The Quest to Understand Matter From Greek Atoms to Quantum Fields

Book - 2017
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Everything around us is made of 'stuff', from planets, to books, to our own bodies. Whatever it is, we call it matter or material substance. It is solid; it has mass. But what is matter, exactly? We are taught in school that matter is not continuous, but discrete. As a few of the philosophers of ancient Greece once speculated, nearly two and a half thousand years ago, matter comes in 'lumps', and science has relentlessly peeled away successive layers of matter to reveal its ultimate constituents
"Albert Einstein once claimed that without belief in the inner harmony of our world, there could be no science. But modern science has revealed that the inner harmony of some of the simplest phenomena can be startlingly beautiful in its complexity. This is certainly true of matter, and its most commonplace property, mass. We have come a long way since the conjectures of the Greek atomists. We know for sure that atoms exist, and we also know that they're divisible. They consist of electrons, orbiting nuclei of protons and neutrons. We know that protons and neutrons are in turn composed of quarks. And we have found that elementary particles inside atoms behave like waves: mysterious phantoms of probability. We have identified several families of subatomic particles, and now recognize that 'empty' space fizzes with virtual particles. we think now of mass in terms of the energies of interactions. Elementary particles gain mass by interacting with the Higgs field, revealed by the discovery of the Higgs boson, but we still don't understand why some particles interact more strongly than others. As Jim Baggott explains in this absorbing account that takes us from atoms to quarks, gluons, and quantum chromodynamics, we have journeyed far, but we have yet to fully understand the fundamental nature of mass."--Jacket
Publisher: Oxford, United Kingdom : Oxford University Press, 2017
Edition: First Edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780198759713
Characteristics: xvi, 346 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Sep 14, 2019

A book where it really pays to read and understand the end notes, which are both voluminous and mind stretching.

May 17, 2018

Terrific book for the layman who's interested in what the world is made of according to physicists.
Easy-going writing style.
Highly recommended.


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