THE CREATION OF MATTER: The Universe from Beginning to End by Harald Fritzsch

THE CREATION OF MATTER: The Universe from Beginning to End

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Particle physicist and theorist Fritzsch (Max Planck Institute, Munich; CERN, Geneva) frames his dissertation on matter, space, and time in personal thoughts: on student attitudes toward science and technology; on the non-incompatibility of science and religion, and the need for scientists to set research-limits, in deference to the complexities of life and the need to preserve the world. Embraced within these themes is a more straightforward exposition of the world of particles and of cosmology. In the first half, Fritzsch moves from the galaxy to concepts of measurement, uncertainty, quantum mechanics, and field theory. These are well-wrought short chapters that provide just the sort of ancillary material to brace readers for more detailed studies like Christine Sutton's The Particle Connection (p. 963). Fritzsch's more descriptive approach brings the particles on stage one by one (or two by two, as particles collide), and he makes clear how significant high temperatures and energies are in the production of the more exotic particles. Quarks make their appearance halfway through, with allusions to work at CERN and at Stanford's Linear Accelerator Center; here, Fritzsch uses a Q&A device to simulate puzzled readers' questions (some perhaps left in puzzlement by his murkier 1983 Quarks). Subsequent chapters deal with proton decay, and attempts at unified field theories, and then take off in cosmological directions. Fritzsch invents his own thought experiments--using a furnace, for example, to simulate the creation of matter out of energy, and vice versa. This serves as entree to a discussion of the Big Bang and the chronology of events assumed to occur in the first three minutes. Questions of the fate of the universe, of whether neutrons have mass, and of the nature of quasars take readers over familiar ground that Fritzsch plows as well as most. The book's special strengths, however, are the chapters on quantum and particle physics that make the lay reader feel at home (as Paul Davies, for one, doesn't quite), while at the same time capturing the excitements of the insider.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1984
Publisher: Basic Books