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Publisher's Summary

Scientists have just announced an historic discovery on a par with the splitting of the atom: The Higgs boson, the key to understanding why mass exists has been found. In The Particle at the End of the Universe, Caltech physicist and acclaimed writer Sean Carroll takes readers behind the scenes of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to meet the scientists and explain this landmark event.

©2012 Sean Carroll (P)2012 Recorded Books

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  • Matthew
  • Nicholasville, KY, United States
  • 12-22-12

A History of Modern Particle Physics

I kept waiting for Carroll to get the point and discuss the actual Higgs Boson but the book really walks around the topic. There is a brief breakdown of the complexities of particle physics around Chapter 2 but the author blows through the details like they are an afterthought. Most of the time is spent detailing the history of the Large Hadron Collider and the engineering details that went into making it happen. Fascinating but not the book I was looking for.

I'm going pick up a copy of 'Higgs Discovery' by Lisa Randall and see how that is.

35 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 01-20-13

Higgs from beginning to end of time

This was not an easy book to understand and the particle zoo plays a large role in the discussion and often I would lose my way only because the material is sometimes hard to follow, but the book covers everything you always wanted to know about the Higgs Boson and its field, but were afraid to ask.

I absolutely loved the author's previous book, "From Eternity to Here", and couldn't wait for this book. He's such a good writer and explains better than almost anyone. There are enough good parts in this book to make the particle zoo part worth listening to.

There's one important theme that runs through the book that will make the book easier to understand. That is these five words: "not observed waves, observed particles". In the background of the universe is the Higgs field and it is the vibration of this field that gives particles their mass. The author explains this and relates it to possible solutions to dark matter and dark energy.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Great Book - If you know some physics

I just finished this book and enjoyed it. But - a caveat:

You really need to know some physics before you listen. I have a graduate degree in applied physics, and have read about quantum theory for years, so wasn't intimidated. But, if you have never had at least some undergraduate physics, I think you could be frustrated. It's not the fault of the author. He has two problems in telling his story: he can't explain all of physics in a book; and, the nature of the subject is completely unintuitive.

Even if you don't understand all the physics, you still might enjoy the people involved, and the history of the collider. It does give insight into the particle physics community.

One other small thing for me - I thought he went on a bit long at the end about why fund future physics. It started to sound a bit like testimony before a congressional committee. But I guess one is always required to explain the potential practical applications of anything in science, although personally, I think the answer "we need to understand the universe" is good enough.

Anyway, definitely worth reading if you want to learn a bit about the world of cutting edge high energy physics.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Having some knowledge in quantum theory...

will definitely help to understand this explanation of the relevance of the discovery of the Higgs, but given that, the book is clear and renders a vivid conception of what the Higgs is, what it does and why it makes everything that we are and everything that surrounds us--possible.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great book for a non-science guy

I truly enjoyed listening to this book, though I readily admit I retained probably only 10%. This is my lack of science, nothing to be reflected onto the author! I wanted to "read" it mainly because my son is a physicist-in-training.

Muons, gluons, smuons, muoninos....wow. Truly, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than I ever dreamt of, forsooth!

So I understood less than 90% of the book, and I know I will retain less than that, but the overview was fascinating. Carroll wrote a very lucid account, to my mind, always (or almost always) explaining the terms he used. He interwove non-science stories into his tale, which made the book interesting to a non-scientific type like myself.

The technical details which I have not been able to retain reflect on me, however, and not to his writing, nor to his tale of the LHC. I will be interested in reading the other reviews to see what the stumbling blocks were for other readers. One thing that I was a bit put-off by (but not enough to down-rate the book 1/2 a star) was that although he immediately identified a "fermion" as being named after Enrico Fermi, he did not identify a "boson" as being named after Dr. S.N. Bose.

Hogan was the best narrator I have heard to date. No heavy breathing, no false foreign accents, no feeling of wishing he would clear his mouth, as many other narrators do. Reading non-fiction requires a different skill-set than readers of fiction require. I will happily listen to him again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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HIGGS BOSON

Sean Carroll is a theoretical cosmologist and senior research associate at the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His most recent book is “The Particle at the End of the Universe” which is focused on the story of Higgs boson, the widely and incorrectly termed “god particle”, that may have recently been found by CERN with Large-Hadron-Collider’ experiments. (HIGGS BOSON PARTICLE CONFIRMED 7/4/2012.)

Carroll explains that experimental proofs of quantum mechanics are the reason Higgs boson, or something like it, must exist. That is why the discovery is so important. Higgs boson is the field in which known particles of the universe gain mass. Without Higgs boson or something that works like Higgs boson, life would not exist.

Carroll offers other insights—about symmetry, super-symmetry, and breaking symmetry. He touches on dark matter and string theory. All are interestingly presented.

In general, Carroll crystallizes the importance of theoretical and experimental science. When listeners finish “The Particle at the End of the Universe, they will understand why Higgs boson is a magnificent discovery and the LHC is worth a nine-billion-dollar investment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • XEVEN
  • Dover NH, United States
  • 06-28-13

INTERESTING

What made the experience of listening to The Particle at the End of the Universe the most enjoyable?

Jonathan Hogan is my favorite Narrator he simply makes it enjoyable to listen to 11 hour book

What other book might you compare The Particle at the End of the Universe to and why?

Good question. I just got finished listening to the mirror earth the intense level of high technology,research,dedication that has been invested in money,time is overwhelming.This book also made me want to go back and re-read Dance of the photons

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Hogan – was your favorite?

Himself

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

125 GEV gigavolt =125,000,000,000Billion Volts OHHHHH YEAH BABY <br/>

Any additional comments?

Im not a physicist but it would/will be very interesting to see how many real in the know physicist will actually comment on this book.. Forsurely as many that work at cern and around the world there seems there would be at least a few that would leave comments on this book giving it a thumbs up or down.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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worth a listen

Any additional comments?

pretty good; contained a lot of useful information presented from a little different angle than other books that are out there. occasionally strayed from the topic, but not much. i listened to it several times, and will listen to it again, i'm sure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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great book. not long enough

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

yes.

Any additional comments?

I think the title is dumb. This is one of the only up to date particle physics audio book. It is very good.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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excellent book

"we are matter contemplating itself". doesn't get much better than that. this book is great.