Most Wanted Particle

Most Wanted Particle

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“A vivid account of what the process of discovery was really like for an insider.”—Peter Higgs

“Butterworth is an insider’s insider. His narrative seethes with insights on the project’s science, technology and ‘tribes,’ as well as his personal (and often amusing) journey as a frontier physicist.”—Nature

The discovery of the Higgs boson has brought us a giant step closer to understanding how our universe works. But before the Higgs was found, its existence was hotly debated. Even Peter Higgs, who first pictured it, did not expect to see proof within his lifetime. The quest to find the Higgs would ultimately require perhaps the most ambitious experiment in human history.

Jon Butterworth was there—a leading physicist on the ATLAS project at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. In Most Wanted Particle, he gives us the first insider account of the hunt for the Higgs, and of life at the collider itself—the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, 17 miles long, 20 stories underground, and designed to “replay” the original Big Bang by smashing subatomic particles at nearly the speed of light.

Writing with clarity and humor, Butterworth revels as much in the hard science—which he carefully reconstructs for readers of all levels—as in the messiness, uncertainty, and humanness of science—from the media scrutiny and late-night pub debates, to the false starts and intense pressure to generate results. He captures a moment when an entire field hinged on the proof or disproof of a 50-year-old theory—and even science’s top minds didn’t know what to expect. Finally, he explains why physics will never be the same after our first glimpse of the elusive Higgs—and where it will go from here.