20 February 2013

• Flavor Physics at the Tevatron: Decay, Mixing and CP Violation Measurements in pp̅ Collisions • El ecologista nuclear; L’ambientalista nucleare; The Nuclear Environmentalist • A Student’s Guide to Einstein’s Major Papers • Foundations of Space and Time: Reflections on Quantum Gravity

Flavor Physics at the Tevatron: Decay, Mixing and CP Violation Measurements in pp Collisions
By Thomas Kuhr
Springer Hardback: £117 €137.10
Paperback: £109 €119.19

The Tevatron collider operated by Fermilab close to Chicago was – until the LHC at CERN took over – the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth, colliding protons and antiprotons with, finally, a centre-of-mass energy of almost 2 TeV. Among many interesting results, the key discovery was the observation of the top quark by the CDF and DØ collaborations in 1995. In pp– collisions, huge numbers of B and D mesons are also produced, offering sensitive probes for testing the quark-flavour sector of the Standard Model, which is described by the Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa (CKM) matrix. A closely related topic concerns violation of the charge-parity (CP) symmetry, which can be accommodated through a complex phase in the CKM matrix. Physics beyond the Standard Model may leave footprints in the corresponding observables.

In this branch of particle physics, the key aspect addressed at the upgraded Tevatron (Run-II) was the physics potential of the B0s mesons, which consist of an anti-bottom quark and a strange quark. Since these mesons and their antiparticles were not produced in the e+e B factories that operated at the Υ(4S) resonance, they fall in the domain of B-physics experiments at hadron colliders, although the Belle experiment could get some access to these particles with the KEK B-factory running at the Υ(5S) resonance. Since the Tevatron stopped operation in autumn 2011, the experimental exploration of the B0s system has been fully conducted at the LHC, with its B-decay experiment LHCb.

The CDF and DØ collaborations did pioneering work in B physics, which culminated in the observation of B0s – B–0s mixing in 2006, first analyses of CP-violating observables provided by the decay B0s → Jψφ around 2008, and intriguing measurements of the dimuon charge asymmetry by DØ in 2010, which probes CP violation in B0s –  B0s oscillations.

The author of this book has been a member of the CDF collaboration for many years and gives the reader a guided tour through the flavour-physics landscape at the Tevatron. It starts with historical remarks and then focuses on the quark-flavour sector of the Standard Model with the CKM matrix and the theoretical description of mixing and CP violation, before discussing the Tevatron collider, its detectors and experimental techniques. After these introductory chapters, the author brings the reader in touch with key results, starting with measurements of lifetimes and branching ratios of weak b-hadron decays and their theoretical treatment, followed by a discussion of flavour oscillations, where B0s – B0s mixing is the highlight. An important part of the book deals with various manifestations of CP violation and the corresponding probes offered by the B0s system, where B0s → Jψφ and the dimuon charge-asymmetry are the main actors. Last, rare decays are discussed, putting the spotlight on the B0s → μ+μ– channel, one of the rarest decay processes that nature has to offer. While the book has a strong focus on the B0s system, it also addresses Λb decays and charm physics.

This well written book with its 161 pages is enjoyable to read and offers a fairly compact way to get an overview of the B-physics programme conducted at the Tevatron in the past decade. A reader familiar with basic concepts of particle physics should be able to deal easily with the content. It appears suited to experimental PhD students making first contact with this topic, but experienced researchers from other branches of high-energy physics may also find the book interesting and useful. Topics such as the rare decay B0s → μ+μ, which has recently appeared as a first 3.5σ signal in the data from LHCb, and measurements of CP violation in B0s decays will continue to be hot topics in the LHC physics programme during this decade, complementing the direct searches for new particles at the ATLAS and CMS detectors.

Robert Fleischer, Nikhef and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

El ecologista nuclear
By Juan José Gómez CadenasEspasa Calpe
Paperback: €22.95

Also published as:
L’ambientalista nucleare
Paperback: €25

E-book: €22.99
The Nuclear Environmentalist
Paperback: £24.99 €29.07
E-book: £25.99 €26.99

Juan José Gómez Cadenas is the director of the Neutrino Physics Group at Valencia University but is best known by the general public as a novelist – in 2008 he wrote Materia Extraña, a scientific thriller (The incurable attraction of physics) – and as an expert in science popularization. Even in a purely scientific environment he is able to deliver information in a most enjoyable way, as I found when I attended a scientific talk that he gave at CERN.

This same ease in communicating is recognizable in El ecologista nuclear, his book about the topic of renewable and green energy and the role of the nuclear energy. I read the Italian edition of the book and although I noticed that the translation was not always perfect and, especially in some cases, that it did not improve the quality of the reading, I really enjoyed the book and its factual approach to this delicate and controversial topic.

Gómez Cadenas makes his point of view clear in the first chapter: “All that glitters is not green.” This could shock the uninitiated because it immediately leads the reader to face “the problem”: climate change is a “bomb (that) has been activated” and humankind is “playing with fire”. The author does not just present this scenario as an opinion. Rather, he justifies all of his statements with graphs, scientific data and evidence.

The chapters that follow are a journey through the various solutions to the problem, in which he makes a strong case for the use of nuclear energy. Using data and graphs, he successfully proves that “safe” nuclear power is the only viable solution. I emphasize the word “safe” because this is the delicate point that matters most to the general public. Unlike other authors, instead of avoiding talking about the problem of safety, Gómez Cadenas discusses it openly, with constant reference to scientific data.

I like the book; I like the author’s open and honest approach, his competence and his rigorous summaries of a global problem that concern us all. I would recommend reading it before voting for any topic related to the energy problem on our planet.

Antonella Del Rosso, CERN.

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