January 20, 1993
The quest began in 430 B.C. when a Greek philosopher smelled bread baking and imagined that an invisible particle might be the building block of all matter. He called it the a-tom – “that which cannot be cut” – and its pursuit has become science’s longest-running experiment. Now, in a book of dazzling originality, Nobel laureate Leon Lederman tells the story of the 2,500-year search for the answer to an ancient question: what is the world made of?
Lederman joined the search in the 1950s, and his many contributions to our understanding of subatomic architecture have ranked him among the foremost experimental physicists in the world. The God Particle is yet another remarkable achievement: drawing on a lifetime of research and teaching, Lederman shines such a clear light on the mysteries of matter that they are at last understandable to everyone. With great wit and erudition, he describes the long string of Eureka moments that have brought us tantalizingly close to unlocking the last secrets of the universe. Galileo, Newton, Faraday, Rutherford, and Einstein are just a few the heroes in Lederman’s tale, each one a brilliant detective looking for clues behind the veil of matter.
The past fifty years have brought the development of the most complex experimental tool ever built – the particle accelerator, an immensely powerful knife that cuts matter into quarks and leptons and reveals the forces that drive them. Lederman explains how accelerators work and argues passionately for the need for a huge new machine that can find the ultimate a-tom. He believes that this particle – the God Particle – orchestrates the cosmic symphony, and he dreams of its discovery, hoping it will reduce the laws of physics to an equation so simple that it can fit on a T-shirt.
Using humor, metaphor, and vivid storytelling, Leon Lederman takes us on an adventure into an invisible world. The God Particle is a celebration of human curiosity, a thrilling book by a man whose genius for discovering the secrets of the universe is matched by his gift for illuminating the wonders of science.
Leon Lederman discovered several pieces of the subatomic puzzle, and in 1988 he shared the Nobel Prize for physics. He was director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory from 1979 to 1989 and architect of the plan to construct the Superconducting Super Collider now being built in Waxahachie, Texas. A longtime educator, he is chairman of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and co-author with David Schramm of From Quarks to the Cosmos. Now a professor at Illinois Institute of Technology, he lives in the Hyde Park section of Chicago.