Exploring Fundamental Particles: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Exploring Fundamental Particles

1st Edition

By Lincoln Wolfenstein, Joao P. Silva

CRC Press

291 pages | 138 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781439836125
pub: 2010-09-22
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The search for the elementary constituents of the physical universe and the interactions between them has transformed over time and continues to evolve today, as we seek answers to questions about the existence of stars, galaxies, and humankind. Integrating both theoretical and experimental work, Exploring Fundamental Particles traces the development of this fascinating field, from the discoveries of Newton, Fermi, and Feynman to the detection of CP violation and neutrinos to the quest to observe the Higgs boson and beyond.

An Accessible yet In-Depth Account of How Fundamental Particles Shape Our World

The book first examines the experiments and theoretical ideas that gave rise to the standard model. It discusses special relativity, angular momentum, spin, the Dirac electron, quantum field theory, Feynman diagrams, Pauli’s neutrino, Fermi’s weak interaction, Yukawa’s pion, the muon neutrino, quarks, leptons, and flavor symmetry.

The authors then explain the violation of the symmetry between matter and antimatter, known as CP violation. They cover the discoveries of CP violation in the decays of kaons and B mesons as well as future experiments that could detect possible CP violation beyond the standard model.

In the next part, the authors present experimental results involving the once-mysterious neutrino. They explore the evidence that neutrinos have mass, new neutrino experiments in various countries, and the potential of neutrino astronomy to offer a new perspective on stars and galaxies.

The final section focuses on the one undetected particle of the standard model: the Higgs boson. The authors review the experiments that established important constraints on the mass of the Higgs particle. They also highlight recent experiments of the Tevatron particle accelerator at Fermilab, along with the near future impact of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN and the longer term impact of the International Linear Collider (ILC).

The Foundation for New Discoveries

A clear picture of the historic breakthroughs and latest findings in the particle physics community, this book guides you through the theories and experiments surrounding fundamental particles and the main forces between them. It sets the stage for the next transformation in modern science.


The authors are well qualified to undertake such an introduction to particle and high-energy physics in view of their theoretical and practical experience … For a clear and comparatively simple overview of the concepts, nomenclature and salient features of the Standard Model, this introductory text offers a wealth of information and can be recommended as a jumping off point for more detailed specialist study.

—Eric Sheldon, Contemporary Physics, 52, 2011

Table of Contents


The Foundation of Modern Physics: The Legacy of Newton

Simple Quantitative Laws

Fundamental Interactions


Cosmological Principles

Was Newton Wrong? The Relation of New Theories to Old

The Role of Probability

Waves That Are Particles; Particles That Are Waves

Particles versus Waves

What Is Light? Light Is a Wave

The Birth of Special Relativity

What Is Light? Light Is a Particle

De Broglie and Schrödinger: The Electron as a Wave

Particles That Spin

Angular Momentum and Spin


The Dirac Electron

Polarization and the Photon Spin

Understanding Quantum Electrodynamics: Feynman to the Rescue

Quantum Field Theory and Feynman Diagrams

Gregarious Particles and Lonesome Particles: Spin and Statistics

The Birth of Particle Physics: Pauli’s Neutrino, Fermi’s Weak Interaction, and Yukawa’s Pion

Electron, Proton, and Neutron

Beta Decay and Pauli’s Neutrino

Fermi’s Weak Interaction

Nuclear Forces and Yukawa’s Pion

The Muon: Who Ordered That?

The Muon Neutrino: A New Kind of Nothing

Strange Particles

Learning to Live with Gell-Mann’s Quarks

Origin of the Quark Theory

A Weekend in November: The Discovery of Charm

Another Version of the Rutherford

Scattering Experiment

Quantum Chromodynamics


Beautiful Symmetries Found and Lost

Discrete and Continuous Symmetries

Mirror Symmetry: P for Parity

Madame Wu’s Amazing Discovery

C for Charge Conjugation

CP Symmetry

T for Time Reversal

Emergence of the Standard Model

Weinberg: A Model of Leptons

The Experimental Triumph of the Standard Model

Flavor Physics

Standard Model with Two Families

Standard Model with Three Families

The Cabibbo–Kobayashi–Maskawa Matrix

Yukawa Couplings, Masses, and Mixing

Our Current View of Nature’s Building Blocks: (What We Have Learned So Far)

The Four Interactions of Nature

The Fundamental Building Blocks of Matter

Interactions Are Mediated by Particles

The Standard Model and Large Laboratories


CP Violation in Kaon Decays

The Cabibbo–Kobayashi–Maskawa Matrix: CP Violation in the Standard Model

CP Violation with B Mesons

CP Violation at the B Factories

CP Violation in the Bs System

Checking the Standard Model: The Rho-Eta Plane

CP Violation: Where Do We Go from Here?

Further Constraints on the Rho-Eta Plane

Quantities That Are Small in the Standard Model


The Mystery of the Missing Neutrinos: Neutrino Oscillations

Neutrinos from the Sun

Neutrino Astronomy: A New Way to Study the Universe

Neutrinos from Stars

Neutrinos from the Early Universe: Neutrinos as Dark Matter

Neutrino Mass and Physics beyond the Standard Model

CP Violation in Neutrino Mixing?

Experimental Search



Why We Believe in the Higgs

The Standard Model Needs the Higgs Mechanism

Theoretical Calculations Need the Higgs Particle

What We Know from Experiment So Far

Indirect Experimental Evidence for the Higgs Boson: The Importance of Virtual Effects

Detecting the Higgs Boson Directly

Direct Higgs Searches at LEP

Direct Higgs Searches at the Tevatron

What We Hope to Learn from the LHC

What Is the LHC?

Higgs Searches at LHC

Disaster? If the LHC Cannot Find the Higgs Boson

If the LHC Discovers the Higgs Boson, Is That the End of the Story?

Possibilities for the Future

Multi-Higgs Models

The Need for Further Tests and the Importance of ILC


Appendix 1: Important Twenty-First Century Experiments

Appendix 2: Renormalization, Running Coupling Constants, and Grand Unified Theories

Appendix 3: Complex Numbers, Complex Fields, and Gauge Invariance

Appendix 4: Unitary Matrices

Appendix 5: Energy and Momentum in Special Relativity and the Uncertainty Principle

About the Authors

Lincoln Wolfenstein is professor emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University. He has made landmark contributions to the particle physics community, including his prediction and study of the influence of matter on neutrino oscillations, now known as the Mikheyev–Smirnov–Wolfenstein effect. Dr. Wolfenstein has been a recipient of the J.J. Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society and the Bruno Pontecorvo Prize of the Scientific Council of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia).

João P. Silva is a faculty member at the Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa and works at the Centro de Física Teórica de Partículas. Dr. Silva was a Fulbright Scholar at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He also co-authored a research textbook on CP violation.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Nuclear Physics
SCIENCE / Physics