Experimental Studies of Neutrino Oscillations
By Takaaki Kajita
World Scientific

This book on neutrino oscillations is mainly of historic interest. It consists of seven chapters that reproduce review articles written by the 2015 Nobel laureate in physics, Takaaki Kajita, which were previously published between 2000 and 2009, either in journals or in international conference proceedings (all World Scientific publications). The articles describe experiments on solar and atmospheric neutrino interactions performed using the Kamiokande and SuperKamiokande water Cherenkov detectors installed in the Kamioka mine in Japan. These experiments resulted in the 1998 discovery of atmospheric muon-neutrino (νμ) oscillation by observing νμ disappearance over a flight-path length of the order of the Earth’s radius. In addition, they have provided important hints on the oscillation of solar neutrinos, which was conclusively demonstrated in 2002 by the SNO experiment in Canada (the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics was also awarded to A B McDonald for his leading role in this experiment).

Chapter 1 includes a short description of results from experiments using neutrinos from accelerators. These include the K2K experiment in Japan and MINOS at Fermilab, which confirmed the atmospheric neutrino oscillation, and the KamLAND experiment (also located in the Kamioka mine), which has observed the disappearance of electron antineutrinos (νe) from nuclear reactors over an average baseline of 180 km, therefore verifying solar-neutrino oscillation with “man-made” neutrinos. Although not up to date, the values of the oscillation parameters Δm212, Δm223, θ12 and θ23 quoted in this book are quite precise and close to the current ones.

Future directions and plans in the study of neutrino oscillations are also described. In particular, methods and plans to measure the mixing angle θ13 (not yet measured in 2009) using neutrinos from both reactors and accelerators are discussed, as well as the impact of the θ13 value on the possible detection of CP violation in the neutrino sector. Although the book was published in 2016, on this subject it is obsolete because θ13 has been measured in the first half of the current decade by a number of experiments and is presently known to better than 10%.

Finally, chapter 2, written with four co-authors, addresses the physics capabilities of possible future experiments using a water Cherenkov detector with a mass of 1 Mton.

• Luigi Di Lella, University of Pisa & INFN, Italy.

Neutrino Oscillations: A Practical Guide to Basics and Applications
By Fumihiko Suekane
Also available at the CERN bookshop

This is a detailed and up-to-date textbook on neutrino oscillations. After a short historical introduction (chapter 1), chapter 2 contains a concise, yet quite complete, presentation of neutrino theory in the Standard Model, including neutrino interactions and production in pion, muon and nuclear beta decay. The basic ideas of particle oscillation in quantum mechanics are introduced in chapter 3, and a detailed theory of neutrino oscillations is presented in chapter 4 – first in a two-neutrino approximation, then generalised to the three neutrino flavours – for oscillations both in vacuum and matter. In addition to the usual neutrino description in terms of plane waves, this chapter includes the mathematical treatment of a wave-packet oscillation, which helps in understanding neutrino oscillations over astronomical distances.

Chapter 5 contains a description of past and present oscillation experiments and of the results published prior to 2014, including the measurement of θ13. These results are again summarised in chapter 6, where the current knowledge of three-neutrino oscillation parameters is described. Future experiments to measure the remaining oscillation parameters (the so-called neutrino mass hierarchy and the CP-violation phase) are discussed in chapter 7, together with oscillation anomalies observed by a number of experiments (LSND, MiniBoone, Gallium and recent re-analyses of old reactor experiments). These anomalies, if confirmed, would imply the existence of at least one additional “sterile” neutrino with a mass in the order of 1 eV, requiring a mixing matrix of larger dimensions and more oscillation parameters. Chapter 7 also includes a discussion of the difference between Dirac and Majorana neutrinos, and the implications of direct measurements of the effective νe mass and of searches for neutrinoless double beta decay. Finally, chapter 8 contains a useful appendix summarising all the symbols, abbreviations and formulae used in the book.

The textbook contains all of the information that anybody interested in neutrino oscillations would like to know. Physicists involved in neutrino experiments should each have a copy in their private libraries.

• Luigi Di Lella, University of Pisa & INFN, Italy.

PWA90: A Lifetime Of Emergence
By P Chandra, P Coleman, G Kotliar, P Ong, D L Stein and C Yu (eds)
World Scientific

In December 2013, a community of physicists gathered in Princeton on the occasion of Philip Warren Anderson’s 90th birthday to celebrate the achievements of his remarkable career. This book is the result of the event, and collects a number of intriguing and lively contributions from Anderson’s students, collaborators and distinguished colleagues, which will appeal to both high-energy and condensed-matter physicists.

