Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

 

  • Winner of the Canadian Science Writers Association 2014 Science in Society Book Award
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Science Book of the Season
  • A Book to Watch Out For, The New Yorker’s Page-Turner Blog
  • A Los Angeles Times Gift Guide Selection
  • One of the Best Physics Books of 2013, Cocktail Party Physics Blog, Scientific American

The incredibly small bits of matter we call neutrinos may hold the secret to why antimatter is so rare, how mighty stars explode as supernovae, what the universe was like just seconds after the big bang, and even the inner workings of our own planet.

For more than 80 years, adventurous minds from around the world have been chasing these ghostly particles, trillions of which pass through our bodies every second. Extremely elusive and difficult to pin down, neutrinos are not unlike the brilliant and eccentric scientists who doggedly pursue them.

In Neutrino Hunters, the renowned astrophysicist and award-winning writer Ray Jayawardhana takes us on a thrilling journey into the shadowy world of neutrinos and the colorful lives of those who seek them. Demystifying particle science along the way, Ray tells a detective story with cosmic implications—interweaving tales of the sharp-witted theorist Wolfgang Pauli; the troubled genius Ettore Majorana; the harbinger of the atomic age Enrico Fermi; the notorious Cold War defector Bruno Pontecorvo; and the dynamic dream team of Marie and Pierre Curie. Then there are the scientists of today who have caught the neutrino bug, and whose experimental investigations stretch from a working nickel mine in Ontario to a long tunnel through a mountain in central Italy, from a nuclear waste site in New Mexico to a bay on the South China Sea, and from Olympic-size pools deep underground to a gigantic cube of Antarctic ice—called, naturally, IceCube.

As Ray recounts a captivating saga of scientific discovery and celebrates a glorious human quest, he reveals why the next decade of neutrino hunting will redefine how we think about physics, cosmology, and our lives on Earth.

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System

In Strange New Worlds, renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana brings news from the front lines of the epic quest to find planets—and alien life—beyond our solar system. Only in the past two decades, after millennia of speculation, have astronomers begun to discover planets around other stars—thousands in fact. Now they are closer than ever to unraveling distant twins of the Earth. In this book, Ray vividly recounts the stories of the scientists and the remarkable breakthroughs that have ushered in this extraordinary age of exploration. He describes the latest findings—including his own—that are challenging our view of the cosmos and casting new light on the origins and evolution of planets and planetary systems. He reveals how technology is rapidly advancing to support direct observations of Jupiter-like gas giants and super-Earths—rocky planets with several times the mass of our own planet—and how astronomers use biomarkers to seek possible life on other worlds.

Strange New Worlds provides an insider's look at the cutting-edge science of today's planet hunters, our prospects for discovering alien life, and the debates and controversies at the forefront of extrasolar-planet research.

In a new afterword, Ray explains some of the most recent developments as we search for the first clues of life on other planets.