Book Review: Higgs Force, by Nicholas Mee

Imagine my excitement when I was contacted by a PR representative on behalf of author Nicholas Mee asking if I wanted to receive a review copy of a new pop-sci book on the history and recent research on the elusive Higgs particle. Now imagine my excitement when a copy of Higgs Force landed on my mat with the satisfying whump that only a book can produce, and my further excitement when I browsed the 'other titles by...' list and found that, among other publications, Mee had a hand in transferring Simon Sing's excellent The Code Book onto an excellent CD-ROM. What with all this excitement going on, I almost forgot to actually read it.

Higgs Force - The Symmetry-Breaking Force that makes the World an Interesting Place starts with a BANG (literally), introducing the main player in our story: the Universe itself. From here, we go on a whistlestop tour of science, structured around notable events, personalities and discoveries as we spiral gently down through various areas of maths, physics, chemistry and even a little biology, all serving to butter us up for the big guns of particle physics. We finish things off with all of the carefully pulled historical threads being tied together to create a description of modern physics, centreing on the search for the Higgs particle and the impact that its discovery will have on our understanding of everything.

The book is written in a friendly academic style- it's conversational in tone (including song lyrics from the likes of the Beatles and Joni Mitchell for the purposes of introducing or illustrating some ideas), but thorough and rigorous with it. I loved the easy-going mathematical angle that the sciency bits come from, and the historical commentaries do a great job of breaking these up to allow time for the reader's intellectual digestive juices to do their work. This, along with regular photographs and clearly produced diagrams, means that it'd be a great book for the interested but less mathematically confident reader, too. For those who enjoy a more interactive experience, the occasional puzzle is thrown in to encourage thinking around the subjects discussed, and there's even an accompanying website that will allow for updates and further information to be disseminated. For a popular science book it is very well referenced and provides encouragement and starting points for further reading.

In conclusion, Higgs Force takes some pretty high-end physical concepts and research and presents them in a format that pretty much anybody can start to get their head around, as long as they're armed with a general interest in the subject matter.

Higgs Force - The Symmetry-Breaking Force that Makes the World an Interesting Place is published by The Lutterworth Press and is available from Amazon in hardcover, paperback and Kindle format.


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