Maurice Jacob

At the Heart of the Matter Publication date : October 1, 2001

In this book Maurice Jacob, who directed the study of theoretical physics at CERN for nearly 20 years, recounts the stories of the experimental discoveries and the theoretical models in particle physics in the second half of the 20th century. The emergence of this discipline is, along with molecular biology, one of the major scientific feats in the second half of the century. The field allows us to understand not only the composition of matter but also the origin and evolution of the universe. However, Jacob warns us that, even though much has been discovered, we are still very far from understanding everything. The second message of the book is a sociological one. The type of physics practiced in laboratories such as CERN creates connections between international political divisions and those people that transcend such divisions. Science is no longer abstractly universal but becoming immediate and accessible.

The CERN (Center for Nuclear Study and Research) is one of the European institutions that has had the most success in rivaling the USA in the study of elementary particle physics and high energies, and currently has surpassed all other institutions in the power of its instruments. Maurice Jacob is the honorary director of the division of theoretical physics at CERN, in Geneva, and the counsel to the general director concerning relations with member groups.