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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

A fine piece of scientific popularisation from one of the best scientic communicators around. (Literary Review)

Close tells this story with verve and precision... admirably clear and eminently accessible. (Wall Street Journal)

As an award-winning writer, Close tells this detective story with great style. (Robert Matthews, BBC Focus) --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 192 pages
  • Editeur : OUP Oxford; Édition : Reprint (23 février 2012)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0199695997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199695997
  • Dimensions du produit: 19,6 x 2 x 12,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Par Normand Hamel le 10 juin 2014
Format: Broché
Like a neutrino beam this book is both dense and light at the same time. Obviously written for the educated layperson it explains in exquisite details the mechanics behind the neutrino. But the explanations remain remarkably clear throughout. Occasionally though some concept may require a bit more effort for the uninitiated, but the author only discusses what is necessary to understand the story. Because that is what this book is: the story of the neutrino.

That story starts here in 1930 and ends around 2005. What Close has done in this book is to tell this story like if he was talking to his students in a classroom and recounting how the neutrino was first conceived and how it was eventually discovered, while at the same time teaching the basic science principles behind it all. Close keeps a good balance between the human endeavour and the technicalities associated with the search for the ever elusive neutrino. It would qualify as a great detective story, but it is certainly not great literature. The tone is too casual and down to earth for that.

The plot revolves mainly around three little known characters: Raymond Davis, John Bahcall and Bruno Pontecorvo. They come to life here like I have never seen before. One could say that they are the unsung heroes of particle physics. Only the specialists know them, or those who have a deep interest for the subject, like I do. But they will now be able to rest in peace because Close has done a fine job of revealing to us their true contribution. That is in my view the principle merit of this book.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 30 commentaires
25 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
What mad pursuit... 9 janvier 2011
Par Ash Jogalekar - Publié sur
Format: Relié
These days we are all excited about the Higgs boson, but as Frank Close reminds us in his lucid and comprehensive yet succinct book, the real heroic efforts in particle physics of the twentieth century were in pursuing and hunting down the elusive neutrino. The neutrino is copiously produced by solar processes and every second billions of neutrinos astonishingly pass through our bodies, yet the particle has no charge and for a long time was postulated to have no mass, which made its detection difficult to put it mildly.

Close documents the initial theoretical efforts by Wolfgang Pauli, Enrico Fermi and others to explain atomic processes like beta decay by invoking the neutrino. But the real heroes in the story are the experimentalists who spent their entire careers and gambled their scientific lives in dogged pursuit of this ghost particle. It was Bruno Pontecorvo, a protege of Fermi who realized that one could set up chlorine tanks near nuclear reactors to detect the existence of neutrinos. Pontecorvo also proposed other creative and theoretical ideas to capture and analyze neutrinos. He certainly deserved and would probably have won a Nobel Prize had he lived long enough and not defected to the Soviet Union. After Pontecorvo, the great modern heroes of the neutrino story are Raymond Davis and John Bahcall who spent their lives making heroic efforts to nail down the identity of Fermi's "little neutral one". Davis read Pontecorvo's paper in the early 50s and decided to set up an ambitious experiment with a chlorine tank several kilometers underground in an abandoned mine. The location was necessary to shield out other radiation from cosmic rays and capture only neutrinos, which being massless can travel virtually unimpeded through the earth. At the same time their lack of charge and mass makes their interaction with matter very rare and fleeting. Bahcall was a theoretical wizard who provided increasingly accurate estimates of the rate of capture. Half a century of almost obsessive work by the two men won Davis a Nobel Prize in physics, which he should have shared with Bahcall.

The story also has amusing side-lines, such as when a group of physicists called a nearby nuclear power station to correct their calculations for antineutrinos produced by the reactor. Not knowing what an antineutrino was, the reactor personnel assumed that the particle was harmful and that the physicists were environmentalists, and they tried to assure the scientists that "no antineutrinos were being produced" which would have been impossible and violated some fundamental laws of physics. One of the most intriguing discussions in the book documents the resolution of the so-called "solar neutrino problem". The generation of neutrinos in the processes that produce solar energy had been described by Hans Bethe and others. But the actual rate of detection turned out to be far less than the theoretical postulated rate. Something was missing and this caused a lot of angst for several decades. Bahcall and Davis gambled their entire careers on this paradox. A lot of creative, Nobel Prize caliber work by many scientists involving the decay of other novel particles like muons and pions finally revealed that the neutrinos emitted by the sun were actually changing their identities between two "flavors" called electron and muon neutrinos. This process was termed neutrino oscillation. The underground detectors could detect only one flavor of neutrino, explaining the discrepancy between theory and experiment. It was one of particle physics's resounding triumphs and revealed among other things that neutrinos have a vanishingly small but finite mass.

