Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos

Course No. 1247
Professor Steven Pollock, Ph.D.
University of Colorado, Boulder
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Course No. 1247
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Course Overview

This two-part series explains, in easily accessible terms, the discovery of the infinitely small particles-the quarks and neutrinos, muons and bosons-that make up everything in nature, from microbes to stars.

It covers the nature and functions of the individual particles, and their roles in the Standard Model of particle physics (a theory that is as much a masterpiece in science as Shakespeare's works are in literature). The lectures also trace the history of particle physics as a science, and the dedicated scientists and complex technology that have made this branch of physics so profoundly productive and important.

This course provides a framework to understand such cutting-edge physics research as gravity waves, dark matter, and string theory.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Nature of Physics
    What is the world made of, how do the constituents fit, and what are the fundamental rules they obey? We discuss the history of human understanding of atoms and subatoms, and articulate some primary ideas in particle physics, focusing on what we know well. x
  • 2
    Standard Model of Particle Physics
    Where do we stand in our understanding of the smallest building blocks of the world? The Standard Model of particle physics is one of the greatest quantitative success stories in science. What are the players, what are the forces, and what are some of the concepts and buzzwords? x
  • 3
    Pre-History of Particle Physics
    We summarize the scientific evolution of atomism: prescientific ideas, the classical worldview of Isaac Newton, and finally the modern ideas of fundamental constituents. How could a famous physicist say physics was "done" in 1899? x
  • 4
    Birth of Modern Physics
    We explore the transition from 19th-century classical physics to 20th-century modern physics. This is the story of Planck, Rutherford, Einstein, and the early quantum physicists. We gain our primitive first understandings of the realistic structure of atoms. x
  • 5
    Quantum Mechanics Gets Serious
    A qualitative introduction to the work of Schrödinger, Heisenberg, and Dirac in describing electrons, this lecture looks at how the first fundamental particle was discovered. We introduce such concepts as spin and quantum electrodynamics (QED), and conclude with the experimental discovery of antimatter and the neutron. x
  • 6
    New Particles & New Technologies
    This lecture conducts a survey of particle physics in the first half of the 20th century: cosmic rays, the discovery of the muon (Who ordered that?), Yukawa's theory of nuclear force, and the discovery of the pion. We conclude by discussing the electron volt (ev) as a tool to make sense of the particle discoveries to come. x
  • 7
    Weak Interactions & the Neutrino
    What is a weak interaction, and how is it connected to radioactivity? What is an interaction, anyway, and how does it differ from a force? We discuss the carriers of weak forces, W and Z particles, and introduce neutrinos—ghostlike particles with no mass. x
  • 8
    Accelerators & Particle Explosion
    Particle accelerators, born after World War II, were in some respects the origin of big science in the United States. We discuss how these machines worked and the steady stream of new particles discovered through their use. x
  • 9
    Particle "Zoo"
    Some new particles exhibited a curious mix of strong and weak properties. The proper description of these "strange particles" was crucial in understanding the particle "zoo." This lecture introduces lots of new lingo—mesons and baryons, hadrons and leptons, bosons and fermions. x
  • 10
    Fields & Forces
    This lecture covers the concept of a field and the early problems involved in constructing the modern theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED). We examine the 1947 Shelter Island conference, the problem of infinities, the concept of renormalization, and Feynman diagrams. x
  • 11
    "Three Quarks for Muster Mark"
    Hadrons (strongly interacting particles) are fundamental but not elementary. Could they be made of something else? This is the breakthrough idea of quarks. This lecture explores early quark conditions. x
  • 12
    From Quarks to QCD
    If quarks are the fundamental particles, how do they interact? The answer: They carry a new charge, a strong charge described by color. We introduce these concepts as part of the fledgling theory of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) from the 1970s. x
  • 13
    Symmetry & Conservation Laws
    What does symmetry mean to a physicist? Pretty much what it means to you: an aesthetic property of a system, a pattern that appears the same when viewed from different perspectives. x
