"Take a deep breath! You have just inhaled oxygen atoms that have already been breathed by every person who ever lived. At some time or another your body has contained atoms that were once part of Moses or Isaac Newton." So begins this spectacular illustrated tour of the subatomic world, the science of particle physics and its attempts to understand the very nature of matter and energy.
The Particle Explosion is the first book to describe to the general reader how the study of basic particles by scientists over the last hundred years has led us closer to an understanding of the origins of the Universe. Particle physicists are attempting to answer such questions as: How did the Universe begin? Why does it have the form it does? Will it continue expanding forever or will it eventually begin to contract?
With over 300 illustrations, the book brings together many fascinating historical pictures of leading scientists in the field and the actual images in which the particles were first identified. There are photographs of the increasingly vast and complex equipment they use (bubble chambers, accelerators and modern electronic detectors) as well as some of the most striking images of particle tracks that they have recorded.
This journey to the heart of matter opens with an introduction to the basic particles (the subatomic "zoo" that includes quarks, electrons, leptons, 'strange' particles and 'charmed' particles) and of the methods used to create and investigate them. The even-numbered chapters tell the story of their discovery, from the first experiments with X-rays and the elucidation of the nature of the atom, to the great machines that today smash particles together at enormous energies and the underground caverns where physicists are seeking confirmation of a Grand Unified Theory. The odd-numbered chapters describe the major particles in more detail. The book ends with an explanation of how some of the particles have been put to work in the service of medicine, industry, and even the detection of art forgeries!