Published: April 2022
The astonishing story of twentieth-century physics, told through the twelve experiments that changed our world
'A splendid idea, vividly carried out: I enjoyed this book enormously'
'The perfect bedside book for anyone who wants to ponder the remarkable achievements of physics'
'Fascinating and highly readable . . . An all-action thriller, laced with some of the most profound ideas humans have ever had'
'A magical tour of the great experiments defining the most incredible century in physics'
How did a piece a gold foil completely change our understanding of atoms?
What part did a hot air balloon play in the discovery of cosmic rays?
How did the experiments in the run-up to the Large Hadron Collider lead to the invention of the World Wide Web?
Asking questions has always been at the heart of physics, our unending quest to understand the Universe and how everything in it behaves. How do we know all that we know about the world today? It's not simply because we have the maths - it's because we have done the experiments.
In The Matter of Everything, accelerator physicist Suzie Sheehy introduces us to the people who, through a combination of genius, persistence and luck, staged the ground-breaking experiments of the twentieth century that changed the course of history. From the serendipitous discovery of X-rays in a German laboratory, to the scientists trying to prove Einstein wrong (and inadvertently proving him right), to the race to split open the atom, Sheehy shows how our most brilliant, practical physicists have shaped innumerable aspects of how we live today. Radio, TV, the chips in our smartphones, MRI scanners, radar equipment and microwaves, to name a few: these were all made possible by their determination to understand, and control, the microscopic.
Pulling physics down from the theoretical and putting it in the hands of the people, The Matter of Everything is a fascinating expedition through the surprising, and occasionally accidental, experiments that transformed our world, and a celebration of the creative and curious people behind them.
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