Shortlisted for the 2011 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books
'Sample’s exciting, easy-to-read narrative captures the collaboration, and competition, among the theorists' – Wall Street Journal
The most readable account so far of the greatest race science has ever seen.
In the early 1960s, three groups of physicists, working independently in different countries, stumbled on an idea that would change physics and fuel the imagination of scientists for decades. That idea was the ‘God particle’, or Higgs boson. To find this elementary particle would be to finally understand the origins of mass – the last building block of life itself.
Weaving together the personal stories and intense rivalries of the teams of scientists searching for the particle, Massive is a tale of grand ambition, transatlantic competition, clashing egos and occasionally spectacular failures. From the giant particle colliders built to further the scientists’ quest to the political fallout of budget blowouts and debates about whether the search might destroy the Universe, it is an epic story of imagination, personal ambition, subatomic exploration and global significance.
Drawing on his unprecedented access to Peter Higgs, the scientist after whom the particle is named, the award-winning science writer Ian Sample chronicles the science, culture and politics behind the multinational and multibillion-dollar quest to solve the mystery of mass. Until now, the story of the search has never been told. But with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Laboratory for Nuclear Research near Geneva, we may be on the cusp of discovering the God particle and with it the very origin of mass. Whichever way you look at it, this story is massive.