Friday, June 29, 2012

Some Science and a Ton of History

The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe by Frank Close

Summary: 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 physically impossible infinite percentages when they should be something simpler, like the number 1. The kind of physics that the Higgs boson represents seeks to "renormalize” field theory, forcing equations to provide answers that match what we see in the real world.
The Infinity Puzzle is the story of a wild idea on the road to acceptance. Only Close can tell it.

Review: A very detailed, very thorough review of the history of the search for renormalization of field theory, but a tad light on the science.

I enjoy quantum mechanics and quantum physics and was looking forward to this book due to the subject matter. History always has to be told when talking about developments in science since those developments do not come about in a vacuum. But there is always plenty of science too. This book focused on time lines, who discovered what, and how those discoveries came about. It was very dry and it was hard keeping track of who was who and who did what. 

All the detailed, detailed history took away from the science behind quantum field theory. This book does explain a little about quantum field theory, QED, QCD, QFD, and the Higgs boson, but the author does not go into the depth needed for such a complex subject. I was disappointed because I had been hoping to learn more about those subjects. Quantum mechanics are complex. This book might be too complex for those new to physics. I was able to understand most of the physics since I have read at least a dozen physics book. But others might not have the background needed.


Recommendation: I would only recommend this book to those with a strong background in physics or someone with a strong interest in the history of physics. 

No comments:

Post a Comment