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The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly…

by Frank Close

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1673143,324 (3.54)3
"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"--Provided by publisher. Many mysteries of the atom have came unraveled, but one remains intractable- what Frank Close calls the "Infinity puzzle'. The problem was simple to describe. Although clearly very powerful, quantum field theory was making one utterly ridiculous prediction: that certain events had an infinite probability of occurring. The Infinity Puzzle charts the birth and life of the idea, and the scientists, who realized it. Based on numerous firsthand interviews and extensive research, this book captures an era of great mystery and greater discovery. Even if the Higgs boson is never found, renormalization- the pursuit of an orderly universe- has led to one of the richest and most productive intellectual periods in human history.--[book jacket]… (more)
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This is good ( where else will you find " Recall that structure occurs because fermions are like cuckoos, whereas bosons are like penguins. " ) But I couldn't real all of it as I had to give it back , and the library here is screwed now ~ ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
This is good ( where else will you find " Recall that structure occurs because fermions are like cuckoos, whereas bosons are like penguins. " ) But I couldn't real all of it as I had to give it back , and the library here is screwed now ~ ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
The main title alludes to renormalization, the mathematical trick used to eliminate calculational divergences in quantum electrodynamics, the theory of electroweak unification (Higgs mechanism, massive bosons), etc. The book is a long and detailed, popular-level, personality-oriented history, complete with false starts and dead ends, including quite a few of the lesser-known (to me at least) contributing physicists. Its heart is the electroweak story but, with the development of quantum chromodynamics (strong-force theory -- quarks and gluons) also being traced, it ends up having covered the whole Standard Model. Not a quick read, but a very good one.
  fpagan | Mar 20, 2012 |
Showing 3 of 3
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"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"--Provided by publisher. Many mysteries of the atom have came unraveled, but one remains intractable- what Frank Close calls the "Infinity puzzle'. The problem was simple to describe. Although clearly very powerful, quantum field theory was making one utterly ridiculous prediction: that certain events had an infinite probability of occurring. The Infinity Puzzle charts the birth and life of the idea, and the scientists, who realized it. Based on numerous firsthand interviews and extensive research, this book captures an era of great mystery and greater discovery. Even if the Higgs boson is never found, renormalization- the pursuit of an orderly universe- has led to one of the richest and most productive intellectual periods in human history.--[book jacket]

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Nei calcoli matematici, essenziale impalcatura di ogni teoria fisica, non devono comparire infinità, cioè termini che tendono all'infinito. Lo spettro delle infinità si è a lungo aggirato nella fisica teorica del XX secolo perché l'interpretazione quantistica, integrata in quella relativistica, produceva per tutte le ipotesi teoriche una moltitudine di elementi in ogni calcolo che spesso tendeva a sfuggire di mano, portando a valori infiniti le somme dei contributi. Ma la fisica si basa su misurazioni, esprimibili con numeri finiti. Soltanto un procedimento sistematico di valutazione dei contributi stessi può salvare la struttura di una teoria. Durante il secolo scorso, i più importanti fisici teorici si sono impegnati a "rinormalizzare" le diverse interazioni (le forze che agiscono nel mondo materiale) superando le difficoltà che si presentavano con nuove proposte più convincenti, subito convalidate da verifiche sperimentali. Frank Close ci presenta in tutti i suoi aspetti - scientifici, politici ed economici - questa lunga avventura, che è culminata con la realizzazione della più grande e più costosa macchina del mondo, il grande collisore di adroni, l'LHC del CERN di Ginevra, in grado di simulare i primi istanti dell'universo successivi al Big Bang. E proprio gli esperimenti condotti con questo enorme apparato sotterraneo hanno consentito di verificare la proposta di un nuovo e coerente quadro del mondo materiale.
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