Handbook of Accelerator Physics and Engineering

29 November 1999

edited by Alexander Chao and Maury Tigner, World Scientific ISBN 981 02 3500 3 (hbk £58, pbk £32).


World Scientific approached Alex Chao some four years ago and asked if he would be willing to do a book for them. Chao had the idea for some sort of handbook and got in touch with me to ask if I would be interested in joining him. In the course of making that decision we explored many ideas. One approach was that we should write it ourselves. The other route involved trying to convince the real experts in the community to share their wisdom.

It soon became clear that the only economically feasible way of carrying this out was as a community project and a labour of love. No book royalties could possibly repay the kind of effort that would be required of more than 200 authors.

A key feature is that the money goes to the two accelerator schools (at CERN and in the US) for fellowships for students from institutions that are unable to support them. I’m sure this made the difference to many of the authors who toiled after hours and on weekends to meet our strict deadlines.

Having decided to go that way, we compiled a “straw man” table of contents and sent it around to many of those that we hoped would contribute, together with suggestions on which topic(s) we hoped they would write on. To our great joy and surprise, most agreed and we were off.

We tried to be very precise about the level, style and length of articles and, by and large, the authors entered into the spirit of the thing. Even with the best of wills, however, it was impossible for everyone to keep to their space allotment and we had an enormous amount of work to help the authors cut back.

Space was felt to be very important as we insisted that the book should be portable in emulation of previous outstanding examples. Other considerations included uniform notation and style (at which we were only partly successful). The final text is about half the total of the original submissions.

Naturally, now that the work of four years and thousands of person-hours has borne its fruit, we have had many suggestions for improvement. Some of these suggestions and corrections have already appeared on a special Web page.

Maybe someday there will be another edition in which all of these contributed ideas and corrections can be incorporated. At any rate, we profoundly hope that the book will prove useful and stand as an example of the underlying unity of our community and what can be done when there is a will.

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