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See Inside November 2010

Recommended: The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs

Books and recommendations from Scientific American


The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs
by Gregory S. Paul. Princeton University Press, 2010
Artist and researcher Gregory S. Paul describes hundreds of dinosaur species in this richly illustrated compendium. Learn how beasts ranging from Allosaurus to Zuniceratops grew, moved and reproduced—and how they eventually went extinct.

EXCERPT
Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science
by Ian Sample. Basic Books, 2010
Journalist Ian Sample chronicles the search for a particle known as the Higgs boson—the key to explaining how the universe got its mass. Here he talks about the moments leading up to a 1987 meeting between Alvin Trivelpiece, then director of the Office of Energy Research, and Pres­ident Ronald Reagan about the development of a machine to find the Higgs.

“Trivelpiece had been granted 15 minutes to win the president’s support for the largest and most costly atom smasher ever conceived. A green light, the advocates said, would guarantee American dominance at the forefront of high-energy physics for decades to come. Without his backing for the project, the nation’s historic leadership in unraveling the nature of matter was sure to fade as other countries pushed on.

“The Superconducting Supercolli­­der sounded like the kind of diabolical weapon a comic-book super-villain might build in his (or her) lair to hold the world to ransom. In practice, it was the world’s first particle accelerator to be designed specifically to look for the Higgs boson.... 

“The supercollider wasn’t the only machine that had a chance of discovering the Higgs boson. At Fermilab, [physicist Leon M. Lederman’s] Tevatron had been colliding protons and antiprotons since 1985, though at energy levels too low to prove the existence of the Higgs particle. At CERN, engineers were building a new machine, the Large Electron Positron (LEP) collider, and were expecting to switch it on within two years. Both machines would need major upgrades before the scientists would have a realistic shot at discovering the Higgs boson, but at least they were up and running. In the particle accelerator business, that is no trivial achievement....

“Trivelpiece had set off early for the meeting, but along the way fell into conversation with William Martin, the deputy secretary of energy. Martin wasted no time reminding him that a lot of time and money had been spent arranging the meeting. He went on to add that all of Alvin’s friends and colleagues were relying on him to win the president over. ‘Now don’t be nervous,’ Martin said, as he turned to leave. Right up to that moment, Trivelpiece hadn’t been nervous at all.”

BOOKS
The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can’t Live Without It, by Philip Ball. Oxford University Press, 2010

Selling the Fountain of Youth: How the Anti-Aging Industry Made a Disease Out
of Getting Old—and Made Billions
, by Arlene Weintraub. Basic Books, 2010

Galileo: Watcher of the Skies, by David Wootton. Yale University Press, 2010

Creeping Failure: How We Broke the Internet and What We Can Do to Fix It, by Jeffrey Hunker. McClelland & Stewart, 2010

Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life, by Richard Cohen. Random House, 2010

Honeybee Democracy, by Thomas D. Seeley. Princeton University Press, 2010

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