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Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos | [The Great Courses]

Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos

Would you like to know how the universe works? Scientists have been asking that question for a long time and have found that many of the answers can be found in the study of particle physics, the field that focuses on those impossibly tiny particles with unbelievably strange names - the hadrons and leptons, baryons and mesons, muons and gluons - so mystifying to the rest of us.
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Publisher's Summary

Would you like to know how the universe works? Scientists have been asking that question for a long time and have found that many of the answers can be found in the study of particle physics, the field that focuses on those impossibly tiny particles with unbelievably strange names - the hadrons and leptons, baryons and mesons, muons and gluons - so mystifying to the rest of us.

And now, in a fascinating and accessible series of 24 lectures, you can take the mystery out of the remarkable field that in only 100 years has unlocked the secrets of the basic forces of nature.

Professor Pollock will make you familiar with the fundamental particles that make up all matter, from the tiniest microbe to the sun and stars. And you'll also learn the "rules of the game" - the forces that drive those particles and the ways in which they interact - that underlie the workings of the universe.

The lectures have been designed to be enriching for everyone, regardless of scientific background or mathematical ability. Virtually all you'll need as you enter this fascinating world are your curiosity, common sense, and, as Professor Pollock notes, "an open mind for the occasional quantum weirdness." As you move through the lectures, you'll also gain a knowledge of how those particles fit into perhaps the greatest scientific theory of all time: the Standard Model of particle physics; a grasp of key terms like "gauge symmetry," "quantum chromodynamics," and "unified quantum field Theory;" and an appreciation of how particle physics fits in with other branches of physics - including cosmology and quantum mechanics - to create our overall understanding of nature.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    A reader of fact and fiction 04-10-14
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    "Excellent introduction for a non-physicists"

    I would recommend this to anybody who is interested in fundamental parts of our universe. Very clear presentation, easy to follow, and seems at least to me to cover the subject very well.

    I have no interest to dwell into the mathematics of particle physics, and the aim of the series of lectures is indeed to deliver as comprehensive overview of particle physics to a listener just like me.

    Very clear presentation, and I would like to listen to more material of this subject produced with such clarity and attention to delivery. Excellent!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Aldrich Las Vegas, NV USA 01-07-15
    Greg Aldrich Las Vegas, NV USA 01-07-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Fantastic but Dated"
    Would you listen to Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos again? Why?

    This is a wonderful lesson to the time it was recorded. At this point, eight or more years have passed and you need to listen to more recent works to get the updates since Professor Pollock narrated this. It is still a fantastic way to get from the beginning of particle physics to the time he gave this lecture. I found it extremely accessible and will likely listen through it again. Professor Pollock has inspired me to recent works such as "The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter" by Katherine Freese. I can't comment on that yet.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos?

    Sorry, this isn't me. I liked the whole program.


    What about Professor Steven Pollock’s performance did you like?

    I could sense his passion. This is what Professor Pollock does. I'd rather learn from a practitioner than a bystander. He uses "we" often. You can feel it, or at least I could. I would love to have been in his lectures and chatted afterwards.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, it gave me information I was interested in. I am not a Particle Physics student. I am a lifelong learner with a bent towards science. I really enjoyed his presentation of a fairly complex subject. If you are reading this, you likely are looking for what I was, so listen to the lecture.


    Any additional comments?

    Understand that he will talk about what's to come several years past. Plan for it and it is fine. Don't be frustrated that he talks about something coming in 2007. Just get an updated text to follow this. It is still a great history to the time it was recorded and well worth the investment in time (certainly more valuable than whatever you pay for the lectures).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Briggs Johnson 04-11-14
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    "Fundamental understanding of fundamental stuff."
    What made the experience of listening to Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos the most enjoyable?

    The narrator is very forgiving, and understands the listener is there to learn. Walk in with a cursory understanding of "things are made of other things", and walk out tossing around terms you now understand like "Fermion" and "Neutrino".


    What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I feel nothing really could have been done to improve the listening, aside from including PDF's with things you'll only understand after, to give the listener a sense of advancement.


    What does Professor Steven Pollock bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His tone, as mentioned, is forgiving. He keeps the atmosphere light hearted and energetic, and you never feel like you're being spoken down to.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book has no narrative, so the question more apt would be "did it make me contemplate how I exist?"

    Yes. Knowing that even smaller than the atom, even smaller than the proton, exists a level of matter so abstract that it is unseeable directly is a world changer. You will contemplate many thing you thought you knew.


    Any additional comments?

    If you need your understanding of particle physics to become greater than the base level you'll get in popular media like Cosmos and Bill Nye (which are fantastic places to start), this will explain in familiar terms to everyone where to guide your education on the next step.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Palatine, IL, United States 02-16-14
    Daniel Palatine, IL, United States 02-16-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent"
    Any additional comments?

    Nothing more to say, if you want to know about particle physics, this will be an excellent place to start, or a wonderful refresher for those who have hear it all before. Well organized and well spoken. Absolutely wonderful for those long car rides.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lydia Guildford, Australia 09-19-13
    Lydia Guildford, Australia 09-19-13
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    "Great Explanation of the Atom"
    What did you love best about Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos?

    The breaking down of the Atom


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos?

    Learning about how Atoms are broken down and studied


    Have you listened to any of Professor Steven Pollock’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This the first time I have listend to Professor Steven Pollock


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, very enjoyable


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom 03-29-14
    Tom 03-29-14
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    "A book without pages is easier to read."
    If you could sum up Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting, captivating, and informative. Thank you.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the fact it was audible and easy to turn on my laptop and plug in my ear-buds. I just listened and became informed about a subject of which I am interested.


    What about Professor Steven Pollock’s performance did you like?

    Steven Pollock seems to be very knowledgeable about the subject, "not to be sarcastic", but it was assuring to hear him talk about this subject. It did not seem like I was listening to a scripted reading.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listened in 5 sittings.


    Any additional comments?

    Thank you. I am a scientific and mechanically inclined human being. This is the kind of information I like and use in life.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    vandy Yorktown, N.Y. USA 02-15-15
    vandy Yorktown, N.Y. USA 02-15-15 Member Since 2013

    game player

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    "Who knew?"

    A truly delightful and informative guided tour through the maze of obfuscation which has kept most of us blinded and uninformed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter 01-27-15
    Peter 01-27-15
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    "Wonderfully described"

    I have lost count of the number of times I have listened to these 24 chapters and every time I pick up a fresh "nugget" of information that just thrills me.

    I would love to see 24 chapters on QCD and an update to some of the information. The Higgs boson is verified now ☺️.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Norwalk, CA, United States 01-15-15
    Anthony Norwalk, CA, United States 01-15-15 Member Since 2011

    Antonavich

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    "Understanding particle physics for the rest of us"

    This book was very informative. It helped me with my understanding of the current events which are reported on the news related to the discoveries in physics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Austin 01-06-15
    Austin 01-06-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Wow. What a great lecture!"

    I've listened to it twice now and I will probably need to listen to it again in about a month. This is an easy lecture to listen to, and follow along with. The subject matter was both deep and broad and still easy to follow along with.
    I love the teaching series, and have listened to a few other, and this is by far my favorite.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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