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The Quantum Frontier

, 192 pages

43 halftones, 39 line drawings

February 2009



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The Quantum Frontier

The Large Hadron Collider

The highest-energy particle accelerator ever built, the Large Hadron Collider runs under the border between France and Switzerland. It leapt into action on September 10, 2008, amid unprecedented global press coverage and widespread fears that its energy would create tiny black holes that could destroy the earth.

By smashing together particles smaller than atoms, the LHC recreates the conditions hypothesized to have existed just moments after the big bang. Physicists expect it to aid our understanding of how the universe came into being and to show us much about the standard model of particle physics—even possibly proving the existence of the mysterious Higgs boson. In exploring what the collider does and what it might find, Don Lincoln explains what the LHC is likely to teach us about particle physics, including uncovering the nature of dark matter, finding micro black holes and supersymmetric particles, identifying extra dimensions, and revealing the origin of mass in the universe.

Thousands of physicists from around the globe will have access to the LHC, none of whom really knows what outcomes will be produced by the $7.7 billion project. Whatever it reveals, the results arising from the Large Hadron Collider will profoundly alter our understanding of the cosmos and the atom and stimulate amateur and professional scientists for years to come.

Don Lincoln is a scientist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He is the author of Understanding the Universe: From Quarks to the Cosmos.

"What Lincoln does brilliantly is dispel the popular myth that the LHC was built solely to discover the Higgs boson, or 'God particle'. This is a project with a far wider reach... His fresh analogies and insights make this book very readable."

"The book is written in a very readable and entertaining style, and I can warmly recommend it to anyone with more than a passing interest in science."

"A Fermilab scientist conveys the excitement surrounding the LHC."

"This small book conveys the excitement and the importance of science's biggest ever experiment."

"I deeply enjoyed Lincoln’s very accessible discussions of antimatter and Cerenkov radiation. And the in-depth explanations of what the different calorimeters and solenoids do inside the LHC’s vast underground accelerator are fascinating."

"It is to the author’s credit that he succeeds in explaining all the major ideas at a level that should be comprehensible to a very wide readership, using little or no mathematicallanguage... The style of writing is extremely pleasant, and any reader who has an interest in particle physics, including those without any previous knowledge of the subject, should find this material accessible and interesting."

"Don Lincoln's book should be in the hands of everyone interested in physics—even if only vaguely. It conveys the excitement particle physicists feel—and everyone else should feel—about the start of the Large Hadron Collider."

" The Quantum Frontier... prepares readers with what they can anticipate when the LHC becomes operational."

" Should be in every physics library: it offers an exciting assessment of the Large Haldron Collider, which runs between France and Switzerland, and surveys just why its opening is so significant. You needn't be a physicist to appreciate its importance, and the clear explorations in layman's terms imparts excitement. Perfect for any general lending library strong in science."

"Don Lincoln's playful, energetic style took me from the fundamentals of contemporary physics through to the extremely complex and sophisticated guts of the LHC experiments, touching on everything from the Earth's 'inevitable' destruction by black holes to speculated future physics experiements in a post-LHC era. Cracking it open for the first time, I was worried that a book taking under 200 pages to cover such an ambitious topic would be riddled with sterile facts listed on after the other. But the contrary is what I found."

"[A] practical attitude is typical of The Quantum Frontier... a useful experimental companion to the many theory-oriented books on particle physics."

"Lincoln (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) uses a relaxed style to lead (and draw) the reader slowly into the complex subject matter. The text is supported by many helpful tables and figures that summarize and/or explain their topics well."

"This engaging story will be appreciated by readers interested in the frontiers of science."

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