it claims to be searching for the ultimate components of the universe. Peculiar because so much of what it has found about these components is counter-intuitive and frequently beyond imagination.

As in
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
Carroll tells us about the discovery of the Higgs boson and the importance of the underlying Higgs field to the Standard Model of particle physics. He describes the Large Hadron Collider, how it works, how it was used to find the Higgs boson and why this was so difficult. He imparts a bit of drama describing some of the key people involved and the excitement of the physics community at seeing an enormous amount of work come to fruition in 2012 at CERN. The Higgs had been theorized years earlier ...more
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Paul E. Morph
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The library sent me this one as part of their ‘free audiobooks for the sight impaired’ scheme (that’s not what it’s called but I can’t be bothered to look it up) and I’m so happy they did because I absolutely loved it.

Sean Carroll writes well, conversationally, enthusiastically and with a liberal helping of humour (but not too many gags, thankfully). His greatest strength for me, though, is his way with an analogy. He really knows how to explain things to the semi-educated layman (like me).

If yo
Jose Moa
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, physics
Each book about the standard model has its own personality,this one aside to rather briefly describing the model is more centered in tell the history of discovery of the Higgs boson announced by the CERN in July of 2012 and the histhory of the differen particle accelerators and its incerasing energies,Tevatron,SLAC,RHIC and others,but specially the Large Hadron Collider ruled by the CERN and the new physics that posibly this accelerator can open a door to,also tells the histhory of the failed by ...more
Kuhajeyan Gunaratnam
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is fields as far the science can get to now, particles are vibrations in those fields - mass & force carrying particles. We have a conjured up standard model proves to be correct, and completes along with the finding of Higgs boson.

It is an appreciable work from Carroll, that does well to instigate curiosity in particle physics. Details journey how CERN came got build and along the works done in Fermilab are good to know. Probably the Ligos' findings got late before the release of book, so n
Jun 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Cassandra Kay Silva
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
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
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sean Carroll effectively communicates his knowledge and enthusiasm about the search and discovery of the Higgs boson. After reading this book a person can explain the significance of the discovery and share in the excitement of the collective accomplishment. In addition, the exposure to Carroll's scientific mind, equal parts skepticism and wonder, is time well spent.

Carroll is willing to speak in declarative sentences, not a lot of hedging here.

"Matter is really waves (quantum fields and paren
Ami Iida
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: astronomy, physics
I finish reading the book.
last chapter it is written "Dark Matter" in it.
Higgs Boson and LHC are written in detail in it.
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: science lovers
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
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
The Higgs boson. Key to understanding why mass exists and how atoms are possible, this elusive particle has finally been found after $9 billion, decades of effort, and the work of over six thousand researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. In 2012, the history of a quest that began with the atomists of ancient Greece over 2,500 years ago reached a dramatic and historic turning point.

Caltech physicist and acclaimed writer Sean Carroll takes readers behind the scenes of the Large Ha
Chelsea Nash
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cosmology, physics
I find cosmology a fascinating topic and got some exposure to particle physics during my cosmology-related prior reads. Articles caught my attention in 2012 about the breakthrough in the quest for the Higgs boson - also called in sensational newspapers the ‘God Particle’ but I did not get to the bottom of the story then. Now decided to pick up this book to gain a better understanding of this intriguing Higgs field / boson phenomenon.

All themes in the book relate to particle physics in a way but
Ken Dilella
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
excellent book. Sean does a fantastic job of explaining the higgs, but you can't understand the higgs without first understanding quantum field theory and that's where this book shines. the last chapter he muses on the human experience with my all time favorite question, "we are matter contemplating itself, how did that happen?" Over all an excellent quantum mechanics book with the higgs as a bonus. Sean carroll is one of a kind.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
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.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mengsen Zhang
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have quite mixed feelings about this book. I would give 5 five stars for science communication, and 3 stars for too little physics to my taste. Re: science communication, one can feel that tremendous efforts were made to introduce complicated physical concepts to a general audience in intuitive ways. Most admirably, the author managed to convey, more accurately than a lot of scientists, what it means scientifically to "discover" Higgs Boson (or anything for that matter) -- what kind of theoret ...more
Brian Clegg
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
The possible discovery of the Higgs boson has prompted a flurry of books – in part because it’s significant (and because the Large Hadron Collider is a sexy bit of kit) and in part because the whole business of the Higgs field and its importance for the mass of particles is one of the most obscure and unlikely bits of physics in the current canon.

I have really mixed feelings about this entry in the genre from physicist Sean Carroll. It’s not because his book is too difficult to understand – it’s
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love physics and general science. My problem is that I suck at math (English major) and even general science books dealing with quantum physics and particle physics can get super ... number-y.

This book was written not long after the Large Hadron Collider in Bern, Switzerland, announced that they had finally seen the evidence of the Higgs Boson particle that had been predicted 50 years earlier. It is the most plain-English explanation of the so-called "God particle" I've read to date. Sean Carr
B.J. Richardson
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Sean Carroll writes an incredibly engaging book primarily on the Higgs Boson which was indirectly discovered in 2012 a very short time before this book first came out. While I preferred his work on cosmology (From Eternity to Here), I do believe he has made this work on particle physics as interesting to the man on the street as possible. He does a great job seasoning his work with practical analogies that make abstract ideas more concrete. I also like his ability to humanize many of his colleag ...more
Daniel Shawen
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Michel Meijer
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of the popular scientific books I own on theoretical physics. Being a chemist myself, I am looking for understanding beyond the common understanding (Higss boson gives mass), but not going into the mathematical difficulties of quantum dynamics and the like (let us normalize the mathematical framework). So I am looking for books matching this requirement. The Particle at the End of the Universe provided just that. It is an intriguing read on the history of particle physics, in particu ...more
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Science and Inquiry: November 2013 - Particle at the End of the Universe 29 104 Dec 31, 2013 05:31AM  
Higgs ? 2 24 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. His book The Particle at the End of the Universe won the prestigious Winton Prize for Science Books in 2013. Carroll lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Jennifer Ouellette.

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