From the Great Wall to the Great Collider: China and the Quest to Uncover the Inner Workings of the Universe

Author:
Shing-Tung Yau and Steve Nadis
Publisher:
International Press of Boston
Category:
Physics

This book appeared in Advance Copy, a column in which NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here. Publication of NASW members’ reports in Advance Copy does not indicate NASW’s endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments, and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions. To join the discussion or submit your book, visit Advance Copy.

The 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson was a sensational triumph — the culmination of a 48-year-long search that put the finishing touches on the so-called “Standard Model” of particle physics. While the celebrations were still underway, researchers in China were making plans to continue the centuries-old quest to identify the fundamental building blocks of nature. More specifically, they began laying the groundwork for a giant accelerator — up to 100 kilometers in circumference — that would transport physics into a previously inaccessible, high-energy realm where a host of new particles, and perhaps a sweeping new symmetry, might be found.

The case for such an instrument is compelling: Even though the Standard Model can describe the behavior of particles with astounding accuracy, it is incomplete. The theory has little to say about the Big Bang, gravity, dark matter, dark energy, and other far-reaching phenomena.

This book explains how an ambitious new machine — on the scale of China’s proposed “Great Collider” — could provide us with a fuller understanding of the origins of our universe and its most basic constituents.