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Neutrino (edition 2010)
by Frank Close
Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199574596, Hardcover)Neutrinos are perhaps the most enigmatic particles in the universe. These tiny, ghostly particles are formed by the billions in stars and pass through us constantly, unseen, at almost the speed of light. Yet half a century after their discovery, we still know less about them than all the other varieties of matter that have ever been seen.
In this engaging, concise volume, renowned scientist and popular writer Frank Close gives a vivid account of the discovery of neutrinos and our growing understanding of their significance, also touching on some speculative ideas concerning the possible uses of neutrinos and their role in the early universe. Close begins with the early history of the discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel and Marie and Pierre Curie, the early model of the atom by Ernest Rutherford, and problems with these early atomic models, and Wolfgang Pauli's solution to that problem by inventing the concept of neutrino (named by Enrico Fermi, "neutrino" being Italian for "little neutron"). The book describes how the confirmation of Pauli's theory didn't occur until 1956, when Clyde Cowan and Fred Reines detected neutrinos, and reveals that the first "natural" neutrinos were finally detected by Reines in 1965 (before that, they had only been detected in reactors or accelerators). Close takes us to research experiments miles underground that are able to track neutrinos' fleeting impact as they pass through vast pools of cadmium chloride and he explains why they are becoming of such interest to cosmologists--if we can track where a neutrino originated we will be looking into the far distant reaches of the universe.
In telling the story of the neutrino, Close offers a fascinating portrait of a strand of modern physics that sheds light on everything from the workings of the atom and the power of the sun.
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:48 -0400)
"In 1960, the theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli predicted the presence of a tiny particle that would be emitted in certain radioactive transitions. It would be without charge, virtually massless, and would rarely interact with matter. But how do you detect a ghost particle? Relics of the Big Bang and constantly generated in the Sun and other stars, these extraordinary particles stream through the Earth in their billions as if there was nothing there. As Frank Close puts it: 'If we could see with neutrino eyes, night would be as bright as day: neutrinos from the Sun shine down on our heads by day and up through our beds by night, undimmed.' In this intriguing account, Frank Close tells of the first indications in theory that such a particle must exist, and the struggle to 'catch' neutrinos, and then to understand their nature. It is a story involving a variety of characters -- and gallons of washing-up liquid in tanks in mines deep underground. Tiny they may be, but neutrinos carry information from the depths of distant stars and galaxies. They have given rise to a whole branch of astronomy, and through them we can probe the early moments of the Universe itself."--Book jacket.
(summary from another edition)
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