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le 10 juin 2014
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 always remain remarkably clear. Occasionally some concepts may require a bit more effort for the uninitiated, but the author only discusses what is necessary to understand the story. And that is precisely what this book is: a story of the neutrino.

That story starts in 1930 and ends here around 2005. The main plot revolves around three little known characters: Raymond Davis, John Bahcall and Bruno Pontecorvo. They come to life in this book like never before. They are the unsung heroes of particle physics and only the specialists know who they are and what they have accomplished. But these three pioneers will now be able to rest in peace because Close has done a wonderful job of revealing for the first time to a large audience their true contribution to modern physics. The author tells this story like if he was talking to his students in a classroom, recounting how the neutrino was first conceived in the imagination of the scientists and how it was eventually discovered many years later. In the process we come to learn the physics of the neutrino, like students riveted to the blackboard, with our minds captivated by personal and scientific anecdotes intertwined with science lessons. The author was very successful at maintaining a good balance between the human aspect and the scientific endeavour. And because the elusive nature of the neutrino and its mysterious character often extended to the protagonists themselves it made a fascinating read.

While doing the research for this book the author uncovered so many interesting facts about Pontecorvo that he decided to write a dedicated biography: "Half-Life: The Divided Life of Bruno Pontecorvo, Physicist or Spy". Like for the anticipated discovery of the neutrino, these two books were long overdue.
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