Thursday, August 15, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Copies available at UW-Madison
From our August 2004 new book list!

Staley, K. W. (2004). The evidence for the top quark: objectivity and bias in collaborative experimentation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  

This book by a philosopher about physics is a study of the way "big science" is done in large collaborations at high energy physics laboratories. These groups provide a good opportunity for philosophers to examine the scientific evidence and scientific reasoning used. Staley (philosophy, Saint Louis Univ.) focuses on the so-called CDF collaboration at Fermilab, which eventually grew to 450 members, and on a paper published by the collaboration early in the search for the top quark, the last of the G quarks of the standard model of particle physics. He uses all available technical publications and countless interviews with collaboration members to report on and analyze the many technical decisions involved in building the detector and, finally, the decisions made on how to use this huge and complicated detector to best obtain evidence for the existence of the top quark. He also gets involved in the statistical validity of the data and possible sources of bias. The discussion of the personalities, politics, and funding as well as the science should make this book interesting to a diverse group of people including historians, philosophers, physicists, and well-informed nonscientists. Extensive notes. 
 -- As reviewed by R. L Stearns, CHOICE Reviews, November 2004. 

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