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Particle Particle and nuclear physics

  1. Feb 9, 2016 #1
    I'm a high school student and I want to get into nuclear and particle physics. So, I would like some suggestions on good quality books on the topic.
    If it helps to know, I have self-studied mechanics (D. Morin), electromagnetism (Purcell and Morin), thermodynamics (Sears and Zemanski), but I did not yet studied relativity and waves (I know something about then, but I did not them "mathematically").
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2016 #2
    I can recommend two books I've just read - they're classed as "popular science" and there's limited maths; but they both build up a broad understanding of the standard model and are written by individuals active in particle physics research at Cern and directly involved in the Higgs discovery. They cover the particles (spoiler: there aren't any really :nb)), the gauge bosons and the Higgs boson (and why that isn't a gauge boson), and they also touch on super-symmetry and other models beyond the standard model. They're pretty heavy in places, but fabulously readable - don't let the "popular science" tag put you off, these are good solid reads.

    1st Recommendation: Smashing Physics by Jon Butterworth
    2nd Recommendation: The Higgs Boson and Beyond by "The Great Courses"
  4. Feb 10, 2016 #3
    What math do you know?
  5. Feb 10, 2016 #4
    How do you know whether you truly understand these books, and not just think you understand them?
  6. Feb 10, 2016 #5
    A question relevant to us all surely micromass?

    Well done anachin6000, I can't think of anyone I know that would have taken the effort to read such tomes at high school.
  7. Feb 10, 2016 #6
    Well done yes, it is good to develop an interest early, but one should not delude themselves into thinking that merely reading a textbook is understanding the content. You have to be able to solve the problems.
  8. Feb 10, 2016 #7
    Solve what problem Mondayman? Anachin6000 came to the forum looking for a recommendation on a topic he/she's interested in and all you're doing is being a dick to the OP. Why not add something positive, or are you just intent on driving people off the forum?
  9. Feb 10, 2016 #8
    I just want to ensure the OP understands that it isn't enough to just read through the textbook. That's just not how physics works. You have to be able to solve the problems. Purcell and Morin are pretty tall orders for someone just in highschool.

    You got it all wrong if you think I or anyone else here on PF is trying to drive people off the forum.

    For the OP, take a look at The Ideas of Particle Physics by Coughlin/Dodd.
  10. Feb 10, 2016 #9


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    For nuclear physics, a standard pretty easy book is Krane, Introductory Nuclear Physics.

    You can do a lot of nuclear physics without knowing much relativity, but not so for particle physics. If you want to achieve a more mathematical understanding of SR, a couple of possibilities are Taylor and Wheeler, Spacetime Physics, or my own SR book: http://lightandmatter.com/sr/ .
  11. Feb 10, 2016 #10
    If he could tell us what math he already know this would be great for a good recommendation.
  12. Feb 10, 2016 #11


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    +1 to Krane. It's pretty much the standard introductory text. Another option is Nuclear and Particle Physics: An Introduction by Martin. It's at a similar level to Krane, but is more modern and includes some particle physics. Personally, I favour Krane.
  13. Feb 11, 2016 #12
    Well, in my country we have lots of physics and math contests that have problems at that kind of level. So I would say that I understood those book and I am able to solve problems, since I am working problems daily and get pretty good results in those contests.
  14. Feb 11, 2016 #13
    I can understand pretty much anything related to calculus, but I still have some problems in computing integrals (like integrating along a curve). I also know what there is to know about vectors and complex numbers. Also algebra is not a problem.
  15. Feb 13, 2016 #14


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    anachin runs into the typical problem of self-learners. Many people think, you don't understand a subject only because you study university texts during high school. I've had a similar experience. When I tried to ask my highschool teachers about problems in my reading math books (which by the way were better to understand than the school books used at high school), they didn't take this very seriously and usually couldn't help. This only changed with my physics teacher, who was not a teacher but went to school teaching after some years as a postdoc in atomic physics. She always was very helpful and even gave me more books to study. So don't be discouraged by some of the comments in this thread. If you are able to solve the problems in these books, you should have a pretty good understanding of the subject.

    Concerning the question about nuclear and particle physics: I also like Krane. Another good one is

    B. Povh et al, Particles and Nuclei, Springer (2015)

    More to the particle side is

    O. Nachtmann, Elementary Particle Physics, Concepts and Phenomena, Springer (1990)

    It's a bit older and thus not covering some interesting topics like neutrino oscillations, it's one of the best books to introduce to the Standard Model. It includes the minimum of quantum field theory without which a good understanding of the subject is impossible, but it's still solidly based in the empirical foundations, including short and interesting sections on the history of discovery and theory development.

    At the popular-science level, I find the best book is

    L. Ledermann, D. Teresi, The God Particle

    Despite the stupid title it's a marvelous explanation of the fundamental principles of particle physics.
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