The Theory of Almost Everything : The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics
For fans of Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking, a guide to the most important theory in modern physics, in a tour de force of science writing
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 into a single theory by some of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. Rich with accessible analogies and lucid prose, The Theory of Almost Everything celebrates a heretofore unsung achievement in human knowledge--and reveals the sublime structure that underlies the world as we know it.
The Standard Model of Elementary Particles (the "Standard Model" to those in the know) can explain nearly everything from the workings of the sun to the structure of, say, a garbage can, but it can't explain gravity, which is why physicists still have jobs. Oerter, in this highly accessible volume, explains the Standard Model to the everyman, using literary references and easy-to-follow analogies to make clear mind-bending physics principles. Subatomic particles got you down? Think about a BB gun and a Nerf ball. String theory? Why, it's similar to a guitar, of course. Oerter concedes "the Theory of Almost Everything has major deficiencies," especially in light of the recently discovered dark matter and dark energy, and physicists are closer than ever to discovering the Theory of Everything that will supplant the Standard Model, but this relentlessly informative and digestible primer on just about everything should appease armchair scientists in the meantime.
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September 25, 2006
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