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Publisher's Summary

Would you like to know how the universe works? Scientists have been asking that question for a long time and have found that many of the answers can be found in the study of particle physics, the field that focuses on those impossibly tiny particles with unbelievably strange names - the hadrons and leptons, baryons and mesons, muons and gluons - so mystifying to the rest of us.
And now, in a fascinating and accessible series of 24 lectures, you can take the mystery out of the remarkable field that in only 100 years has unlocked the secrets of the basic forces of nature.
Professor Pollock will make you familiar with the fundamental particles that make up all matter, from the tiniest microbe to the sun and stars. And you'll also learn the "rules of the game" - the forces that drive those particles and the ways in which they interact - that underlie the workings of the universe.
The lectures have been designed to be enriching for everyone, regardless of scientific background or mathematical ability. Virtually all you'll need as you enter this fascinating world are your curiosity, common sense, and, as Professor Pollock notes, "an open mind for the occasional quantum weirdness." As you move through the lectures, you'll also gain a knowledge of how those particles fit into perhaps the greatest scientific theory of all time: the Standard Model of particle physics; a grasp of key terms like "gauge symmetry," "quantum chromodynamics," and "unified quantum field Theory;" and an appreciation of how particle physics fits in with other branches of physics - including cosmology and quantum mechanics - to create our overall understanding of nature.
©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Greg on 01-07-15

Fantastic but Dated

Would you listen to Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos again? Why?

This is a wonderful lesson to the time it was recorded. At this point, eight or more years have passed and you need to listen to more recent works to get the updates since Professor Pollock narrated this. It is still a fantastic way to get from the beginning of particle physics to the time he gave this lecture. I found it extremely accessible and will likely listen through it again. Professor Pollock has inspired me to recent works such as "The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter" by Katherine Freese. I can't comment on that yet.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos?

Sorry, this isn't me. I liked the whole program.

What about Professor Steven Pollock’s performance did you like?

I could sense his passion. This is what Professor Pollock does. I'd rather learn from a practitioner than a bystander. He uses "we" often. You can feel it, or at least I could. I would love to have been in his lectures and chatted afterwards.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, it gave me information I was interested in. I am not a Particle Physics student. I am a lifelong learner with a bent towards science. I really enjoyed his presentation of a fairly complex subject. If you are reading this, you likely are looking for what I was, so listen to the lecture.

Any additional comments?

Understand that he will talk about what's to come several years past. Plan for it and it is fine. Don't be frustrated that he talks about something coming in 2007. Just get an updated text to follow this. It is still a great history to the time it was recorded and well worth the investment in time (certainly more valuable than whatever you pay for the lectures).

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26 of 26 people found this review helpful

By Gary on 05-19-15

Demystifies particles

The choice is yours. You can let the popular media and the Mystics continue to tell you that particles physics is woo and mysticism or you can listen to this highly accessible lecture and realize what particle physics is all about and learn why neutrinos are so important, what c-p violation means, and what makes up the universe at the most fundamental level.

The lecturer doesn't tell you anything without first telling you the context and how we know what we know. I still don't understand what a photon really is or what exactly is meant by spin, but that's not the fault of the lecture. It's more that their real meaning is tied up with esoteric mathematics and the lecture stays away from the math.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By D. J. Morris on 06-08-15

Perfectly pitched

Very well presented, enthusiastic introduction to particle physics, very much looking forward to extending my understanding since the Higgs was (with high probability) discovered in 2013. Prof Pollock's delivery is hugely engaging, and he never assumes any knowledge beyond a general appreciation of the scientific method. Would have liked some links to reference material, but Wikipedia sufficed to give a visual representation of the Standard Model as Prof Pollock built up the picture. Absolutely recommended to anyone with an enquiring mind, and with some 30 min slots in their day which can be dedicated to listening!

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

By amy on 01-04-18

well worth a listen

brilliant guide through the history of discoveries. would be nice to be updated about higgsboson

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Customer Reviews

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By Ryan on 07-16-16

good starts of basic but gets involved

what it says to be. introduction course but gets pretty in depth after a while

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

By Simone on 05-26-15

Fascinating and understandable

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. It is pitched at the audience it proclaims to be (i.e. non-physicists). With no more than High school physics and having read one or two books on related subjects, I found this course delivered in a manner I could understand (not a trivial feat given the highly mathematical nature of the topic). This is also where the course in my opinion shines the most: Prof. Pollock manages to make a largely theoretical and abstract body of research accessible to an everyday audience. He uses analogies where possible and cuts out the mathematical details to avoid detracting from the understanding of the big picture or concept. The technical terms required for understanding of the subject are always well explained and a basic revision is brought up if the term hasn’t been used for a while and appears again in a chapter.
The structure of the course is another strong point. Prof. Pollock commences with a historic recount of how our understanding of the building blocks of nature evolved to get us to the present day ‘standard model of particle physics’. He makes it easy to follow the reasoning and illuminates the history of particle physics with the important experiments, discoveries and scientists involved. Further he often cites interesting anecdotes about a particular scientist or experiment which helps to bring the content to life for the listener and illuminates the at times quirky characters involved.
Overall it is more than a mere introduction to particle physics, it is a very comprehensive course (for the layman).
The only drawback I can think of is that the material is current as of 2003 and particle physics has obviously moved on since then.
Ultimately though I feel the course has equipped me with the knowledge and understanding required to do further reading myself and has certainly deepened my interest in the subject.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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