  • 14
    Broken Symmetry, Shattered Mirrors
    Symmetry is sometimes slightly broken or badly broken. Either way, there is something useful to be learned about the world. This lecture explores (a seemingly obvious) mirror symmetry, also called parity, and the stunning surprise that it is not perfect (parity violation). x
  • 15
    November Revolution of 1974
    In November of 1974, two simultaneous experimental discoveries rocked the world of particle physics. A new particle, a new quark, had been found. The charmed quark changed the scientific paradigm for physicists overnight. x
  • 16
    A New Generation
    The last great surprises: a new generation of particles. The tau lepton is discovered, and symmetry arguments tell scientists that the tau neutrino, and bottom and top quarks, have to be there ... and they are! x
  • 17
    Weak Forces & the Standard Model
    Progress in the 1960s and '70s was not limited to strong forces and quarks. This is the story of the theory of Weinberg, Salam, and Glashow—the electroweak theory—that unified the fundamental weak, electric, and magnetic forces. We can now summarize the Standard Model. x
  • 18
    Greatest Success Story in Physics
    The Standard Model of particle physics is an impressive accomplishment. Its unparalleled success includes qualitative and quantitative measurements, with years of increasingly precise tests. x
  • 19
    The Higgs Particle
    The Higgs particle is the least understood piece of our story so far, and the one central part not yet directly verified. What is this particle, and what role does it play in the Standard Model? x
  • 20
    Solar Neutrino Puzzle
    We have always assumed that neutrinos are massless, but what if they did have mass? Why are there far fewer neutrinos coming from the sun than there should be? What does it mean to talk about neutrinos changing flavor? x
  • 21
    Back to the Future (1)—Experiments to Come
    The SSC may be dead, but experimental particle physics is alive and vibrant! What are some of the burning issues? Among those we will discuss are the search for violations of matter-antimatter symmetry, and neutrino beams that will travel through the Earth from source to target. x
  • 22
    Back to the Future (2)—Puzzles & Progress
    The Standard Model is a great success. So why are many physicists looking for a more fundamental theory of nature? We'll begin with the missing link of gravity; issues of simplicity, unification, and grand unification; then two developments that to many physicists seem to be the best candidates for new physics: supersymmetry and string theory. x
  • 23
    Really Big Stuff—The Origin of the Universe
    What does cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole, have to do with particle physics? Matter at the very largest scales requires understanding of matter at the very tiniest. We'll discuss how particle physics fits in with the Big Bang, the more recent theory of inflation, and the newly discovered dark matter and dark energy. x
  • 24
    Looking Back & Looking Forward
    What have we learned after more than 100 years of intense study of fundamental particles? What puzzles remain? What you might take out of this course is a sense of physical order and understanding of the constituents of the larger world. x

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Steven Pollock

About Your Professor

Steven Pollock, Ph.D.
University of Colorado, Boulder
Dr. Steven Pollock is Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He earned his B.S. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his master's degree and Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University. Prior to taking his position at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Professor Pollock was a senior researcher at the National Institute for Nuclear and High Energy Physics. In 2013, Professor...
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Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 137.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Understanding terms like "atom," "neutron." As of now I've just finished lecture 8. Although I don't understand everything, I am learning. I'm learning especially some terms like "atom" "neutron" "proton" "dynamics." I'm hoping that I understand these terms better and learn more about them as the lectures go on.
Date published: 2020-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating and Relatable I won't lie, the concepts in this course are very difficult to understand but Stephen Pollock does a wonderful job of explaining complicated scientific theories and experiments in a way that is straightforward and surprisingly easy to understand. He also regularly reviews what you have learned and connects the current lecture to past lectures so that the ideas really stick. I had a very basic understanding of particle physics before this course but I feel like the concepts are clearer and make a lot more sense than before.
