Smashing Physics

  • by Jon Butterworth
  • Narrated by Jonathan Keeble
  • 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The first insider account of the work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the discovery of the Higgs particle - and what it all means for our understanding of the laws of nature.
The discovery of the Higgs boson made headlines around the world. Two scientists, Peter Higgs and Fran├žois Englert, whose theories predicted its existence, shared a Nobel Prize. The discovery was the culmination of the largest experiment ever run, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.
But what really is a Higgs boson and what does it do? How was it found? And how has its discovery changed our understanding of the fundamental laws of nature? And what did it feel like to be part of it?
Jon Butterworth is one of the leading physicists at CERN and this book is the first popular inside account of the hunt for the Higgs. It is a story of incredible scientific collaboration, inspiring technological innovation and ground-breaking science. It is also the story of what happens when the world's most expensive experiment blows up, of neutrinos that may or may not travel faster than light, and the reality of life in an underground bunker in Switzerland.
This book will also leave you with a working knowledge of the new physics and what the discovery of the Higgs particle means for how we define the laws of nature. It will take you to the cutting edge of modern scientific thinking.
Jon Butterworth is one of the leading physicists on the Large Hadron Collider and is Head of Physics and Astronomy at UCL. He writes the popular Life & Physics blog for the Guardian and has written articles for a range of publications including the Guardian and New Scientist.
Jon has appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Material World, The Infinite Money Cage, BBC Newsnight, Horizon, Channel 4 News, and Al Jazeera. He frequently gives public lectures including at the Welcome Institute and the Royal Institution.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Surprisingly accessible and full of personality!

I have been very interested in the Geneva LHC project. I watched a recent documentary by Jason Greenburg (I think that's his name. He's a big "super symmetry" advocator.) Unfortunately, the documentary was not focused and left me without a clue! So I've been searching books to better understand the goal and outcomes of what is possibly the biggest experiment human beings have ever conducted. I'm not from a science background, but I try to stay familiar with current science news and ideas.

In Smashing Physics, Jon Butterworth provides an excellent overview of the issues and science behind the LHC, and the search for the Higg's Boson. This guy is uncommonly talented at making complex ideas accessible to an interested lay audience!!
I was engaged and entertained throughout the book by the author and the narrator.
This is the best of the new books explaining the work done in Geneva. (At least the ones available on audio.)

Highly recommended! Narrator does an amazing job of bringing the work to life, and yet sounds like he is a serious physics guy. The accent maybe?

I will definitely look for more books by the author in the future!
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- Benoibe "audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too."


At it's best, there is a narrator with a pleasant accent and a coherent narrative to share. But the descriptions of the physics left me wanting, as did the explanations of the scientific method. It's not particularly thrilling to hear for the umpteenth time that we can't see the things we're looking at, but instead must infer them from a bump on a graph. In fact, the book led me to question the point of the endeavor - which is the one area where it really needs to succeed to be of general interest to non-physicists.

At its worst, the book felt like a scramble to capitalize on being at the right place in the right time. Its concept, which is ostensibly to provide a window into the exciting lives of the world's top physicists left me cold, as did the (feigned?) humility, which felt forced and inauthentic. The more strident the author's attempts to dispel the idea that he wasn't part of a good-old-boys network of academic elites, the less I was convinced.

For a more cogent description of the science itself, I highly recommend "The Higgs Boson and Beyond" by Sean Carroll (and also available from Audible). That course is shorter and far more interesting, without nearly as much ego or narcissism to get in the way.
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- tony mancill

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-22-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios