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A Map of the Invisible: Journeys into Particle Physics

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  41 reviews
'A magnificent, compelling and insightful voyage to the frontier of knowledge from a great writer with a deep understanding.' Brian Cox

What is the universe really made of? How do we know? Follow the map of the invisible to find out...

Over the last sixty years, scientists around the world have worked together to explore the fundamental constituents of matter, and the forces
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published October 5th 2017 by Cornerstone Digital
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  136 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science

Atom Land: A Guided Tour Through the Strange (and Impossibly Small) World of Particle Physics by Jon Butterworth. Butterworth is a lecture in particle physics at a layman's level. Butterworth is a physics professor at University College London and a member of the Atlas experiment at Cern's Large Hadron Collider. He studied Physics at the University of Oxford, gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1989 followed by a Doctor of Philosophy in particle physics in 1992. His Ph.D. research used the ZEUS
Ben Babcock
Ben is still split on this one, folks. Atom Land: A Guided Tour Through the Strange (And Impossibly Small) World of Particle Physics tries to teach us about … well, particle physics. Specifically, Jon Butterworth takes us on a tour of the different particles in the Standard Model of physics, explains the three fundamental forces that interact with them, and then expands our horizons by briefly touching on the frontiers of physics research. The subject matter is fascinating, and Butterworth’s pre ...more
Ed Erwin
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nonfiction
A quick, entertaining read. Tough going for me in the beginning, because it was covering stuff I know very well already and doing so inside an annoying (to me) story of traveling between different islands representing different classes of subatomic particles. Maps of those islands, reminiscent of those in A Wizard of Earthsea and similar fantasy stories were attractive, but added little for me. The book really started to become interesting to me only when it started discussing the weak nuclear f ...more
Jim Razinha
I am obliged to The Experiment (independent publisher) for providing me an Advance Reader Copy of the American edition through NetGalley.

This is a wonderful book. I quickly grew tired of the travel metaphor that Prof. Butterworth uses, but shed that imagined weariness when he got into weak forces and by the end, was a wholehearted fan. I have not come across a better, layperson's explanation of particle physics than this book. No, it's not rigorously mathematically bound, nor is this a classroom
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You Thought the Atom Was the Smallest Unit of Matter! Written by Jon Butterworth, and published by The Experiment, LLC in 2018, this book is an effort by a gifted writer and physicist to explain a very complex scientific understanding of the smallest things in the Universe to lay persons like you and me. We were probably taught that the atom was the smallest unit of matter, but it’s not. The author tells us with great detail about the ever smaller components of atoms, the building blocks of ...more
Pop Bop
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Don't Worry About the "Whimsy"; This Is Top Drawer Teaching

I was a bit leery about this title at first. I have a working knowledge of physics and a reasonably broad understanding of the fundamentals of quantum physics. But, more and deeper understanding is always better, and it's one thing to sort of understand what you're reading and quite another to truly comprehend what you just read or at least to extend your reach. So, this book looked interesting - except for the come on -- "Readers will s
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Atom Land was a joy to read.

I’m not a scientist, astronomer, physicist, etal. Just have a curious mind. Atom Land does a good job of helping those who are afraid of the Math in Physics. Being able to explain complex issues with simple illustrations is a gift. Jon Butterworth’s sailing voyage hit the mark for me. We come from the west, the land of what we consider normal. Planets, moons, suns, galaxies. This is what we see and interact with. Mr Butterworth then brings us to our starting point, Po
penny shima glanz
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the past several years I've attended periodic public physics lectures at my alma mater. It's been over twenty years since I studied the subject and I never progressed past a general introduction. This book helps to refresh my memory and to reinforce the new-to-me material I've been learning about.

Atom Land provides an approachable overview to particle physics. The travel guide format makes the topic approachable; it allows the reader to digest the material in small chunks without being over
Rohit Garg
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book four stars, but I think this is more or less a must-read for laymen interested in learning more about particle physics. The author does a good job of explaining what he's talking about, especially when he strays from the simile of his map.

This is the major failing of this book -- the idea of the map largely seems to be there to serve as flavor, not metaphor, and this distinction is not made clear from the get-go. To make matters more confusing, the author does attempt to dir
Willy Marz Thiessam
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, physics
This book by Jon Butterworth is a real treasure for those who like their intellectual feasts with the wine of humor. Butterworth uses the metaphor of a map to describe the world of experimental physics. He not only explains what we know but also and more importantly what we don't know.

I think an alternate title should be "Here be dragons". Like the early map makers who drew dragons where they had no information here Butterworth goes one better, he envisions what it is like to be a scientist jou
Emily Willsher
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Map of the Invisible: Journeys into Particle Physics was an excellent introduction to some of the most complex ideas in particle physics for a non-expert.

As the title suggests the book structures its explanations by using a map metaphor to explain many concepts with each new idea added to the pictured map at the beginning of the chapter. As a physicist this idea of exploring a map sometimes seemed irrelevant b
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-s
A Map Of The Invisible is a great book for anyone who wants a guide to particle physics. Written to be easily understood, A Map Of The Invisible is a unique and interesting read for anyone with a growing passion for science.

The first thing that really pulls you in is the writing. Lyrical in moments, Butterworth has a great way of explaining this theory through this book in the form of a journey and how he describes makes this book such a thoughtful read, it can be captivating and it is a great
Riku Sarlin
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Opus kertoo viihdyttävällä tavalla leptoneista, hadroneista, bosoneista ja kvarkeista - alkeishiukkasista.

