Yau/Nadis: From the Great Wall to the Great Collider

Cover: From the Great Wall to the Great Collider

Cover: From the Great Wall to the Great Collider by Shing-Tung Yau and Steve Nadis (NASW member)


Steve Nadis (NASW member) and Shing-Tung Yau
International Press, October 23, 2015, $29.50
ISBN: 9781571463104

Nadis reports:

My involvement in this project grew out of a multiyear writing collaboration I’ve had with Shing-Tung Yau, a Harvard mathematician whose work is closely entwined with physics. Yau told me about plans to build the world’s largest particle accelerator in China, a possible successor to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Having written about physics, astrophysics, and cosmology for more than three decades, I sensed that China’s “Great Collider” could make a great story — one that might appeal both to Western and Asian readers.

We chose a Boston-area academic publisher, International Press (IP), for several reasons. Because of my coauthor’s close ties to IP, we didn’t have to write an elaborate proposal. IP could turn out a book extremely fast, going from page proofs to bound copies in less than two months. IP also arranged for a Chinese translation, opening up a potentially big market.

Steve Nadis

Steve Nadis, photo by Kate Connell

I spent two weeks in China in August 2014, a trip arranged through the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing. IHEP made sure that my days were packed: I met with dozens of physicists and toured numerous facilities, including an electron-positron accelerator in Beijing, an underground neutrino experiment outside of Hong Kong, and a potential Great Collider site near the East China Sea. Some of my workdays went from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., which was hard for a long-time freelancer who is used to setting his own schedule.

Shing-Tung Yau

Shing-Tung Yau, photo by Susan Towne Gilbert

The really hard work did not begin until I returned to the United States, when my coauthor and I had to figure out how to shape the material I’d collected in China — and more — into a book. This is the most creative part of the endeavor, as well as the part I find most intellectually challenging. Our manuscript was largely complete nine months later. We sent it to IP in June and, after editing, it went to the printers in September.

While the book describes the Chinese proposal in some detail, the most important part of the discussion, in my view, concerns the exciting science that could be done at a facility of this scale.

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