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The Higgs Boson and Beyond

Narrated by: Sean Carroll
Length: 6 hrs and 20 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Physics
5 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

Non-member price: $17.56

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Publisher's Summary

The discovery of the Higgs boson is a triumph of modern physics. The hunt for the Higgs was the subject of wide media attention due to the cost of the project, the complexity of the experiment, and the importance of its result. And, when it was announced with great fanfare in 2012 that physicists has succeeded in creating and identifying this all-important new particle, the discovery was celebrated around the world.

And yet, virtually no one who read that news could tell you what, exactly, the Higgs boson was, and why its discovery was so important that we had to spend 10 billion dollars and build the single largest and most complex device in the history of mankind in order to find it. When you understand the details, this story ranks as one of the most thrilling in the history of modern science.

Award-winning theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, a brilliant researcher as well as a gifted speaker who excels in explaining scientific concepts to the public, is perfectly positioned to tell this story. In this 12-lecture masterpiece of scientific reporting, you'll learn everything you need to know to fully grasp the significance of this discovery, including the basics of quantum mechanics; the four forces that comprise the Standard Model of particle physics; how these forces are transmitted by fields and particles; and the importance of symmetry in physics.

You also get an in-depth view of the Large Hadron Collider - the largest machine ever built, and the device responsible for finally revealing the concept of the Higgs boson as reality. By the end, you'll understand how the Higgs boson verifies the final piece in the Standard Model of particle physics, and how its discovery validates and deepens our understanding of the universe.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 The Great Courses (P)2015 The Teaching Company, LLC

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

pretty serious listening!

good content and well delivered, it gets pretty overwhelming at times, certainly harder to follow than other similar great courses lectures

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!

Enjoyable, intriguing , well read and researched. Sean has a fantastic mind and is a great teacher! Recommended for anyone with an interest in this field.

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  • Jon Dahl
  • 12-03-2015

Very well done

Sean Carroll gives a great summary about the history and discovery of the Higgs boson. The depth of which he explains is really good for those with some knowledge about particle physics, but you don't need to know too much about the subject and still not get lost in all the details.

I recommend listening to "Particle Physics for Non-Phycisists: A Tour of the Microcosmos" before diving in to this one. It gives a lot of good background information about the elementary particles as well as the different forces. "The Higgs Boson..." goes in some depth into the weak force, and I would say it is crucial to have some knowledge in this field before starting the lecture.

Sean Carroll is really experienced and great at giving these lectures. I also recommend "Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time" by Sean Carroll.

What are you waiting for? Give it a go!

64 of 67 people found this review helpful

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  • Jerome Robbins
  • 25-02-2015

Masterfully done

This lecturer provides sufficient background to make comprehensible a very arcane body of knowledge based on.complex mathematics while only alluding to the math and not requiring the listener to get lost in those details.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Digitalmonster
  • 18-06-2015

Fascinating audiobook

I just finished listening for the third time and each time I enjoy it and understand the concepts involved a little more. This is a perfect supplement to the great courses audiobook "particle physics for non physicists"

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam
  • 26-03-2015

outstanding

My only complaint is that this course is shorter than most others in this series. It is so well done. I was utterly addicted from start to finish.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Ivan B. Ahlert
  • 13-05-2015

A book for people curious to learn about the Higgs

Any additional comments?

The topic is itself very interesting and timely in view of the recent confirmation of the discovery of the Higgs Boson, and the story is very well narrated. I am sure that other readers with an interest in particle physics will also enjoy this book. One minor downside is that – as in practically any of the many other books on physics for non-physicists that I have read so far (I am an engineer) – there are passages were I got lost in the explanations. I also missed more explanations as to how exactly the Higgs field interacts with certain particles to give them mass, and whether this field is uniformly spread across the universe and along time, which sounds strange, but which otherwise would result in particles acquiring different masses in different places or times.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Frank
  • 27-06-2015

Challenging material

This was good but was difficult for me to keep up with as an amateur. The description read like the other science courses but was significantly more challenging.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Writer 587
  • 01-07-2015

Higgs or physics review?

Too much scientific detail for the general audience, in what was essentially a review
of the history of particle physics and less about the Higgs itself until the later chapters, which could have been enlarged and focused on. I liked the descriptions of the LHC itself.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Marc
  • 29-04-2015

Passion for particles - dark matter is for WIMPs!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Higgs Boson and Beyond to be better than the print version?

Not having access to the printed version of this book I tend to assume that the printed version is far better - since the sheer amount of particle names, boson names, subliconistic farwongle names and terms or expressions for names of things that haven't been named in some memorizable scheme just blows a poor listener's mind.
That said, the printed version most likely lacks the passion and personal involvement Mr. Carroll brings to the stew, so I may still prefer the audio book ...

Who was your favorite character and why?

Strange question for a book on quantum physics, but, since you ask, my favorite actually isn't the Higgs (that'd be far too easy), but the WIMPs.
You don't know what WIMPs are? Well ... listen to this book/lecture, here you have a good reason.

What about Professor Sean Carroll’s performance did you like?

