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Enjoy Our Universe is a guide for an enjoyable visit to the Universe. The "Universe" refers to all "observable things," ranging in size from the entire cosmos to elementary particles. This small tome on fundamental physics, cosmology, Higgs bosons, time travel and all that, is unlike any other analogous book. Its scientific statements are correct or, at least, they coincide with the opinions held by the vast majority of experts. It establishes clear distinctions between things we know for sure — in the sense of having strong observational support for them — and things that we know that we do not know, or we do not understand. In this sense, it is scientifically honest. 

In descriptions of our Universe and of the way it functions, beauty is a recurring word. In an attempt to portray its beauty from the eyes of the beholder, the book is profusely illustrated. Its offbeat, tongue-in-cheek illustrations greatly enhance its readability, particularly in those chapters whose understanding, admittedly, requires a little extra effort. This book's idiosyncracies remind us of our own smallness and eccentricities even as we read about the logic, function and magnificence of the Universe.

"Enjoy Our Universe: You Have No Other Choice", by Alvaro De Rújula,
 Oxford University Press, 2018, ISBN 9780198817802

 


                                                     

CERN Courier Bookshelf
July/August 2018
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July 1962 – CERN to America, via Telstar

At CERN, in July 1962, 60 hours of feverish preparation culminated in 60 seconds of history-making television. On the evening of 23 July, some two hundred million viewers in Europe and North America had a short glimpse of CERN at work during the first direct transmission relaying electromagnetic waves from Europe to the USA via an artificial satellite.

 

Telstar was an international collaboration that included NASA, AT&T, Bell Labs (who carried out the construction work) and the French and British national post offices. Read more in the CERN Courier, including why Switzerland chose to devote its one minute of allotted airtime to our laboratory; learn more about Telstar from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

CERN Courier Bookshelf
June 2018
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June 1973 – All hands to the pumps!

On 12 June 1973, staff at Geneva airport measured winds gusting up to 47 knots. A few kilometres away, where CERN lay right in the path of the storm, it was even worse. Torrential rain and hail devastated neighbouring vineyards and caused havoc inside the laboratory. Roads turned to rivers and buildings to swimming pools. The Proton Synchrotron was shut down as water in the basement rose to 1.80 metres.

 

Muddy water forced up from the drains made matters worse, but all staff mucked in to help. When the floods receded, everything had to be hosed down (treatment not usually recommended for electrical equipment!) and the repair gangs and cleaners got on with the slow job of recovery. See more pictures and a link to the CERN Courier article here.

CERN Courier Bookshelf
May 2018
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May 1971 – Inauguration of Gargamelle

CERN’s Gargamelle bubble chamber was 4.8 metres long by 2 metres in diameter, weighed 1,000 tonnes, and held nearly 12 cubic metres of heavy-liquid Freon. It was inaugurated on 7 May 1971 with a day of speeches, visits and lunch for the journalists and other guests. This short film, made a few months earlier, describes the design, construction and operation of the giantess.  

 

Early results from Gargamelle provided crucial evidence for the existence of quarks, and in July 1973 the Gargamelle collaboration presented the first direct evidence of the weak neutral current. The pictures that made the tracks of particles visible as trails of bubbles, yielding these scientific results, are also extremely beautiful. The one shown dates from 1978; you can see more, and some of their interpretive sketches, here.

CERN Courier Bookshelf
March 2018
CERN Courier Bookshelf
April 2018

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