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Paperback The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics Book

ISBN: 0452287863

ISBN13: 9780452287860

The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics

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Book Overview

There are two scientific theories that, taken together, explain the entire universe. The first, which describes the force of gravity, is widely known- Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. But the theory that explains everything else-the Standard Model of Elementary Particles-is virtually unknown among the general public.In The Theory of Almost Everything , Robert Oerter shows how what were once thought to be separate forces of nature were combined...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

An introduction to the greatest intellectual achievement of the human race

This review is a little bit long, however, it is more than an assessment of the book, it will also help you prepare for reading the book and explain confusing parts of the book. Imagine if we had found a two billion year old alien underground civilization under the desert in Arizona several years ago, and you still knew nothing about it, because journalists thought this information was pretty boring stuff and therefore didn't bother telling anyone about it. Well that is most likely not true, but what is true is that the general public has entirely missed the greatest scientific revolution in the history of the human race partially because mainstream media has largely ignored this information, even though the Nobel Prize committee has been raining Nobel Prizes over it. In the 70's a theory that explained, at the deepest level, nearly all of the phenomena that rule our daily lives came into existence. The theory called "The Standard Model of Elementary Particles" is a set of "Relativistic Quantum Field Theories" that explains how elementary particles behave, which elementary particles there are, and why they have the properties they have, for example, isospin, spin, charge, color charge, flavor, even mass, or mass relations in many cases. The theory explains how all of the fundamental forces in nature work except gravity. The theory describes how the elementary particles interact; decay, how long they are expected to exist, and how they combine into other sub atomic particles. The theory uses only 18 adjustable parameters to accomplish of this. In the extension the theory thus explains how nucleons and atoms are formed and what properties the atoms will have, and how molecules will form and what properties molecules will have, their chemical reactions, and what elasticity, electric conductivity, heat conductivity, color, hardness, texture, etc. any material will possess. In the extension it explains why mass and matter exist, how the sun and the stars work, and the theory is therefore the ultimate basis of all other science. It also provides a formula, or an equation of almost everything. Best of all it has been thoroughly verified experimentally, in fact the predictions the theory has made has been confirmed with such stunning accuracy and precision that it could be considered the most successful scientific theory ever. A theory that successfully unites all of physics and basically all of human knowledge of the Universe into one single theory has never before existed. However, "The Standard Model" does not incorporate gravity and the general theory of relativity, and cannot explain dark energy, dark matter and why neutrinos have mass. Therefore as soon as the theory came into existence physicists started looking for the next theory that would finish what the "The Standard Model" did not finish. Example of such theories are GUT theories, SO(5), SO(10), string theories (abandoned), super string theories, and M-theories. Even though those new


I'm a physicist, but not a particle physicist. I like reading books written for the layperson. I can broaden my knowledge a bit, and for topics I know well I can enjoy reading how someone else explains these topics. It's always helpful to have a background in physics when reading these kinds of books, but I think this book would read well for any curious reader. It seemed like a fascinating mystery novel to me. Even though I knew what the book was building up to (the Standard Model), I was excited to see how the plot unfolded. The writing is very smooth and comfortable. I had a hard time putting it down. I brought it to the beach with me. I recommend reading it twice. If you read it carefully the first time and are still confused, then a second read might straighten much of that out. You may find that some topics are still confusing. With this subject, you can't expect miracles! I'm glad the author mentioned string theory. Some particle physicists are so defensive about the Standard Model that they wouldn't mention string theory. For further study on string theory, read Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. Overall, a great book! Well written, and fun to read.

Helped me catch up to the last 30 years of particle physics!

This book is good for the interested layperson, and even better for a college student who has just had their first year physics or chemistry course and wants to see more about all the hot ideas they've been reading in the newspapers. I enjoyed this book very much. Here are several things it does better than any other popular book I've read. It gives you a glimmer of an idea of what "spontaneous symmetry breaking" means, and what it means that all the forces become unified at very high energies. It does it BETTER than other popular works I've seen. It allows you to understand what the "weak" force is, why it's called that, and what "good" it is. The four fundamental forces are gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force. Physics fans generally learn about the first three, but what the weak force is good for ("Who ordered that?" to paraphrase a certain famous physicist) has long been a puzzlement to me. In book after book, I find a single lame sentence that the weak force is involved in certain types of radioactive decay. How useless!! Oerter actually explains what the weak force is. Many popular accounts of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) dumb it down to the point where you hear "it is the most accurate theory known to mankind". They never tell you what it is accurate about! Oerter points out that QED allows one to calculate the electron gyromagnetic ratio to 10 decimal places. Gee -- sounds like a good theory! Finally, Oerter actually at one point writes down the "Grand Unified Equation" (The Lagrangian that includes all 3 fundamental forces -- but not gravity). You may not know what it means, but it sure is nice to see the equation that describes the entire universe. It's got to at least be good for a T-shirt! Despite the fact that he says he won't talk about superstrings, he does, and he does that well too. (A real feat -- I read Smolin's book on strings -- it blew my mind but didn't really illuminate me.) I'll admit that I'm a physics professor, so I'm looking for more "beef" in popular books on physics. All physicists tend to know what we teach undergraduates, but in grad school we all go to our separate sub-fields. Since I'm not a particle physicist, I'm almost as ignorant as a layperson about spontaneous symettry breaking, the Higgs field and mass creation, and what EXACTLY the standard model really is. Now I am less so!

Physics teacher Robert Oerter provides solid information

The Theory Of Almost Everything: The Standard Model describes all known physical interactions, with the exception of gravity: outside of scientific circles it receives half the attention of the chaos theory or string theory - but it's more important than either, and any with an interest in physics needs to understand "The Standard Model" to know where we're going. It blends Einstein's special relativity with quantum mechanics - and Oerter explores the theory and how it agrees with experiments. From its basic foundations to how new developments could alter its concepts, physics teacher Robert Oerter provides solid information.
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