THE KEY TO THE UNIVERSE: A Report on the New Physics by Nigel Calder

THE KEY TO THE UNIVERSE: A Report on the New Physics

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the sixth of Nigel Calder's elaborations on television science shows coproduced by NET and the BBC. These are handsome books revealing the camera's eye in their extensive use of photos and drawings. Unfortunately, the stylish combination of art and readable text is not sufficient to illuminate the world of elementary particles. Striking photos of accelerators and portraits of young men whose ""crazy ideas"" have proven right do not the reader inform. On the other hand, the ""Feynman diagrams""--a sort of pinched-in ""H"" depicting force carriers interacting with elementary particles--are a help and are used throughout the text. Calder begins by reviewing the known forces--gravity, electromagnetism, and the various weak and strong forces at work in the heart of atoms. Along with the scientists, he shows why, for example, symmetry demanded that an antineutrino exist, or why, on the other hand, laws of symmetry occasionally had to break down. The birth of quarks, of color, charm and strangeness, are duly recorded and the present uncertainty in particle physics is described in speculations about exploding black holes and open or closed universes. The last chapter echoes the theory of creation in seconds after the Big Bang, as recently described by Steven Weinberg in The First Three Minutes (p. 152). If the Calder work won't turn you into an instant expert, it does give the flavor of physics today.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1977
Publisher: Viking