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Book Reviews


Antimatter
Author: Frank Close

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 978-0-19-955016-6

Price: £9.99 (Hb), 166pp


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'The Physics of Angels and Demons' might have been an alternative title for this book, which certainly appears to have been inspired by Dan Brown's novel and its recent film adaptation. Its aim is to provide answers to some fascinating questions. Is the manufacture of an antimatter bomb a practical possibility? Has the US military really shown an interest? Could we one-day use antimatter to power a spacecraft? And could the 1908 Tunguska event have been caused by an antimatter comet?

Professor Close, a well-established figure in the academic world of high-energy physics, reminds us that antimatter is a far from modern discovery, having first been encountered some eighty years ago. Its history, and the colourful characters involved, is entertainingly described before moving forward to our current state of knowledge. At high-energy physics facilities like CERN in Geneva and Fermilab in the USA, the creation of positrons, antiprotons, and even anti-hydrogen atoms is now routine. Exactly how these are produced, and the tricky problem of their storage, is covered in some detail; here we learn about the design of storage rings, particle decelerators, and Penning traps. The final chapters suggest answers to the questions raised earlier, and also a much more profound one: why do we appear to live in a matter dominated Universe, when the laws of physics are so nearly symmetrical between matter and antimatter? We may just be beginning to glimpse an answer to this one!

The author is adept at treading that fine line between over-simplification and an excess of mathematics and physics. However, a basic numeracy is pretty much a prerequisite, while those who can tolerate a little more technical detail will appreciate the appendices. Overall verdict: up-to-date, topical, and a good read!

Dave Storey

2009 Yearbook
This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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