I really prefer lectures by those who were or are personally involved in what they talk about to sessions with spider-web covered, dust-settled old figures who never ever seem to have seen the light of day but learned what they pretend to know from books that someone else had read to them.
Mr. Carroll is a good example of this (the positive): He's "been there". He loves his topic, he wants his audience to get, at least, a glimpse of what those CERN-egg-heads are excited about. He tries hard (and, for me, succeeds) in giving an insight into what modern physics believe to be somewhat near to may be closely related to a thing one might call, for lack of better terms, truth-affine. At parts.

Any additional comments?

Although Mr. Carroll, after having explained that "particles" in the current world-view of physics really are waves or "ripples in wave fields", if I may put it that way, falls back to the more "classic" use of "particles" as something grasp-able, for me personally the image of interfering fields with waves, ripples in interactions is, by far, better understandable, especially when talking about the interactions of the different particle types. So, having this "image" in my back head, I was able to follow even those parts of the lectures where some illustrations might really have made understanding a lot easier ...

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Kitty
  • 05-04-2018

Mind = Blown

As a layman I found that most of this went completely over my head but it is presented very well and very, very interesting. I think I will have to go back to a bit more of a "physics for dummies" type course and come back and listen to this again when I have a better grasp of the basics.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • 1DrummingAddict
  • 06-05-2015

Great course! Detailed and concise.

This was one of my favorite Great Courses so far. I loved the detail and ease of explanation of the intricate topics in a way that non-physicists can understand and follow.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Miakatt
  • 14-03-2016

Enlightening

Even after completing a PhD in experimental physics at CERN, including courses in field theory and the standard model, I found this lecture series explained the subject so well that it was like watching a very complicated jigsaw coming together. Brilliantly explained.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Roger Marlow
  • 22-06-2016

Beyond the usual pop science treatment

I had almost given up on popular expositions of modern physics: clichéd, patronising and hackneyed. This course could not be more different. What a joy to hear an expert in full flow, in full command of the subject and not glossing, skipping over difficult concepts or resorting to feeble analogies. You feel as if he is speaking to you as a peer, as someone who is designing detectors at CERN or working with the standard model. I will be listening again and learning as much the second time round.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary Cooper
  • 04-03-2015

Answers the "so what" about the Higgs Boson

I'd previous read Lee's book about the discovery of the Higgs Boson - "the Particle at the end of the Universe" and this course compliments it brilliantly.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Disco
  • 05-04-2019

Dive in, it's great!

I'm very much an average Joe when it comes to these things. I didn't study physics after the age of 16 and my maths reports weren't, er, glowing. I've read a few popular science books.

So, would I, with the best will in the world, understand this? Well, no lot all of it...but a good deal of it, and I thoroughly enjoyed being taken on this amazing journey.

Prof Carroll has a soothing purr of a voice. He manages to sound very relaxed while also speaking with great precision. He often repeats an idea over a few sentences which, for me, is great.
It gives your brain time to take it in. He explanations are very clear.

In summary, if you're a bit worried that this might be more than you can chew (as I was) just dive in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Denis Rono
  • 20-02-2019

Not for the layman.

I thought the lecturer breezed over deep concepts which made the whole thing hard to understand. I would not recommend this to anyone that does not have a good grasp of particle physics.

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  • D B.
  • 02-09-2018

Cutting edge knowledge brought to the non-physicist

I have rarely encountered such mastery of the teaching profession as displayed by this gentleman in his explanation of cutting edge quantum physics and cosmology. As a non-physicist I have learnt more from this course than I have listening to books supplied by Audible on this subject over the last five years.

Admittedly towards the end of the course some of the concepts are difficult to grasp, but if played two or three times as I did, you come to realise that it’s not that far out of your reach


I would highly recommend this course to anyone who has a basic knowledge of quantum physics but is not a physicist per se. The use of basic analogies to bring even the most difficult of concepts down to the level of understanding of the layman, is a common theme throughout this course, and the way it is done is that supreme skill of this gentleman.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this course and will be looking for more on this subject matter.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-04-2018

A complex subject matter made accessible.

A most interesting read. Very well explained. Intend to look up other works by the same author.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Me
  • 16-03-2018

Superbly Informative

What would otherwise be mind-boggling ideas, were explained in such a way that made them easy for anyone to understand, and would thoroughly quench anyone's thirst for knowledge.
Another great audio book from The Great Courses.

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  • M. A. B. Chaudry
  • 14-09-2017

a level above popular science

this is a fantastic course but it shouldn't be your first course in particle physics. I highly recommend the great courses particle physics course as a prerequisite to this course (I forgot the name but there is one major course). this course is a level above popular science and also the great courses physics series. if that is what you are after you won't be disappointed. it's fascinating to understand a little more about the theory and also more of the logistics of these particle physics breakthroughs.

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  • Ben
  • 14-03-2017

Intense

If you could sum up The Higgs Boson and Beyond in three words, what would they be?

Intense, insightful and complex

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Neither. Its about the Higgs Boson….and beyond

Any additional comments?

Listened to an audible book by Sean Caroll before and the quality and content of the book was equally as good.