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The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  3,330 ratings  ·  142 reviews
In this extraordinarily accessible and enormously witty book, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman guides us on a fascinating tour of the history of particle physics. The book takes us from the Greeks' earliest scientific observations through Einstein and beyond in an inspiring celebration of human curiosity. It ends with the quest for the Higgs boson, nicknamed ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 1st 1994 by Delta (first published 1993)
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Erdogan Cicek Richard Feynman is the master of this type..But if you want to learn more about the improvements on this topic you should read "Beyond God Particle"…moreRichard Feynman is the master of this type..But if you want to learn more about the improvements on this topic you should read "Beyond God Particle" from the same author..(less)

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4.13  · 
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 ·  3,330 ratings  ·  142 reviews


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retroj
Why am I reading a twenty year old popular physics book? The title alone would have been enough to make me steer clear — this label, god particle, for the Higgs boson, is just the kind of hype and misrepresentation that science does not need — I can't get behind that. Nevertheless... well, a friend gave me a copy of this book and said that it was one of his favorite books, so, yeah, that's why. Despite initial misgivings, I did eventually come to enjoy it. Despite some slow parts and some theore ...more
Jim
May 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Science fans, those who want to know more about particle physics, anyone with a lively mind.
A very lively, funny, and informative book by Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman. The first part of the book is a vivid and hilarious historical survey of ideas and discoveries in Western physics from the Greeks down to the present day. Having brought you as a reader step by step on this journey, Lederman then opens the door to his own utterly fascinating but little-understood speciality, particle physics. Lederman conveys with excitement and humor what it is like to be one of two or three people in t ...more
Nikhil Narain
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary book. Engrossing without being over simplistic and filled with wit and interesting anecdotes, The God Particle is a chronicle of the human intellectual endeavour to answer some of the Universe's most challenging questions. Lucidly written and inspiring, it is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in Physics.
Bob Nichols
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Lederman provides an entertaining history of physics and much of it is accessible to the general reader. Interestingly, he writes that it takes a grad student at least two years "to develop quantum intuition." This comment bolsters the confidence of the lay reader.

The book leads to the so-called God particle. What gives particles their mass, he asks, and then he answers that "we suspect a field." The Higgs field he writes later, generates all mass. As massless particles (light of various wave l
...more
Ellen
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a history of particle physics, it's pretty good. However, I still had to consult Wikipedia after I read it to find out what the Higgs field is (the point of the book was to tell the story of the quest to prove its existence, upon which all of particle theory rests...), And despite many references to God and Creation, Lederman is still a champion of making science more accessible to the general public. And there's this one great passage where he rips on "The Tao of Physics" and other pseudo-sc ...more
Almir Olovcic
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great piece of science book, hard to understand in moments, but overall funny, vivid and informing book. Would recommend to everyone interested in world around us and development of atom theory from Greeks to modern days.
Dallas
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book provides an interesting foray into the deep mechanisms of particle physics. Nicknamed 'The Plumber'(due to his preference for experimentation) by Murray Gell-Mann, it is clear from this book that Lederman's work in the 60s and 70s is nothing short of Nobel calibre. This book is fairly dense in terms of physics technicalities, but one can still appreciate the humorous anecdotes throughout.

As generally explained in the book, a neutrino ('little neutral one') is an elementary particle of
...more
Pablo
Jun 29, 2008 added it
I'm really interested in quantum physics (layman's quantum physics), particularly when using the discipline to try to gain a greater understanding of the very fabric of existence and how that begins to approach spirituality. In theory, God Particle has the recipe to satisy this penchant, but I cannot get past Lederman's hokey methods e.g. fabricating a conversation with a Greek philosopher that is supposed to be funny but is actually as entertaining as watching a silent film without picture. Led ...more
Alain
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's not an easy reading, but Leon Ledderman is a fabulous and funny story teller. He brings to the layman understanding of rhe profound laws that govern the universe. I can't say I got it all, but I surely feel like I understand a bit more what's going on in the world of the very very very small.

30 years ago we thought the atom was the final frontier but today with the quarks and the leptons and the gluons and now Higgs boson the cosmos shows us that there are a lot of strange things going on r
...more
Katie Curry
I would not describe Lederman as a Feynman by any means but he is comparable to Simon Singh by way of Brain Green, though I prefer Singh's work simply due to the absence of obnoxious puns and over the top attempts at some form of verb schtick. Overall, it was okay with the amount of information that was easily obtained and ability to comprehend but the writing style was beyond annoying bordering on tedious.
A.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
This was an interesting and (mostly) accessible read. I got a bit bogged down in the detailed quark chapters, and it was a bummer to be reading something written in the early 90s, because it (obviously) left out everything from then until the present, which ended the book with a lot of questions. But otherwise it was entertaining and interesting.
Kashif Nasir
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
the neutrino is our god,,, The author basically compares the old science and new science, and says that science haven't done much in present age, it's funny sometimes, there is a bit of scientific mumbo jumbo, but this is no proof book, of creation theory,
Jeff
May 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Agh. It probably wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't read 800 million history of physics books in the past...this one isn't so great stacked up next to _In Search of Schrodinger's Cat_, or _Brief History of Time_, but if you have to read ONE, I guess it'll do.
Betty Ho
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
This book translates tons of bizarre mathematical formulas into series of imaginable metaphors.

