© 2012

Particle Accelerators, Colliders, and the Story of High Energy Physics

Charming the Cosmic Snake


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 1-3
  3. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 5-9
  4. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 11-29
  5. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 31-40
  6. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 41-66
  7. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 67-79
  8. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 81-114
  9. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 115-130
  10. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 131-145
  11. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 171-184
  12. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 185-197
  13. Raghavan Jayakumar
    Pages 199-218
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 219-222

About this book


The Nordic mythological Cosmic Serpent, Ouroboros, is said to be coiled in the depths of the sea, surrounding the Earth with its tail in its mouth. In physics, this snake is a metaphor for the Universe, where the head, symbolizing the largest entity – the Cosmos – is one with the tail, symbolizing the smallest – the fundamental particle.

Particle accelerators, colliders and detectors are built by physicists and engineers to uncover the nature of the Universe while discovering its building blocks. “Charming the Cosmic Snake” takes the readers through the science behind these experimental machines: the physics principles that each stage of the development of particle accelerators helped to reveal, and the particles they helped to discover. The book culminates with a description of the Large Hadron Collider, one of the world’s largest and most complex machines operating in a 27-km circumference tunnel near Geneva. That collider may prove or disprove many of our basic theories about the nature of matter.

The book provides the material honestly without misrepresenting the science for the sake of excitement or glossing over difficult notions. The principles behind each type of accelerator is made accessible to the undergraduate student and even to a lay reader with cartoons, illustrations and metaphors. Simultaneously, the book also caters to different levels of reader’s background and provides additional materials for the more interested or diligent reader.


CERN God particle Higgs particle Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Particle Accelerators explained Particle Physics explained Standard Model of particle physics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.General AtomicsSan DiegoUSA

About the authors

Raghavan Jayakumar is an accelerator scientist who was involved in the Superconducting Supercollider project that was cancelled by the the US congress in 1993.

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

“Jayakumar, an experienced accelerator scientist, tells the story of scientists’ growing understanding of high-energy particles through the lens of the accelerators and colliders built to explore the diverse phenomena of high-energy physics. … The author writes lucidly, often revealing his passion for both the giant accelerators and the scientists’ mission to explore the world at the highest energies achievable. … Summing Up: Recommended. All general readers and undergraduate students.” (J. R. Burciaga, Choice, Vol. 49 (11), July, 2012)