The Matter of Everything: How Curiosity, Physics, and Improbable Experiments Changed the World

Knopf. Jan. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780525658757. $30. SCI
From cathode-ray tubes to x-rays to particle accelerators, key experiments in classical physics and quantum mechanics have led to a greater understanding of the nature of matter and the world. Sheehy (accelerator physics, Univ. of Oxford and Univ. of Melbourne) selected 12 ground-breaking experiments from the past century to the present in order to tell the story of what constitutes matter at its essence, namely subatomic particles and the forces that act upon it. This area of physics—known as particle physics—came about as a result of an accumulation of knowledge that scientists gleaned from experiments with light and radiation, for example, and the technologies invented, such as particle colliders, in order to test their theories. The author describes each experiment and the science behind it with accessible language and shows how they have led to life-changing discoveries in the field of medicine, computing, and communications, among others.
VERDICT Readers curious about the important breakthroughs in physics will appreciate this conceptualized overview of some of the most innovative and influential experiments, which advanced the understanding of the fundamental nature of reality.
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