21 September 2000

The Physics of Particle Detection by Dan Green, Cambridge
Monographs on Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics and Cosmology, 361 pp, 0
521 66226 5, £65/$100.

The 12th volume of the Cambridge
Monograph Series on Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics and Cosmology

again concerns particle detectors. In this case the main emphasis is not on the
construction of these devices but rather on the underlying

Dan Green has worked in particle detection and identification
in many laboratories – from Stony Brook to the ISR, and from Fermilab to
the preparation of LHC experiments.

The book begins with a
recollection of the size and energy scales involved in different physical
processes. The order of magnitude of atomic and nuclear processes is
explained by fundamental physics principles and illustrated using everyday
examples. The introductory chapter provides the basic numerical data needed
to characterize the interaction probabilities of different particle

The main body of the book is subdivided into non-destructive
measurements, such as time, velocity, ionization, position and momentum
measurements, where the interaction of the incident particle transfers very
little energy to the detecting medium; and destructive techniques, such as
electron and hadron calorimetry, where the lost energy is a significant
fraction of the kinetic energy carried by the particle. Characteristic features of
different detectors are partially derived using dimensional arguments. For
practical operations, rules of thumb are provided.

All of the methods
presented aim to identify the incident particles, a goal that can often only be
achieved by combining different techniques. Such a complete set of
measurements is presented in the final chapter, using the example of a
general-purpose detector.

The author successfully explains the
operation of each type of detector from first principles, without rigorously
deriving the theoretical background. Readers interested in the theory are
referred to the appendices.

The presented applications of particle
detectors are illustrated with many numerical examples, which clearly show
that Green has “hands-on” experience in constructing and optimizing these
devices. Some of the home experiments, however, like deflecting the electron
beam of a TV set with a permanent magnet, should be treated with caution.
This is fine on a black-and-white screen but can produce irreversible damage
on a colour TV.

Various interaction processes are visualized using
bubble and cloud chamber events, although these old-fashioned detectors are
not described in detail. There is no mention of nuclear emulsions, and very
little on neutrino interactions, even though the search for neutrino oscillations
and the first direct observation of the tau neutrino have demonstrated that
exotic and rare processes can breathe new life into old technologies. There is
certainly some demand for the basics of neutrino interactions from the
growing number of experiments in astroparticle physics.

Many of the
instructive diagrams are taken, with good reason, from the relevant chapters
of the excellent Review of Particle Physics by the Particle Data

This book presents an attractive and comprehensive
introduction to the physics of particle detection. The reader is guided by
practical examples from everyday experience. It will be of interest to physics
students and will also be a valuable reference for the experienced detector
builder. The design of actual particle detectors may be subject to change over
the coming years, but the underlying physics principles will stay the same.
The book will thus remain useful for some time. The publishers should also
be encouraged to issue an affordable paperback edition.
Grupen, Siegen.

Books received
Cosmic Strings
and Other Topological Defects
by Alexander Vilenkin and E Paul S
Shellard, Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics, 0 5216544769
(pbk), £75/$115.

Now in paperback, this comprehensive textbook
looks at a fruitful area of inflationary cosmological dynamics.

Knots and Feynman Diagrams by Dirk Kreimer,
Cambridge Lecture Notes in Physics, Cambridge University Press 0
521587611 (pbk), £20.95/$34.95.

This book should be useful for
theoretical physicists and for mathematicians.

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