Date published: 2019-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent series Lectures are comprehensive and yet easy to understand for non-physicists
Date published: 2019-05-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Yes, I Now Have a Standard Model T-Shirt The course is a historical journey of the discovery of all the particles of the Standard Model, including coverage of the individuals and the work involved. Provides a descriptive explanation of the theoretical underpinnings of the Normalizable Relativistic Quantum Gauge Field Theory underlying the Standard Model including Quantum Electrodynamics and Chromodynamics. But none of the mathematics. So we now have an 50% understanding of 5% of all the stuff in the Universe. The rest we don't know about. Not bad for a species whose ancestors were living in trees three million years ago. The course was developed in 2003, so the Higgs Boson had not been discovered (2012), and the course predicted its discovery. I wish there were a few equations thrown in from time to time, I certainly developed a taste for it. What harm would there be showing Paul Dirac's Eigen Values for the antimatter solution (only has two 0's, two i's and 2 square brackets). Differential Equations were invented in 1671, nowadays they are a doddle. I don't know why everyone hides under the bed when they are mentioned. Since the course and the discovery of the Higgs, there have been a few developments such as WIMPs, weak interactions and dark matter. And how a Quantum Theory of Gravity would fit into the Standard Model. Would be useful if the course could be updated. Still, a very good course.
Date published: 2019-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This really is for non-physicists and well done. I have now watched this for the second time and heard and saw things I do not remember from the first time. Okay, no math background to speak of and a high school physics class long ago. That said, for me this was not only very educational but entrancing. I use courses such as this to help me get thru my workout on the recumbent bike. 30 or so minutes just zip by while watching this. And it is very neat to think about the Quark world and the various flavors. Quarks and leptons, who woulda thunk that is what we are made of. If the idea of learning about physics has intrigued you but you were afraid to try. Get this course. Love it.
Date published: 2019-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Course is very Informative up to 2003 I took this course to learn what I did not know about particle physics. It talks about the Higgs boson that was discovered in 2012 so the information is a little bit obsolete but it is a good place to start. The course was recorded in 2003. I wish there was some updates to this course to find out what they know now. I learned some of particle physics back in high school and college from 1972 until 1980 and I never heard about the information that is contained in this course back then. They did not have definite proof of quarks back then and the reason they did not talk about this in my days of high school and college. It seems to take about 30 to 40 years for the proof to emerge and for us to find out what they found out. I think that the quarks will be found out to be basic quasi-stable elements that were created by the acceleration of the protons and electrons in the particle accelerators that decay when they are collided. Basic mass gain by acceleration by using Einsteins equation E=mc2. The reason I think this is because the mass of the quarks all seem to be the masses of some of the elements.
Date published: 2018-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course I checked out this great course from the local library and studied it completely. I later purchased the copy for my own use. Dr. Pollock did an excellent job of breaking up and explaining the known subatomic structure of the atom. He discussed all of the individual particles properties, mass, spin etc. After I studied the course, I attended a subatomic particles lecture by the 2004 Nobel Laureate in Physics at a local university and it was an immense help in understanding the lecture.
Date published: 2018-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lucid and fun Prof. Pollock is a great teacher. He's the sort of person who could explain why the sky is blue to a toddler, accurately and without condescension. He uses the honorific "Mr." when referring to great men like Einstein and Fermi, as if he were an elementary school teacher. I found this pleasing, although I can understand why math and physics experts might find it cloying. My background is in law, and from that perspective (lawyers also have to explain complicated matters accurately and plainly) I think he pulls it off. I took this course after Prof. Sean Carroll's Higgs Boson course, and enjoyed it all the more for not coming to the subject cold. But if you have never taken a physics course you'll be fine with this one. Partly that's because Prof. Pollock tells his story in historical sequence, so you first encounter ideas when their creators themselves don't yet know where their work is leading. Now and again he goes deeper into topics like symmetry that require more explanation. I was never bored, and the course made me feel smart, not stupid, which in context is pretty amazing. By then end of the course I wondered why, if particle physics postulates symmetry of time and location (that is, that these factors don't matter), it should reconcile with gravity, which is all about the geometry of space and time? Is gravity even a force, or is it a consequence? I'm not sure those are sensible questions, but I wouldn't hesitate to ask Prof. Pollock, and I'm pretty sure his answer would meet me where I am.
