Review: The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter
by Jeff Foust
|What happened early in the universe’s history to favor—if by only a small amount—the creation of matter instead of antimatter?|
The authors use that mystery to take the reader on a guided tour of particle physics from the early 20th century through the present, as the field exploded with the discovery an exotic zoo of particles and theorists worked to explain how all these particles fit together in an overarching model. While physicists have taken great strides in this field, some questions—like the mystery posed in the book’s title—remain unanswered, although not for lack of effort.
Particle physics has, like other scientific fields, its own lexicon that can be baffling to outsiders, and while reading The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter one runs the risk of getting lost among terms like CP violation, J/psi particles, and leptogenesis. The authors do their best, though, to explain non-intuitive physics with plain language and analogies. (The authors write in the first person plural—“we are convinced” and “our book”, for example—with occasional, usually biographical, asides attributed to one of the authors; this is a little unusual but overall not that distracting from the flow of the text.) For those curious about why the universe is the way it is, this book is a reminder of how much we have learned about physics at its smallest and largest scales, but also how much more we have yet to understand.