Tavoitteeni oli yrittää saada kiinni kvarkeista ja bosoneista. Näitä en ole oikein aikaisemmin ymmärtänyt. No, en ymmärrä vieläkään. Liekö niin hankalaa kamaa, että on vaikea ihan perussivistyksellä ymmärtää. Voihan sitä toki miehen ymmärryksessäkin olla toki vikaa...

Tarina sujuu kyllä tyylikkäästi käyttäen analogiana kartan piirtämistä, ikään kuin tutkimusmatkan tekemistä. Eri tyyppiset alk
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first have to suggest that you should make time for sustained reading sessions. I broke up my own reading with other books and found I was lost upon picking this one back up. Having said that, though, I loved the metaphor. I could easily imagine teaching a survey course with the map metaphor as the frame on which to hang the semester. The drawings are not only lovely but also helped orient me while reading. My only quibble is that the focus on the metaphor sometimes hid what was being talked a ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Note: I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

I really enjoyed reading this book. As a student studying physics and mathematics, I approach popular science books with trepidation, since they can either gloss over too many details or overly romanticize the job of scientists. With that being said, I found this book to not suffer from these issues. Instead, the imagery was great and the book had a very nice flow to it. The chapters weren't too long, and they brushed on just enough detail to m
Becky Moore
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. I loved the way it was framed as an exciting journey into a wild landscape. This made it easier to read than just trying to explain each theory one after the after. The map has helped me remember the names of the particles and groups of particles.
It got a little complicated towards the end for me (that depends on you knowledge of course so some people would be fine with it) but even then I was happy to be taken along for the ride and learn the overview even if I didn't
Kirk Dobihal
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, physics
Though I have taken several courses in Astrophysics and Cosmology this book reminds me of what I do not know. Without the impact of mathematics this book will take you on a unique voyage into the world of particle physics. I say impact of mathematics - as a true understanding at that level leads one to a grasp that smacks of the ahh-ha - I plead ignorance at that level, and just feel the smacking pain of a headache brought on by my having to accept what is written, hoping that the people at CERN ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a journey into the world of quantim physics; Jon Butterworth cleverly emplys the metaphor of a cartographical map to expain this complex and confusing subject. The tone is lighthearted and easy to follow for those of us not up to speed with the complicated mathematics. I found it a very entertaining read and I now understand many of the concepts discussed more clearly than I did before.

If you are looking for a textbook look elsewhere. If you want a book aimed at the layman and you want t
Jon Stone
Sep 14, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. I’d suggest to everyone looking to dive in- split this work into sessions, not a straight read over a day(s) straight session..

That said, what I think held me back the most was not being as well read in some of the theories and concepts that are discussed or are covered in discussion. I am hard pressed to say “start a little more elementary” due to the amount of detail covered, but I don’t think it’s really
I periodically pick up a science book to try to stretch my brain a bit. This was a good one - Jon Butterworth has a good writing style, a dry sense of humor that comes through periodically, and talent with explaining complex concepts in a way that makes them easier to understand. Treating particle physics as a "landscape" and using the metaphors of maps and voyages to explain it was really creative and actually helped in making sense of things.

*Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, provided by the au
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book! The maps are very useful for mnemonics and the explanations are quite cool.

- it made me ask myself more questions than it answered. Basically, I almost felt like there is no answer :O
-no drawings/pics outside of the maps :( that made it hard for me to understand certain experiments.

I will surely have to reread it, if I have the time :)

PS> It ends on a beautiful note!!!
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Metaphors and information mapped into a coherent plotline filled with information make this book a great read. It has lots of information regarding parcticle physics put in a way that's easy to understand for anyone who is new to the field. A great introduction to the world of particle physics without getting into the complex math, anyone who wants to get into particle physics should come to this book.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A wonderfully readable trip through the islands of hadrons, leptons, quarks, and bosons traveling aboard electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and some gravitational loops to an evening in a friendly pub for the latest speculation about dark matter and dark energy.
Kevin Storm
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very readable for such an esoteric subject. Jon uses maps to guide one through the amazingly complex and hard to understand world of particle physics. I can't say I understood it all, but I learned a whole bunch and thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Absolutely incredible. The best and most comprehensive popular book on particle physics I've ever read. This cleared up soooo many confusing questions and bits of disconnected information floating around in my brain, and with such a simple analogy! God damn, gotta read it again.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written by an engaging and smart man. The content about Alice in
Wonderland particles was fascinating though often beyond my grasp. I did understand and liked this statement : “Quantum particles seem to
exploit all available opportunities to be wierd.”
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The metaphor got a little too strained by the end, so it lost a lot of clarity.
Schalk Westhuizen
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Really complex but interesting.
Roberto Arias
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bit too much travel references, but other than that, the book is beautifully written.
Jason Taylor
Mind-boggling. The analogy is not strong. Some parts are very interesting, but at some point you just can't dumb something down enough.
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Jon Butterworth is a physics professor at University College London, and a member of the Atlas experiment at Cern's Large Hadron Collider.

He also writes for various places including The Guardian, Aeon and Cosmic Shambles.
Links to that and more, including news about public appearances, corrections and comments on his books, and other information can be found here.