A HIDDEN SIMPLICITY OF NUCLEAR PARTICLES by Fred Howard

A HIDDEN SIMPLICITY OF NUCLEAR PARTICLES

That Even Undergrads Will Understand
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A retired engineer expands on a 2005 paper exploring the attributes of subatomic particles.

In this debut book, Howard returns to a paper published in Florida Scientist in which he derives and explains the characteristics of muons, leptons, quarks, and other components of the atomic nucleus. The volume assumes that the audience is already familiar with subatomic particles, getting into the meat of the author’s arguments rather than providing background information. But occasional descriptive metaphors (“These micro-quanta are like the uniform bricks used as building materials for a whole variety of solid brick houses”) help keep readers oriented. Detailed chapters—illustrated with numerous charts, equations, and graphs—lay out the book’s interpretation of the nature and behavior of the particles, drawing heavily on the work of the Particle Data Group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The volume also includes a series of what appear to be PowerPoint slides that presents the same information more concisely, and each chapter features citations of relevant research. Howard concludes that while substantial work still remains to be done (“Electrons today are like the indeterminate atom before Rutherford a century ago”), the data provides a new level of understanding of the nature of atoms and the laws that govern physics. While the author maintains that the book is intended to be comprehensible to undergraduate students, it is not written for anyone with a limited understanding of physics, and the design (blocks of sans-serif text, frequent underlining, awkward presentation of figure captions) does not lend itself to easy reading. General readers may be put off by the technical discussions (“The previous chapter ended with a necessity for exploring uniform conic vortices that couple between any adjacent pair of them with vigorous multiple forces”). Still, Howard displays a talent for the well-turned phrase (“No other system works, though it is frustratingly very much like feeling underwater for little eels in the dark”). This is not a tome for casual reading, but it may be of interest to amateur physicists.

A highly technical examination of the attributes of electrons, mesons, baryons, and other particles best understood through equations.

Page count: 388pp
Publisher: Howard Particle Physics Group
Program: Kirkus Indie
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