The tremendous work with neutrinos in the 20th century has led to the flourishing of a branch of astronomy called "neutrino astronomy" in the 21st. The study of the types, numbers, directions and flavors of neutrinos can shed valuable light on astrophysical processes taking place inside exotic objects like supernovas millions of light years away. Some of the facilities set up to detect neutrinos involve football field sized underground detectors filled with hundreds of tons of material located in some of the most extreme environments on the planet like the South Pole in order to avoid interference from other sources. Neutrino astronomy has turned physicists into intrepid explorers traveling to the far reaches of the planet. Their work is ensuring that we now have an additional window into the workings of the farthest and deepest reaches of the cosmos. But as Close excitingly documents in this slim volume, the foundation for all these exciting developments was laid by the theoreticians and experimentalists who participated in some of the most exciting races and pursuits of particle physics during the twentieth century. It's a story that's as rousing as any in science.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Trapping the Ghost Particle 29 janvier 2011
Par R. Hardy - Publié sur
Format: Relié
We don't find it at all odd that photons, particles of light, should pass right through glass. Transparency is a property, though, that not all matter has, so the photons stop somewhere, and light up objects for us to see. It is peculiar, though, to think that other particles might find you and me transparent, or in fact shoot through the whole Earth (or anything else) as easily as photons go through glass. Such particles indeed exist. Neutrinos weigh almost nothing (gather 100,000 of them and you might outweigh an electron) and they have no charge, but they go almost as fast as light through matter as if it were not there, that is, they don't interact with whatever they are passing through. They have been called "ghost particles," but they are far more common than any spooks. According to _Neutrino_ (Oxford University Press) by physicist Frank Close, there are more neutrinos than there are electrons or any other subatomic particle. And they zip all around; something like forty million of them shoot through your eyeballs every second. Reading Close's book is a good introduction to a very peculiar particle, and to many allied themes in physics and cosmology. Be warned, however, that this is all so unlike the Newtonian physics and the high school chemistry with which you may be familiar that much of what Close describes is going to remain mysterious. As a tale about the hunt for the neutrino, and the tenacious researchers who lassoed the ghost, Close's brief book is a pleasing story about scientific success.

Like so many of the physics discoveries of the twentieth century, the neutrino was predicted as a theoretical particle before anyone had actually caught one, but Close writes, "The neutrino seemed to be a theorist's bad dream, a beautiful idea, destined forever to be unknowable to experiment." Physicists eventually realized that the huge numbers of neutrinos could work against the almost infinitesimal odds of catching one. What was eventually used was cleaning fluid, say 100,000 gallons of the stuff and deep in a mine to keep the detector isolated from any other influence. Neutrino detectors have gotten better. When in 1987 a supernova explosion was detected, the neutrinos were detected, too; there would have been no detectors available for them if they had passed this way a couple of decades before. We don't see such explosions very often; the most famous was in 1604. The Sun's neutrinos reach us in eight minutes; the explosion detected in1987 happened 170,000 years ago, and even at such range, the neutrinos were as numerous as the ones coming in from the Sun, an indication of the huge power in a supernova explosion.

Work is being undertaken to use detectors that will initiate the new field of neutrino astronomy; the results will supplement what light and radio telescopes are already telling us. It might be that neutrinos will be the perfect way for us to observe the center of our Milky Way, and they might provide more information about the Big Bang, dark matter, the asymmetry of the universe, and who knows what else. As up-to-date as Close's book is, the neutrino story is far from complete. Scientists got this far with inspired hunches, complicated experiments, and frustrating failures of international communication, along with surprising challenges to theories from pesky experimental results. Close's narrative is a good tale of how real science is done.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Close to perfection 30 décembre 2010
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Frank Close can explain anything and everything. And make it interesting if not downright fascinating. On the surface, neutrinos are a very technical subject that should be beyond most people's skills. Frank Close turned the search for the nuetrino into a excellent who-did-what-and-when. I highly recommend this book.
12 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Light pun intended! 6 mai 2011
Par Tghu Verd - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Sadly, Brian Greene has spoilt me when it comes to science writing. Frank Close is OK, but not in the same league, at least not in this short story about the prediction and discovery of natures elusive neutrino.

There's around 166 pages but that includes a lot of repetition and rehashing so it kind of dragged on a bit. Oh, and there's a LOT of "see my other book" stuff going on which I get, the guy needs to make a living, but I found it too "look at me, look at me" and that was distracting.

But the main gripe I had with "Neutrino" is that it essentially stopped without really imparting how neutrino's having mass, albeit slight, and being able to change type worries away at the cherished standard theory that physicists hang their hat on these days. The brilliance of Pauli, the genius of Pontecorvo and the determination of Davis deserved to be told, but the implications, now that's the real story. And for me Close did not drive that home.

So, it was an OK read on a long flight from Johannesburg to Sydney, but it did not make me want to rush out and buy his other recent books Antimatter or Nothing: A Very Short Introduction.
9 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
phd student 11 décembre 2010
Par wdlang - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
amazing good popular science book

i am a chinese student on solid state physics, having not much to do with high energy physics

this book delivers the ideas the faiths well.

i read it through in one night, cannot put it down
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