Date published: 2018-06-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Physics for the intellectually impaired This course should have titled “particle physics for grade school dropouts”. I am terrible at physics, the only science course I ever got less than an “A” in. This course talks down to an intolerable degree. It becomes annoying in the extreme when the teacher refers to great scientists as MR. so and so rather than Dr. or professor or at least by their full name. The teacher ( I am calling him teacher rather than professor ) seems so concerned about not going over the head of his students that he refers to the main theories and labels of physics as “buzzwords”. This is bad enough but in trying to not use “technical” terms the teacher creates total confusion. I have taken “physics in your life”, “The higgs boson and beyond” “physics in history” and both of Dr. Tyson’s courses etc.. I have never been as confused as this course made me. Worst of all some of the statements made by the teacher are just plain wrong. For example he states that it takes a great deal of energy to find small non massive particles. Wrong. The smaller and lighter the particle is the easier it is to recreate in a particle accelerator. The massive weight of the Higgs Boson is the reason the LHC was needed to recreate it. My strong suggestion for those students who want an intro to particle physics try either one of Dr. Tyson’s courses, or physics in your life. These courses are not exclusively particle physics but at least they are well taught and not confusing.
Date published: 2018-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course for Non-Scientists Professor Pollock shares his obvious love of learning in a way that brings a complex subject within the grasp of anyone.
Date published: 2018-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Explanations I have watched this course twice now. I took notes the second time and I am going to watch it a third time. Steven Pollock is an excellent lecturer for the non physicist. I enjoyed his enthusiasm.
Date published: 2018-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Information I have been listening to this as soon as I received it. I have several of Prof. Polock's other courses, and like his style. His pace is just right, and he seems to have a real passion for the subject. My only complaint is that the multi-CD set arrived with the discs intact, but the interior mounts and CD holders were broken. So, the CDs slide around in the package. I was told that the case could not be replaced, and that I would have to return everything.
Date published: 2018-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Don't Miss It! I'm surprised I hadn't already written a review of this course. I've watched it through twice now; once on my own and a second time with a friend who was interested. This is presenting what some consider the greatest intellectual achievement of mankind to date: the evolution of the "standard model" of particle physics, to laymen who may not be able to work with mathematics beyond multiplication, division and the meaning of logarithms. Yes, he does show some equations at times for those who have the interest and ability to understand them--but if you find them confusing or distracting just don't worry about the equations. Dr. Pollock does an excellent job of describing the basic ideas behind the equations in plain English. This is a rare feat; it's pretty much a tour de force. The subject matter is rich, complex, multi-faceted. There are areas in which it still seems incomplete and there are competing ideas of where to go next. Dr. Pollock manages somehow to describe all of this and to make it fascinating. I've gone through several dozen Great Courses and I would say this is, in my opinion, probably one of the two best and most important ones I've ever listened to. For anyone who has enough interest to even be looking at the course description--get it and watch it! Preferably at least get the video and the course outline. If possible get the full transcript too, because there may be some occasions where you want to refer back to it in print and not have to search for the specific issue via the video. There are a few advances since this was produced: yes, CERN confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson, which was still presumed when Dr. Pollock gave his lectures; yes they've found a few other exotic particles but so far, nothing that really breaks the "standard model". Until the next really major advance, and who knows how far away that may be--this is still a wonderful and topical presentation of fundamental science.
Date published: 2018-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Looking forward to learning this. While I have not even started this course yet, I am so looking forward to the right time for me to do so. I know in advance this will be worthwhile as it is taught by a really excellent physics professor. (I am still in the process of learning Classical Physics as presented by Professor Pollock.) My interest in physics stems from when I was a child and I have never lost the desire to really learn it even though I am now in my 60's.
