The Infinity Puzzle by Frank Close

The Infinity Puzzle

Speculation is rife that by 2012 the elusive Higgs boson will be found at the Large Hadron Collider. If found, the Higgs boson would help explain why everything has mass. But there’s more at stake—what we’re really testing is our capacity to make the universe reasonable. Our best understanding of physics is predicated on something known as quantum field theory. Unfortunately, in its raw form, it doesn’t make sense—its outputs are physic...

Details The Infinity Puzzle

TitleThe Infinity Puzzle
Release DateNov 29th, 2011
PublisherBasic Books
GenreScience, Physics, Nonfiction, Quantum Mechanics

Reviews The Infinity Puzzle

  • WarpDrive
    I must say that this book left me a bit disappointed and quite underwhelmed: it is well written, very detailed when describing the historical evolution of modern particle physics, rich with anecdotal detail and also conceptually precise and lucid, but it simply does not contain enough actual physics.On the positive side, some subjects of great interest are addressed by the author in a succinct, informative and clear way, accessible even to the no...
  • Charlene
    Close provided a history of quantum physics from QED and Feynman's diagrams to the hunt for the Higgs. I never get tired of Feynman's antics, and it's clear Frank Close doesn't either. Like so many other researchers with new and bold ideas, Feynman's new ideas associated with QED were not taken seriously. The debates were always very heated, so much so, that one time, Feynman gave up mid lecture (even though he was right!). He came back the next ...
  • Brian Clegg
    This is a really important popular science book if you are interested in physics, because it covers some of the important bits of modern physics that most of us science writers are too afraid to write about. Starting with renormalization in QED, the technique used to get rid of the unwanted infinities that plagued the early versions of the theory and moving on to the weak force, the massive W and Z bosons, the Higgs business and the development o...
  • Gendou
    This is a detailed history of the discoveries of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), and their unification into the Standard Model by spontaneous symmetry breaking and the Higgs mechanism. It's one of those people-driven histories of science, which can get boring if not petty at times. But overall, it tells an exciting story of this impressive achievement.The central theme of the book is renormalization in Gauge Theory. T...
  • Michael Huang
    The book is written by a good scientist who wrote some other very clear work and about some fascinating hardcore particle physics. I fully expect it to be a 4- if not 5-star book. Unfortunately, this is deeply disappointing. No doubt it’s not a simple subject and it’s not easy for laymen to understand. Try this: “The question [...] was this: If symmetry is spontaneously broken in the presence of a massless vector-gauge boson (such as a phot...
  • Steven Williams
    Review to follow
  • Gary Beauregard Bottomley
    There's almost not a wasted word in this book. If you blink while listening, you might lose track of the physics. The author is very good at writing a history of quantum science from QED to looking for the Higgs boson.He uses the narrative of the scientific players to describe the physics. There is nothing of the physics or the math for which he does not explain before he talks about it. The problem is the author explains the physics at the momen...
  • Long Nguyen
    If you are fascinated at all with recent (and by recent, I mean the latter half of the 20th century) development in physics, and the major players involved, then this book is for you. I am of the personal belief that even though science at its best is about the world, what makes science human is the people behind it. And they, like you or I, have feelings, aspirations, and interests. They also make mistakes, sometimes benign, sometimes tragic.Des...
  • Abu Hayat Khan
    This book talks about the history of physics since the WWII. It has a particular discussion on two prominent figures in physics: the Dutch physicist Gerard 't Hooft, and the Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam. For general people, probably this is the best book on Higgs Boson, from the evolution of Higgs mechanism until its final discovery in LHC.Similar to classical physics, quantum physics has two eras of development. One goes by the name "Quantum ...
  • Cassandra Kay Silva
    This was definitely not what I thought it was going to be. It was more of a history of the various forerunners into the ideas that go behind much of theoretical physics and quantum field theory but contained very little science in it. Frankly I could care less who got noble prizes for what and who got shafted, I am more interested in the theories and current understanding itself which this book only slightly got into.
  • Behzad
    The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe was published in late 2011, just as experimental physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) were homing in on the long-sought Higgs particle. In this book, British particle physicist Frank Close successfully meets two very difficult challenges.First, Close provides a non-mathematical but honest account of the most important developments in theoretical elementary par...
  • Shāhruq Sarfarāz
    I have to admit that Frank Close is my favourite physicist when it comes to literature. This book is yet another masterpiece to not grasp knowledge about quantum physics - its development from the discovery of weak nuclear force, unification of electromagnetism and weak nuclear force, to understand superconductivity, Higgs boson etc. And not to forget it was really a pleasure to read through the mini-biographies of some great particle physicists....
  • Bill Leach
    An excellent history of the development of particle physics from Quantum Electrodynamics through to the demonstration of the Higgs at the LHC. Frank Close steps the reader through each development, organizing the narrative around the work of each leading scientist.The development is complex with the concepts of the Higgs mechanism and quarks finally leading to Quantum Chromodynamics which explains the strong force. It is surprising how much of th...
  • Ken Dilella
    if you remove what was and what could be the book would be good. Re living the history again in another book was frustrating especially this one. Way too many names mentioned. Quantum field theory was mentioned twice despite it appearing on the front cover. I believe the author is a super symmetry theorist as that is mentioned many times throughout the book but without an endorsement. Very good descriptions of the Higgs boson (the book was writte...
  • Neal Alexander
    The theories and personalities that took particle physics from the end of World War II to the discovery of the Higgs boson, with reflections on what should and does make for a Nobel prize. Fairly technical language, with Feynman diagrams and facsimiles of notebooks and published papers, although few if any equations in the main text. The author tries to build a story out of the physicists involved but it doesn’t quite come alive, maybe because ...
  • Brian
    The last book I read, many years ago, on particle physics was called The Dancing Wu Li Masters, which was published back in 1979. Much has happened since then, and I picked this book to try to catch up on this interesting field of physics. But all of the concepts and ideas and terms discussed in this book (e.g. broken symmetry, Yang-Mills theory, SU(2) x U(1), gauge invariance, and many others) were a lot to grasp and appreciate for me. I think t...
  • Mohan
    Good but a lengthy book with relatively less physics meat and more of history. The books starts off very interestingly about a relatively unknown t’ Hooft with the bugbear problem of infinities at quantum scale when it comes to measurements. However it digresses into history, conversations and conferences throwing the reader off the hook by easily forgetting about the point of discussion - the infinity problem. 4 stars because I deem it as a ph...
  • Andy Yule
    I found this book both hard going and fascinating.It tells the story of the last 50 years of atomic physics, culminating in the building of the Large Hadron Collider to search for proof of the Highs boson.The physics is sometimes rather hard to understand and the story of controversy over Nobel prizes is told very cautiously, I suspect with a conscious effort to avoid sensationalism.
  • Mark Schnell
    I thought this book was great, although it did not answer what for me was the important question: why can physicists calculate to nine decimal places of accuracy physical quantities in quantum electrodynamics, yet cannot estimate the cost of building the Superconducting Supercollider in Waxahachie, Texas to the nearest billion dollars?
  • Jeremiah Raymond Morofsky
    A few questions of the main subject material have now been answered within the scientific community, making the book a little bit dated; but the read on the historical context of its presented timeline leading to our modern era remains fascinating and a worthwhile read.
  • Theodore Carrigan-Broda
    A thorough (albeit a bit dry) account of the long, occasionally disputatious, and surprisingly sinuous route to the development of the standard model in modern particle physics, written for physics laypeople
  • Hayden
    Really more interested in who deserves which Nobels than in explaining concepts or why they matter.
  • James Galloway
    Books about the mathematics of quantum physics can sometimes have dull parts.
  • Bojan Tunguz
    Since its completion in 2008, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN has been the focus of a lot of news coverage. It is by far the largest scientific project in history, and very likely the last such project for the foreseeable future. And yet, it has been fairly difficult to explain to the general public the exact purpose of LHC and what sorts of questions are the scientists trying to answer by culling over its experimental results. One of the...
  • Debsuvra Ghosh
    A comprehensive chronological overview of how progresses were made in the field of particle physics spanning almost a century till 2010. The author collected extensive amount of information, interviewed people involved and sorted through that gargantuan heap of information like a human equivalent of CERN sorting through LHC data. A great title for people who's interested in the history of particle physics.
  • Sean
    If your goal is to get an overview of modern physics from a historical perspective The Infinity Puzzle would nicely serve as one of two books to describe the second half of the 20th century (you would need another to cover gravitation and cosmology, perhaps A Brief History of Time). Frank Close, an English particle physicist, begins describing the infinity puzzle by taking up some of the logical holes left in quantum mechanics following its found...
  • Randy
    Professor Close is a wonderful writer... he does a fine job of inserting and explaining some of the theoretical aspects of the science, without overwhelming us poor laymen.This is a chronology of the theories of matter and the forces acting on matter.... to enjoy it you should have a basic notion what a quark is even if you cannot name the various types of quarks or explain how they do what they do, or how they do it.He compares the role of the H...
  • Nilesh
    The book is more about the discoverers, their machinations, wins and losses rather than the discoveries.To be clearer, the author does track various QED discoveries of the sixties to the eighties. By not focussing on the first half of the twentieth century which mostly fills all the popular science books (no Einstein or Bohr etc here!), the author has a lot more to offer. Yet, the book implicitly presupposes its reader to be extremely well-acquai...
  • Adam Zabell
    Solid history lesson on why we built the LHC, and the vagaries of science-in-practice instead of science-as-mythology.Like many "first person pop sci" books (aka "The Double Helix"), this one builds to a climax. Here, it's when Gerard 't Hooft made a 10 minute presentation on his math showing you could renormalize Yang–Mills Fields and thus bring the weak force into the fold with the electromagnetic. What was unique here, and which I really lik...
  • Cade
    This book is really just about the history of quantum field theories. It describes the men who made the discoveries and how each one contributed his piece to the final edifice. It does not really bother trying to explain what quantum field theory is or what it means. This is a departure from the author's other books I have read previously (Neutrino and Antimatter)). Perhaps this is because the nature of quantum field theory is too technical to be...