“A fascinating discussion of research at the cutting-edge of physics.”
—Arthur I. Miller, author of Decipher the Cosmos Number
In his new book, bestselling author Amir Aczel takes us inside CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider, to discover whether this multibillion-Euro investment will fulfill its spectacular promise to recreate conditions that existed after the Big Bang.
PRESENT AT THE CREATION
The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider
By Amir D. Aczel
The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest, and by far the most powerful, machine ever built. A project of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, its audacious purpose is to re-create, in a 16.5-mile-long circular tunnel under the French-Swiss countryside, the immensely hot and dense conditions that existed some 13.7 billion years ago within the first trillionth of a second after the fiery birth of our universe. On March 30, 2010, after 16 years and billions in Euros, the LHC set a record by colliding protons at nearly the speed of light—three times the previous record for energy created. It is now crashing protons at record energy levels never created by scientists before, and it will reach even higher levels by 2013.
In Present at the Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider (Crown; October 5, 2010), Amir D. Aczel takes us inside the control rooms at CERN at key moments during what is perhaps the most anticipated experiment in the history of science to discover whether this multibillion-Euro investment will fulfill its spectacular promise. Granted exclusive access to the laboratory at CERN, Aczel logged hours of interviews with the directors and very scientists who led the LHC experiments. Told through their eyes and words, Aczel enriches all of us with a firm grounding in the scientific concepts we will need to appreciate the discoveries that will almost certainly spring forth when the full power of this great machine is finally unleashed.
For some time now, our progress in trying to understand nature at its most fundamental form has been stymied. We have reached a plateau in our quest for answers to the deepest mysteries of nature because our laboratories—particle accelerators and other means of studying small particles—have yielded little that is new. In particular, the last particle needed to complete and confirm the validity of the Standard Model of particle physics, the highly trusted twentieth-century theory that has led to many accurately verified predictions, has yet to be found. This missing ingredient of the Standard Model is called the Higgs boson, also known as the God Particle (introduced to the public at large in Dan Brown’s thriller, Angels and Demons), because it is believed to imbue all particles with their mass. Physicists believe they have come close to finding it, and there are strong experimental hints that it actually exists, but so far the Higgs has eluded all our intense efforts to discover it.
The Large Hadron Collider is believed capable of creating conditions that will allow such theoretical particles to appear. And the discovery of any “superpartner” particles holds the promise of explaining one of the most persistent mysteries in physics and astronomy: the existence of the spooky “dark matter,” first theorized in the 1930s, believed to permeate all the galaxies of the universe.
Thanks to the LHC, physical science will never be the same as we peer far deeper into the universe than ever before; uncover its structure, past and present; glimpse its future; and perhaps even decipher its meaning. This journey may well be the most adventurous one humans have ever undertaken. Present at the Creation tells the stories of the experiment’s beginnings. It also explains the various expected results enabled by the experiments, so that any reader—regardless of his or her background in science—will be able to understand and marvel at the deep significance of the complex experiments at CERN, and the implications it has on our key theories in physics and cosmology.
Will the Higgs boson make its breathlessly awaited appearance, confirming at last the Standard Model of particles and their interactions that is among the great theoretical achievements of twentieth-century physics? Will the hidden dimensions posited by string theory be revealed? Will we at last identify the nature of the dark matter that makes up 85 percent of all matter? Present at the Creation offers a backstage peek at the teams working to find the answers.
For more information, please visit: www.amirdaczel.com.
AMIR D. ACZEL is the author of 14 nonfiction books, including the international bestseller Fermat’s Last Theorem, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Award and has been translated into 22 languages. Aczel has appeared on more than 30 television programs, including the CBS Evening News, CNN, CNBC, and Nightline, and on more than 150 radio programs, including National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. Aczel is a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
PRESENT AT THE CREATION by Amir D. Aczel
On-sale: October 5, 2010; Hardcover; 288 pages; ISBN: 978-0-307-59167-8; Price: $25.99
For more information, or to speak with Amir Aczel,
please contact Dennelle Catlett at 212-782-9486 / firstname.lastname@example.org.