Date published: 2018-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Now I understand the vocabulary This course reveals how much physics "knowledge" has changed since I was in college in the 1970's. I quickly realized that unless I had additional tools for reference, "the words" of the Professor would just sound like static in my ears and I would be LOST. Therefore, to better understand the lectures and cement the information in my mind, I printed out a CURRENT format of the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Including the Higgs Boson which was only theorized at the time of this course. (That would be a recommendation for updating this course) The Higgs is sitting outside the regular Boson boundary with a Mass at about 125GeV , With Charge Zero and Spin Zero which sets it apart from ALL of the other elementary "particles". Sitting with a copy of THAT ONE sheet with the Hadrons, Leptons, Gauge Bosons and the Higgs (along with some Feynman Diagrams) I was able to follow the lectures, and quite often predict the direction in which Professor Pollock was to take us. Especially when the concepts of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics) and QCD (Quantum Chromodynamics) were introduced. I was startled to realize that so much of The Standard Model (when I was in college) lacked any firm discovery, much less the determination of mass, charge and spin of the particles. Physics was NOT my college major. ( I wish I were young enough to GO BACK and become immersed in the subject for a purpose other than my own enlightenment) To follow Professor Pollock, you need to listen to him, BUT ALSO follow along on the Standard Model to make any sense of "the unique vocabulary" much less the relationships and reactions at the sub-atomic world. This course along with my reference sheets and diagrams collectively became a Rosetta Stone for interpretation.
Date published: 2017-12-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Opens up new thought processes This is an excellent course for someone who has some basic physics knowledge but hasn't studied physics for 25+ years. The first lessons are great for anyone, but later in the course, the instructor moves further into more complex issues. Anyone, however, will gain new insights and perspectives whether or not they have taken a physics course. My only reservation is that-- had I known the course date-- I might have moved directly to the Higgs Boson and Beyond course. Particle Physics for Non-Physicists was produced when the Higgs particle was just a "maybe."
Date published: 2017-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changing This course is absolutely fascinating. I am going to have to give it another listen through. I cannot imagine the beauty of the closed form if the instruction is this wonderful. When Max Tegmark said we were all great theoreticians for any inference off the CMD, he was not kidding. This series adds even more from the micro to the macro. I am left with such a happy furrow on my brow pretending like I can contemplate how a point like electrons and positrons come out of the Dirac formalism, yet from the unity of string theory are not as such. From Weinberg to Glashow and the eletroweak, to the decoupling of the early universe of all potential combinations (if we are to take QED as dogma and not just the super exiting) this series leaves its audience captivated and contemplating. If the Z boson prediction is not clairvoyance, what is? Physics is complete, so long as we are willing to bring it to it. At the least, clarity rings true here.
Date published: 2017-10-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good review of Particle physics Review of Particle Physics by Steven Pollock # 1247 Over all good review of Particle physics – look at the chapter summaries to see the major topics. He is enthusiastic, & seems well versed on most topics. It is worth the time to watch, but you should have some background in the subject You should already know about quarks, leptons, field forces, etc. He speaks a little too fast, but speech is clear. The last chapter is good review & thots to consider in future study. The lectures were made in 2003, so now in 2017, it is a little behind. E.g. he mentions work is being done searching for the Higgs particle, - was found in 2016, etc. Needs more & better graphics. He has a strange habit of moving up & down, sort of “bouncing” – did get used to it later on. Left out some good stories, like the work by the Bell Labs men: Pensius & Wilson who detected the Cosmic Background radiation. How they tried to eliminate all possible reasons, even scraping the pigeon droppings in the big bell receiver. His views are strict reductionist, ignores possible other related topics like emergence, synchronous behavior, complexity, etc. Would help if he covered how scatter diagrams are captured & deciphered. Overall good course. 4 star.
Date published: 2017-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course I’ve always been interested in physics, but never had the math skills to study it deeply. Instead, I consume various popular level books on the subject. Professor Pollock’s presentation of this complex subject is on the level of the best I’ve seen or read. Even though I have some exposure to the subject through books, I still learned quite a bit. It’s a hard subject, and it is always useful to me to hear it explained from a different point of view. Professor Pollock’s presentation is clear, straightforward, with a minimum of math and frequent examples to help with the explanations. Like most of those presenting physics to non-physicists, he generally uses a historical approach, describing the progression of knowledge and discovery along with the scientists and their experiments along the way. Though I’ve heard some of it before, this course nevertheless felt fresh. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions on the development of the particle accelerators over time (I think you could make a great course just on the engineering behind a lot of these physics experiments - not just the results, but how people were able to design and build subtitle equipment to get the results). The only flaw in the course is that it is in need of an update. Professor Pollock discusses upgrades to the LHC at CERN and the hopes that it might find the Higgs particle. Of course, we now know that they were successful! Likewise, Pollock discusses the super-symmetry theories, which as I understand, haven’t really panned out based on the latest from CERN. The best courses make you sorry when they end, and force you to seek out other ways to continue the subject. This is such a course - I’ve already checked out a couple of recent physics books from the library in the hopes of learning even more.
