A collision course worth staying on

An Introduction to the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Second Edition

November 23, 2007

The standard model of particle physics is a remarkably successful theory describing the interactions of the fundamental constituents of matter by three of the four forces of nature: the electromagnetic force and the strong and weak nuclear forces. For more than 20 years, the standard model has been subjected to detailed tests in particle physics experiments and passed with impressive precision. However, many fundamental questions remain unanswered, leading most physicists to believe there may be a more fundamental theory, with the hope that the large hadron collider at Cern, which will be commissioned next year, will finally give us a glimpse of physics beyond the standard model.

An Introduction to the Standard Model of Particle Physics is a concise exposition of the theory's key elements at a level aimed at postgraduate students in particle physics. One of the topics covered is the Higgs boson, the hitherto missing ingredient of the standard model that will be eagerly sought at the large hadron collider, which is introduced briefly, although without a discussion of the mechanisms by which it might be discovered.

There is a nice explanation of how the experiments at the large electron- positron accelerator at Cern established that there are precisely three types of neutrino: a fundamental result both in particle physics and in cosmology.

The generalised beta decay processes, in which the quark changes its flavour and which are being used extensively to explore the limits of the standard model, are reviewed with an explanation of the significance of the results.

The most exciting discovery in particle physics in recent years has been that neutrinos oscillate and hence have mass. In the standard model neutrinos are massless, and this result provides the first pointers towards new physics.

The book has been updated to account for the successes of the theory of strong interactions, and the observations on matter-antimatter asymmetry. There are four new chapters on the important subject of neutrino physics in general and the discovery of neutrino masses in particular.

Who is it for? As the authors acknowledge, the material is not suf- ficient for theoreticians to perform calculations at research level. The text will be most valuable to postgraduate students in experimental particle physics and advanced undergraduates undertaking specialised courses and projects.

Presentation: The layout and structure are good but the presentation of modern particle physics is rather concise.

Would you recommend it? Yes, as an introductory text for postgraduate experimenters or advanced undergraduate students.

Chris Sachrajda is professor of physics at Southampton University, a member of the Astronomy Research Council and a fellow of the Royal Society.

An Introduction to the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Second Edition

Author - W. N. Cottingham and D. A. Greenwood
Publisher - Cambridge University Press
Pages - 292
Price - £30.00 and $52.00 (e-book)
ISBN - 9780521852494 and 5111366 (e-book)

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