539: Cracking the Quantum Code of the Universe by John Moffatt

by Gerard


539.721: Moffatt, John. Cracking the Quantum Code of the Universe: The Hunt for the Higgs Boson. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. 181 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-91552-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 530: Physics
  • 539: Modern physics
  • 539.7: Atomic and nuclear physics
  • 539.72: Particle physics and ionizing radiation
  • 539.721: Specific kinds of subatomic particles

John Moffatt’s Cracking the Particle Code of the Universe is a history of particle up to the discovery of the Higgs boson. First theorized in 1964, it took nearly 50 years and a $9 billion particle accelerator to generate enough particle collisions and data to verify its existence. From what I understood (and I don’t claim to have understood everything in this book), Higgs particles are associated with Higgs fields, which are the very reason fundamental particles have mass and why the weak force and weaker than the electromagnetic force. On July 4, 2012, researchers at CERN announced that they had enough proof of its existence. At a mass of 125 GeV, it had all the properties that had been mathematically constructed a half-century earlier. And science finally had another piece of its puzzle.

Moffatt’s book is incredibly detailed and science-laden. Like I said before, a fair amount of this material went right over my head. Incredibly, there are no diagrams, no illustrations, no offset equations to help him flesh out his history of the discovery. One would think there would be at least one table of all the subatomic particles or some graph of the data coming out of CERN. What it does have, however, is a thorough history of the physics and math leading up to the discovery, even theories that set out to disprove the particle’s existence. If you’re a particle physicist or training to be one, then you definitely need to have this book. If not, you’re not going to find much here to hang your hat on. I liked it, but then again, I’m kind of a nut for these things. All in all, a dense, dense book.