The description of a single helium atom is familiar to any undergraduate student, but a collection of many helium atoms produces unexpected phenomena ranging from superfluidity to magnetic phases. This occurrence could be concisely summarised by saying that “more is different”, as Anderson (who shared the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics with N Mott and J Van Vleck for their fundamental theoretical investigations of the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems) wrote in the title of a pedagogical article published in 1972. As Anderson would put it, “the ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from these laws and reconstruct the whole universe.” The so-called “emergentism” appears then as a possible synthesis between the thesis of the reductionism (often attributed to particle physics) and the antithesis of pure constructivism. This third perspective can be appreciated in this book.

Relatively short, it contains accurate and stimulating accounts of various hot topics that are popular in condensed-matter theory, starting from the ubiquitous mechanism of the localisation of waves in random media (often referred to as “Anderson localisation”). The connections between superfluidity, superconductivity and the way that massless gauge bosons acquire a mass are explored in the contribution of Frank Wilczek (who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics with David Gross and David Politzer, for the discovery of asymptotic freedom).

The historical origins of Anderson’s paper describing the relation between plasmons, gauge invariance and mass are masterly reviewed by Ed Witten (professor of mathematical physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, US).

In a nutshell, Anderson’s idea was that the scalar zero-mass excitations of a superconducting neutral Fermi gas become longitudinal plasmon modes of finite mass when the gas is charged. Higgs described his mechanism as the relativistic analogue of Anderson’s idea, whose origin is instead conceptually motivated by a series of contributions by J Schwinger, speculating that gauge fields can become massive thanks to strong coupling effects in two space–time dimensions. This field theory in two dimensions is often used to introduce the concept of “bosonisation”.

The contributions contained in PWA90 can be considered as an extended introduction to a more technical treatise (very popular among practitioners in the late 1980s and early 1990s) entitled Basic Notions of Condensed Matter Physics (Benjamin-Cummings 1984) and edited by P W Anderson together with C C Yu. In that book, Anderson managed to stress the connection between symmetry breaking, emergent phenomena and condensed-matter theory. While more than 30 years separate the two books, their common goals and inspirations remain intact: different areas of physics can and must be cross-fertilised because, ultimately, physics is one.

• Massimo Giovannini, CERN & INFN Milan-Bicocca, Italy.

Books received

A Lesson for the Future of Our Science: My Testimony on Lord Patrick M S Blackett
By A Zichichi
World Scientific


The book is a tribute to the great experimental physicist Lord Patrick M S Blackett, written by one of his pupils at the Sphynx Observatory, Antonio Zichichi. Blackett is well known for his work on cloud chambers and cosmic rays, which earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1948.

The author offers his personal testimony, from the first time he heard Blackett’s name to when he went to work with him, and then about the research he could be involved in. He provides a profile of his subject while giving an overview of Blackett’s work and, in particular, of his most significant discoveries, including the so-called vacuum-polarisation effect, the first example of “virtual physics”, and strange particles. The important implications of Blackett’s pioneering contribution to sub-nuclear physics are also discussed.

The book also presents a portrait of the world of physics during those times, and gives insights into life and research at CERN, as well as about Blackett’s ideas. He was very interested in the role of science in the culture of the time. He was convinced that physicists should be directly engaged with communicating to society, which should be informed about the contribution of science to the progress of our civilisation.

Rich in personal anecdotes, pictures and appendices, the book could appeal to physicists and students who are also interested in the history of science and in the human dimension of great scientists. As a final point, the layout and editing could be improved.

Macroscopic Electrodynamics: An Introductory Graduate Treatment
By W Wilcox and Chris Thron
World Scientific

Wilcox, Thron

This book provides a comprehensive treatment of classical electrodynamics for graduate students of physics and engineering. The word “macroscopic” in the title refers both to the large-scale manifestations of the theory and to the applications of the so-called macroscopic Maxwell equations to idealised media, which are discussed in the book.

The topics are carefully explained, using precise but informal language that would appeal to younger students. On the mathematics side, a background in advanced calculus, linear algebra and variational methods is needed by the reader, as is a basic understanding of electrodynamics on the physics side. A large set of exercises is integrated into the text. They are designed to help students to get to grips with concepts and practical methods, but also to stimulate their intuition, rather than their ability in calculus.