What are the odds of having a Nobel Prize winner to hold your hands, explain the universe to you and make you laugh at the same time?
osama bon jovi
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
lederman started off good before quickly spiralling off into a helicopter of shit. it was just boring, sorry.
Basel
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who knew a book about particle physics, with all of its glory of quantum theory, quarks, leptons, some weird things I can’t pronounce and much more, would be actually very funny and hilarious at times! Published in 1993 as the hunt for the Higgs boson was intensifying, “The God Particle. If the universe is the answer, what is the question?” is simply a great book on science by the Noble laureate and particle physicist Leon Lederman (In collaboration with science writer Dick Teresi). Much like wh ...more
Rodney Harvill
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
Based on the title, I had assumed that the book was about the Higgs Boson. In reality, it is more a history of science from Democritus, the Greek philosopher who first proposed the atom, to the modern physics and cosmology that include the theoretical basis for and implications of the Higgs field and particle(s). Democritus and his theory of the atom is used as a unifying theme. Although Aristotelian scholars had abandoned the atomic theory, modern science ultimately gave Democritus the last lau ...more
Josh Taylor
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An awesome introduction for anybody into particle Physics---especially if you have a phobia of Maths like I do 😅

Lederman uses his experience of experimenting in and running particle labs in combination with a down-to-earth attitude to explain why Quantum physics is so weird and the history of how it became so. Things are explained with tons of examples and metaphors to help you grasp ideas without having to toil over terrifying maths. Lederman does continuously say that the metaphors and explana
...more
WilliamSwift
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book 5 stars because it is such a great teacher of science and written so well, with great humour to boot. I almost took away a star because of the author's dismissive attitude towards philosophy, which is, after all, the science of ideas. But this attitude is so common that I let it go unpunished. I understand that philosophers shouldn't try to argue with scientific data, but they can legitimately have something to say about the interpretation of data. The author seems to think that ...more
A.T. Balsara
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first part of the book really helped me to understand some things that had been outside of my education experience. I found particle physics fascinating—the universe as creative force—but as the book went on I found my lack of foundational science to be a real hindrance in understanding. If anything, this book made me regret my assumption in high school, and later in university, that science was for other people and that, as an artist, I should focus solely on the arts. I regret that I will ...more
Colin Russell
After the first two chapters, I really wanted to give this book 5 stars. I loved the humor of the author and the ease with which he explained the concepts.

The last few chapters, however, became so dense and nearly unintelligible to the average adult. It didn't feel like Lederman was writing for the armchair physicist; it seemed as though it was written for the Masters student who already has significant education in physics and quantum mechanics. I really had to slog through the last 150 pages
...more
Ed
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Author Leon Lederman with Dick Teresi present an understandable account of particle physics. This account of the search for the Higgs Boson precedes the "Big Hole" in Texas and the CERN super-collider in Switzerland (which did find the Higgs Boson in 2012).

539.72 Subtitled: If the Universe Is the Answer, What is the Question? An account of the history of experimental particle physics in search of the basic building blocks of the Universe. Nobel Laureate Lederman was the director of FermiLab in B
...more
Alex Santoyo
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good guide to the standard model of particles. Lederman is an experimental physicist so all the book has references to the most important experiments that led to the standard model. It’s a little heavy for all the physics concepts but there’s no mathematical description of any model so he keeps it simple, inserting jokes about theoretical physicists here and there that keep you laughing and reading with enthusiasm.
Very recommendable if you want a general description of particle physics.
Kevin
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good and OK

Some parts were brilliant, some were an attempt to be funny, some were focused on the scientific history of particle physics, and some were not needed (dialogue with Democritus) I would have enjoyed a more focused book about the topics
Eric Layton
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
While I tend toward an interest in Cosmology and Astrophysics, you can't really understand the BIG without knowing something about the small (particle physics). Lederman's book is informative and very entertaining. It's not a complete rundown of particle physics, but it's well worth the read.
Ancil (geno)
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite technical book that I read for fun and Leon M. Lederman is my favorite technical writer. He really does a great job explaining things and has great analogies. At the time I started reading this, I was working 20 hour days, 10 days on and I still couldn't put this book down.
Tej
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Entertaining. It's like Particle Physics for Dummies. I probably understood about 10%, but it was written well enough that it was worthwhile.
Kinga Stefaniec
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great I understand physics at least for a while
Brad
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lederman inspires the engineer in me to want to find out more about my universe.
Luni
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: collected
Such a fun book, I absolutely love it.
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Leon M. Lederman (Ph.D., Columbia University) was Director of The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a position he held for ten years. He was the Frank L. Sulzberger Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago. He received the National Medal of Science in 1965 and shared the Wolf Prize in physics in 1982. Dr. Lederman shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the muon n ...more
“One hundred thirty-seven is the inverse of something called the fine-structure constant. ...The most remarkable thing about this remarkable number is that it is dimension-free. ...Werner Heisenberg once proclaimed that all the quandaries of quantum mechanics would shrivel up when 137 was finally explained.” 4 likes
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