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Charming Charming and engaging presenter with the added nuance of being non-dogmatic and understanding the importance highlighting the potential of being not entirely correct. The complete lack of equations I'm sure made it difficult to develop the course without utterly misleading the audience. For those of us that like some math, I suggest doing the course with some side books on the subject or regular Wikipedia lookups as a given item comes up. In particular his clear love of the story and honest sidebands of the egos and actors makes this enjoyable and engaging. I know a little too much on the subject at hand to probably judge clearly but I suspect this would be a great intro or gift to the curious mate or friend that is in fear of the sciences or math.
Date published: 2017-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a Great Course! My Bachelor's degree is in Maths and Physics from Cambridge University, UK. I studied quantum mechanics and learned about the discovery of a few key particles - but that was 50 years ago! I followed some of the particle physics developments in magazines like Scientific American, New Scientist, and Discovery. Recently, I decided to purchase this course to learn more about the subject (prompted by one of the Great Courses sales), to fill in the many gaps in my knowledge, and to be updated to the present (well, to 2003, which is near enough). I am very glad that I did so. The course gives a very clear view of the development of the field of particle physics, the discoveries, the key ideas, and some of the human aspects behind the research. Professor Pollock is a great lecturer. His style is engaging, clear, and informative. I would be happy to see other courses that he presents. Personally, I think it might have been good just to exhibit the Schrodinger and Dirac equations, to show their simplicity, and to explain their meaning in a few words. I'm sure that, done properly, even the mathophobes could appreciate them. I confess I am only 2/3 of the way through the course, but I am confident in my judgement that it is indeed Great.
Date published: 2017-04-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from OK but such slow nothingness at beginning The professor mosies on around saying nothing for so very long. Way too many lectures spent on nothingness. Particle physics presented is OK, but too historically organized, so therefore not so easy to comprehend. Even Prof Carroll of Higgs Boson course who is not the best at conceptual chunking (but superb otherwise) did a way better organization of the particles presentation. (Oversimplifying a bit, "conceptual chunking" means making a myriad of facts seem like just manifestations that are obviously entailed by one or two facts that you have to remember.) I recommend the Higgs, NOT JUST BECAUSE of the Higgs material itself though. I recommend the Higgs INSTEAD of this course because this course is ANNOYINGLY ponderous -- talking about nothing for so long. It's akin to what people do when they tell you about a great movie and then go on and on and on with "then he... then .... then" Now really? If you haven't seen the movie could the PLOT be interesting to you? Unlikely. What's REALLY happening is that the person is RE-watching the movie in their head (instead of on a screen or monitor) as they are allegedly speaking to you. It's rude. This analogy complete, the professor is thinking about all the wonderful things he's going to tell you in the lectures ahead. Savoring them in his mind. But they're all impending things -- ahead. I don't want to listen to him saying nothing because wonderful things will be in the later lectures. It does almost count as rude -- like the person re-living the movie in their head by telling you the whole plot. If you want a historical jumble -- which is how, in truth, science really happens, then maybe this course is good. Even so, however, the many earlier lectures are boring because they are so so dilute. Not that you need an analogy, but here it is. Make a proper iced tea, then put two teaspoons of that prepared tea in a 12 ounce glass and add water to fill the glass. I for one don't savor water when I'm expecting to taste tea. Too many of the early lectures are like that. So the Higgs is better because of PROPER concentration, and DEEP DEEP DEEP PROFOUND POINTS -- many of them. And all are accessible. Unless you want to become a historian or sociologist of science (but NOT philosopher) I don't see why you'd get this course rather than the Higgs.