After an introduction on the basic concepts of electrostatic and magnetostatic fields and interactions, the authors move on to extending such concepts to time-dependent phenomena. A whole section is then dedicated to the properties, interactions and applications of electromagnetic waves. Finally, a chapter covers relativity and electromagnetic formalism. Hints of many other topics are given in conclusion, both to stimulate the curiosity of student readers and guide them towards further studies.

Besides an appendix on units, a guide to problems is also included, in which the solutions to the exercises that are not integrated in the text are provided.

An Introduction to Graphene Plasmonics
By P A D Gonçalves and N M R Peres
World Scientific

Goncalves, Peres

Graphene plasmonics is a fast-developing area of research, for which no textbook yet exists. Previous books on plasmonics have focused on the use of conventional metals, while scientific articles on graphene plasmonics present the subject in a fragmented and not very pedagogical way. This book aims to fill this gap in the scientific literature.

A plasmon is a quantum of plasma oscillation – the minimum amount of oscillations of the electron density in conductive media. The world “plasmonics” is used to refer to the transfer of information through nanoscale structures by means of surface plasmons, which are plasmons – confined to the surface – that can be excited by photons and electrons.

In 2011 it was demonstrated that plasmonic effects in graphene (which is a two-dimensional material, therefore all surface) could be controlled optically by shining electromagnetic radiation onto a periodic grid of graphene micro-ribbons. This was the start of a new and intriguing branch of research at the interface between condensed-matter physics and photonics.

The authors have aimed to make their book as self-contained as possible, so they discuss all of the relevant aspects of the topic. Starting from graphene’s electronic properties, and plasmonics at metal–dielectric interfaces and in metal thin films, the book gradually dives into the field of graphene plasmonics. Several chapters are dedicated to different methods of inducing surface plasmon polaritons in this material, and there are appendices that give calculations and in-depth analysis on some of the topics covered.

The book is intended both for students of and newcomers to the field, but it could also be a reference for researchers already working on graphene plasmonics.

Trapped Charged Particles: A Graduate Textbook with Problems and Solutions
By M Knoop, N Madsen, and R C Thompson
World Scientific

Knoop, Madsen, Thompson

Electromagnetic trapping, which is the confinement of charged particles by the use of combined electric and magnetic fields, has emerged as a very versatile tool for manipulating charged particles. It is extremely useful for performing precise measurements, for mass spectroscopy, plasma physics, and antihydrogen creation, as well as for applications including atomic clocks and trapped-ion quantum computers.

The textbook collects lectures on charged-particle trapping given by the major experts in the field at the Les Houches Winter School in January 2015. It discusses both the fundamental physics of this technique and its different applications. The first lectures are dedicated to explaining how to trap charged particles and the basic properties of Penning and radio-frequency (RF) traps. Following chapters are dedicated to practical problems related to trapping – vacuum systems and cooling techniques (including laser cooling), in particular, are discussed. Simulations, plasma physics, antihydrogen physics and other applications are then explained.

Being the result of lectures given to young physicists, the book is targeted towards advanced undergraduate and graduate students who are new to the topic. All of the chapters are accompanied by worked problems to help students to check their understanding of the subjects.

60 Years of Yang–Mills Gauge Field Theories: C N Yang’s Contributions to Physics
By L Brink and K K Phua (eds)
World Scientific

Brink, Phua

Since their first formulation, and following development that took place between the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1970s, Yang–Mills gauge field theories have proven to be the cornerstone of theoretical physics. Up to now, they represent the only relativistic quantum many-body corpus of theories in four space–time dimensions that appear to be fully consistent. The Yang–Mills theories for the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces are the framework of the Standard Model of particle physics, which has been proven to be the correct theory at the energies that we can measure.

In May 2015, the International Conference on 60 years of Yang–Mills Gauge Theories  was held at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Singapore, in order to commemorate this anniversary. Renowned physicists from all over the world participated and gave interesting talks on different aspects of the theories, as well as on their role outside particle physics, in particular in condensed-matter and statistical physics.

Chen Ning Yang, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1957 together with Tsung-Dao Lee for another work, the discovery of parity violations, gave a talk at the conference. The same was not possible for Robert Mills, co-father of these theories, because he passed away in 1999. The emphasis of the conference was given to Yang’s contributions to physics in general.

This book collects together the talks given at the conference by Yang and the invited speakers, reviewing these remarkable contributions and their importance for the future of physics. Authors include D Gross, L Brink, M Fisher, L Faddeev, S L Wu, T T Wu, T Zee and many others.