You might flee from words like “quarks”, “relativity” and “joule”, but you shouldn’t have to, and neither should a kid. A new children’s book from the folks at a few of America’s national labs will hopefully make the things particle physicists are talking about easier to digest.
Image: Symmetry magazine
The book, titled The ABCs of Particle Physics by Lauren Biron and Chris Smith, takes a child (or maybe just an interested adult) along an adorably dorky rhyme-trip through some of the most important high-energy physics concepts. It’s available as an animated or non-animated webpage, pdf or as a board book you can buy as a gift for every six-year-old you know. As you’re reading your kids their bedtime stories, you may finally start to understand what scientists are talking about when they mention inflation or the Higgs boson.
Seriously who doesn’t want to sit down with their child or fully-grown adult friend and read lines like:
K is for kaons, with quarks that are strange.
L is for leptons, which have a wide range.
The online pages come along with further explanation beneath each letter, like:
Many subatomic particles are made of building blocks called quarks, which come in six different types. Kaons are particles that contain a quark called a strange quark. Kaons are important because scientists used them to find clues as to why our universe is made of more matter than antimatter. They discovered that kaons and their antimatter partners decay in different ways, contributing to the imbalance.
Despite its name, The ABCs of Particle Physics is a survey of more than just particles — it has pages about black holes, galaxies, inflation and even you — yes, you! It isn’t comprehensive — a child at least needs to know what atoms are going in. Plus, the book is missing some of the very best particles like the J/ψ meson, and does not mention that the already suggestively-named bottom-flavoured quarks carry a property called “bottomness”.
But hey, the sweet drawings should at least help the dense concepts go down more easily.
Image: symmetry magazine
The ABCs of Particle Physics was published by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, who jointly run symmetry magazine, and the hardcover version only costs $US10.99 ($14.50). Really, this book is for everyone.
“Our end goal is wanting to share particle physics with as many people as possible,” Biron told Gizmodo, “From the very young to the very old.”