Life and (Smashing) Physics

Smashing Physics

I have written a book, called Smashing Physics, and you can order it now! It is out on 22 May 2014.


If you want your copy signed, or to hear me talk about it, here are some opportunities:

22 May (evening) Waterstones TBC date likely to change

24 May 12:30-13:30 Owl Bookshop

27 May 7pm Launch event at the Royal Institution!

28 May 2pm How the light gets in

28 May 4pm Hay Festival

29 May 7pm Bristol Festival of Ideas

4 June evening Oxford Skeptics in the Pub

9 June Evening  Salon London

11 June Bournemouth Skeptics in the Pub

15 June TBC York Festival of Ideas

27 & 28 June Liverpool Science Festival TBC

2 August Kew Palace (this a talk about Herschel and Georgian Science, not the Higgs. But I will probably bring some books to sign.)

The official blurb

The discovery of the Higgs boson made headlines around the world. Two scientists, Peter Higgs and François Englert, whose theories predicted its existence, shared a Nobel Prize. The discovery was the culmination of the largest experiment ever run,
the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. But what really is a Higgs boson and what does it do? How was it found? How has its discovery changed our understanding of the fundamental laws of nature? And what did it feel like to be part of it?


Jon Butterworth is one of the leading physicists at CERN and this book is the first popular inside account of the hunt for the Higgs. It is a story of incredible scientific collaboration, inspiring technological innovation and ground-breaking science. It is also the story of what happens when the world’s most expensive experiment blows up, of neutrinos that may or may not travel faster than light, and the reality of life in
an underground bunker in Switzerland.

Smashing Physics will leave you with a working knowledge of the new physics and what the discovery of the Higgs particle means for how we define the laws of nature. It will take you to the cutting edge of modern scientific thinking.

“This is a unique book, which captures the highs and lows of the last 20 years of particle physics, culminating with the discovery of the Higgs Boson. I’ve known Jon for most of my career – he’s an insightful, creative, diplomatic and occasionally outspoken physicist, and every facet of his character is on display in this beautifully written book. If you want to know what being a professional scientist is really like, read it!” - Brian Cox

“This is more than just another telling of the story of the hunt for the Higgs at the LHC – the reader here is utterly immersed in the politics, excitement and sheer intellectual adventure of discovery… from someone who was actually there! The process of scientific research is laid bare in all its glory, warts and all, and emerges as a delightful example of what is best about human intellectual endeavour.” - Jim Al-Khalili

Life and Physics Blog

As of 31/8/2010 this blog mainly moved to a new home at The Guardian. These pages will stay here too though and I occasionally add things which don’t really belong on the Guardian for whatever reason.

After participating in a panel discussion about science blogging I wrote this about why I blog.

Versions of two of the posts in this blog have appeared in the New Scientist‘s S-Word, one of which received a response from the Science Minister. Several more appeared in the Guardian‘s science blog even before I moved the main blog over there.


I’m a physics professor at UCL, where I am Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. I do my research in the High Energy Physics group on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Contact details, links and more research & professional information on my homepage at UCL. Also, I am on twitter, and here are some thoughts on why.


The content of these pages is my own, and unless explicitly stated otherwise it doesn’t represent the official views of UCL, ATLAS, Science Board, STFC, the Royal Society, the Butterworth family, English people with brown hair or any other group I am employed by or associated with. In fact, damn it, sometimes they aren’t even my own official views.


One Response to Life and (Smashing) Physics

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