INTERACTIONS: A Journey Through the Mind of a Particle Physicist and the Matter of This World by Sheldon with Ben Bova Glashow

INTERACTIONS: A Journey Through the Mind of a Particle Physicist and the Matter of This World

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Nobel trajectory traced from the Bronx High School of Science to Harvard by way of Cornell, Stanford, Cal Tech. Berkeley, Copenhagen, and numerous watering spots of physicists worldwide. Glashow, along with Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg (a high-school classmate), won the Physics prize in 1979 for developing the electroweak synthesis--which unifies electromagnetism with the weak force of radioactive decay. As part of his contribution, Glashow predicted the discovery of a new species of quarks, those with ""charm."" The saga is presented as a straightforward chronology interspersed with short-takes to describe the state of the science. (Too short, probably, for readers unversed in the lingo.) Glashow/Bova (the latter the prolific author of Welcome to Moonbase, 1987, and many others) are an exuberant pair--united in a zeal for science and also science fiction: Glashow takes pride in the fact that he and Gerald Feinberg, yet another high-school buddy destined for physics fame, published the first high-school s.f. fanzine. Indeed, pride is the dominant mood of the book. Glashow is not averse to admitting his failures, his moments of humiliation (Eugene Wigner, for example, remarked that the young Glashow knew the language of physics but not its content), his car disasters, and other foibles. But his air of insouciance pervades, and he delights in telling about the string of girlfriends he's had, his wonderful wife, the zillions of physicists he counts as friends. Nor can he resist providing a complete play-by-play description of the week in Stockholm for the Nobel festivities. Withal, the book is a celebration of his love of particle physics, traced through his many mentors, including Julian Schwinger and Murray Gell-Mann. Tine text describes how the quark story grew and hatched the many fundamental particles that would be discovered by experimental physicists at CERN and other laboratories. These now form the pieces of the ""standard"" theory. There remain unresolved issues and cosmological questions of interest. But until a demonstrably better theory comes along, he's ready to take aim at the superstringers and other heretics. Lively portrait of a physicist with chutzpah.

Pub Date: May 26th, 1988
Publisher: Warner