Shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Book Prize 2011
Why does anything have mass? This simple question baffled generations of scholars, but in 1964 a British physicist named Peter Higgs, along with five others, stumbled on an answer.
Higgs's handwritten notes described an invisible field that pervades the cosmos and gives mass to the building blocks of nature. Life, he said, could not exist without it.
A tell-tale particle called the Higgs boson could prove the theory, but to produce it scientists would need to recreate the fiery conditions of the early universe.
Unwittingly, Higgs and the rest had sparked the greatest hunt in modern science. As scientists close in on the elusive prize, we stand to gain not only the secret of mass, but a door to hidden realms of the universe.
“An extraordinary book that tells the real human story behind one of the biggest science adventures of our time, managing to translate the complex concepts of particle physics into a real page-turner.”
Royal Society Winton Book prize Shortlist 2011
This was my holiday page-turner: a clear and engrossing description of the physics of the Higgs boson (with surrounding weirdness), combined with a breathless account of the leap-frogging race for its discovery. New Scientist Books of the Year
I spent the months after 4th July 2012 - or discovery day, as history will have it - interviewing many of those most caught up in the hunt for the Higgs boson. I wanted to know how they finally uncovered the particle, how the engineers pushed the Large Hadron Collider as hard as they dared, and how the scientists worked flat out, and against the clock, to pull those gold-plated signatures of the Higgs boson from the scrappy debris of countless subatomic collisions. I wanted to know how they felt as the particle showed its face. They were first to see something new in Nature.