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Tough Road and a Successful Journey I had previously weighed in on Professor Pollock's course on Classical Physics, believing it was a tad "dumbed down." I am happy to report that Professor Pollock gives just the right emphasis on this course, which tackles some of the truly tough ideas that ultimately bring together the Standard Model of Particle Physics. While it is now a bit dated, having not been able to assess the discovery of the Higgs boson, Professor Pollock has done an admirable job of sorting out and describing many of the principal actors in the Particle Zoo. He did not talk down to me, although I'm sure the temptation was there. Unlike some of the Great Courses, I found this one to have taken wonderful advantage of numerous video elements. I recognize that, while Einstein long doubted the efficacy of quantum mechanics, Professor Pollock may well be the teacher we all wish we had.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Insightful coverage of a tough subject These lectures omit the math that would defeat most laymen but they include a detailed history of how the discoveries progressed--and I mean detailed. I expected the maths to be glossed over but the depth of history was a wonderful surprise, making the sub-atomic relationships memorable. A brilliant treatment of what is possibly the most thorny of subjects.
Date published: 2016-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good course with excellent teacher. One of the very best teachers I've seen from the Learning Company. Not just a lecturer and, thank God, not one who merely reads his presentation. He's a TEACHER, speaking freely with great enthusiasm, wit and apt analogies. He presents the course in as simple a language as possible while still being complete and accurate. While I don't pretend to have understood many of the more esoteric subjects I have learned a great deal about a complex area. This is truly a course for everyone who has an interest. The main regret I have with these courses is not being able to ask the professors questions. And this professor would be at the top of my list of those I'd like to question. Couldn't TLC provide a website or some means to do just that. A question and answer forum would be great.
Date published: 2016-08-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice overview for both amateurs and scientists Professor Pollock does a great job providing an overview of the state of particle physics. He describes the important concepts and history accurately without overwhelming math. Things are always moving in this field, and there needs to be an update that the Higgs boson has been found!
Date published: 2016-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just Beginning I have just begun this course and I am nearly finished the first disc. The course presenter is very good - very clear in a field that can be totally obscure to someone like myself. He is meticulous in his structuring and clear but precise in his definitions. I am enjoying this course no end and look forward to the rest of it.
Date published: 2016-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Obscure Made Clear audio download version Although my background is physics and math, I was neither a mathematician nor a physicist. And as college was many long years ago, my knowledge has faded markedly and what remains is out date in many areas. So I picked up the TC course on particle physics for what I hoped would be an easy catch-up. Professor Pollack has developed and presented a course on what many would consider an arcane subject in an easily understandable manner. His ability to explain difficult concepts clearly is most impressive, although a couple of his analogies do stretch a bit too thin. While I can understand that some might prefer a bit more rigor in his analysis and some additional substance for his claims, for me he hit a perfect mark. Dr. Pollack takes us from the Greek's view of the makeup of matter through classical mechanics, relativity and quantum mechanics finally leading us to an understanding (if only on the surface) of up, down, strange and charm quarks, neutrinos, anti-matter and much more. Most impressive and enlightening. Even though some additional advances in particle physics have been made since the taping of this course, I really don't see the need for an immediate revision. I found it charming, that his discussion of the Higgs boson was highly optimistic that it would turn out to be more than just a mathematical construct, even while using scientific caution that in fact it might not exist. We listen to this discussion all the while knowing that just around the corner it will be discovered. An up-to-date revision would take that fun away. Further, along the way he delivers tidbits of the personalities and quirks of some of the physicists who made advances in particle physics. A nice touch to avoid keeping strictly academic material from being too dry. Although as advertised, no math is required in order to understand the concepts presented in this course, I think that a bit of high school physics and chemistry, even if taken many years ago will be helpful for anyone listening to this course. Highly recommended
Date published: 2016-04-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but dated This was an amazing course...until about lecture 20 when you realize this is from pre-2007. A 9 year old course on particle physics is already behind. Saying that, the instructor does a great job of introducing you to the standard model of particle physics.
Date published: 2016-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very rewarding experience-->what a joy. I felt drawn in as if I were watching a fascinating TV series. Each lesson built on the last like an excellent story line or plot. I found myself grieving during the last lecture, as though a very good friend was about to leave. Be well Dr. Steven Pollock. I hope to see you again.
Date published: 2016-01-06
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