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Smash!  : Exploring the Mysteries of the Universe with the Large Hadron Collider - Sara Latta


Exploring the Mysteries of the Universe with the Large Hadron Collider

By: Sara Latta, Jeff Weigel (Illustrator)

Hardcover | 1 January 2017

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This book uses the strengths of a graphic novel to illustrate scientific advances in a way that's engaging, timely, and easy to follow. Great for reluctant readers and science obsessives alike, with strong STEM/curricular connections and a fascinating hig

Two cousins, Nick and Sophie, take a graphic-novel tour of the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest machine. Sophie's a science wiz. Nick's more artistic. Together they visit At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and explore what the universe is made of and what holds it all together. At the center of their visit is the Large Hadron Collider. Researchers use the collider to accelerate particles and smash them together. They study the results to find the hidden building blocks of matter. Using its two lively lead characters and graphic artwork, this book looks at challenging STEM concepts in an accessible, memorable way.
  • A "pop science" book - humourous and never boring, featuring clear, explaining complex concepts in a visual manner through inventive graphic artwork.
  • Curricular and STEM connections.

About the Author

Sara Latta began writing about science and medicine after receiving a master's degree in immunology. Later, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She lives in New York City with her husband, a physicist and Dean of Science at City College of New York, and their children. Sara is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the National Association of Science Writers, and The Authors Guild.

Jeff Weigel is an illustrator, author, and designer of children's books and graphic novels. Jeff illustrated the 2009 New York Times bestseller It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Zombies: A Book Of Zombie Christmas Carols, and he wrote, illustrated, and designed Shop Math, an interactive tablet storybook. He was also a regular contributor to Image Comics' anthology title, Big Bang Comics , for more than ten years. His latest book is the middle-grade graphic novel Dragon Girl: The Secret Valley. He has served as a graphic designer and commercial illustrator for many years as well.
Industry Reviews

An accessible look at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and particle physics. Nick, an aspiring comic book creator, visits his cousin Sophie at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, where her parents work as physicists. Nick doesn't know a lot about science but is looking for superpower ideas for his characters. Sophie enlightens Nick with help from a pair of graduate students. Nick learns about forces, quarks, and neutrinos, and more. The text conveys the excitement surrounding the 2012 discovery of the Higgs Boson and concludes with the mysteries of dark matter that have yet to be cracked by science. Principles of particle physics may seem hard to grasp, but Latta uses humor and real-world examples to keep readers engaged. The illustrations will go far in making concepts understandable. VERDICT: This title will be sought out for both pleasure reading and report writing. For all middle and high school science collections.--School Library Journal

-- "Journal"

Informational graphic novels are generally too dense with facts to invite a browse yet structured so they're not conducive to straight research. How do we accommodate them in a collection? Whose hands are they meant for? Luckily, many young minds are hungry for questions that lead them to ever newer and deeper questions. Smash! offers this in spades as Nick and Sophie take a tour that leads from the smallest particles to the biggest bang, culminating with the Large Hadron Collider and how physicists use it to search for the building blocks of the universe. Though it's as dense as expected, Latta keeps the book from bogging down by offering clear, concise explanations that will appeal to those whose minds are already tickled by the mysteries of physics. Nick and Sophie skew a bit too young, but as they meet historical scientists and plunge into abstract concepts and far-out ideas, Weigel's art accommodates with metaphysical twists in the action, while his realistic figures and objects remind readers that everything here relates to the cosmos they actually live in.--Booklist

-- "Journal"

Two young visitors take simultaneous tours of the world of subatomic particles and of the largest scientific instrument ever built. As in her picture book Stella Brite and the Dark Matter Mystery (illustrated by Meredith Johnson, 2006), Latta brushes a thin gloss of storyline over a series of lucid lectures delivered largely in dialogue. Following an introduction to quarks and other components of the Standard Model of particle physics that's capped by a quick trip back to the Big Bang, science-minded Sophie leads her more artistically inclined cousin Nick to a meeting with two grad-student tour guides at CERN. From there it's on to view parts of the Large Hadron Collider, from a locomotive-sized linear accelerator to the 27-kilometer tunnel in which protons zip to incredible collisions that have, most recently, led to glimpses of the elusive Higgs Boson. In panels that are large enough to accommodate hefty dialogue balloons without looking overcrowded, Weigel mixes realistically drawn people--including Einstein, Peter Higgs, and other renowned scientists--with intricately detailed devices and playful but illuminating visualizations of events at both subatomic and universewide levels. In the black-and-white illustrations everyone has light skin, but Sophie is biracial, and some figures may have Asian features. Summary looks at particle physics' pioneers and certain still-unsolved mysteries are appended. Big tech at its biggest; weird science at its weirdest: readers will echo Sophie's 'It's amazeballs!'--Kirkus Reviews

-- "Journal"

When Nick needs to create a comic book superhero for a competition, he enlists the help of his cousin, Sophie, a physics wiz who gives him a tour of CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider. Their jaunt through the CERN facilities in Geneva turns into a tutorial about the complex history and science behind the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle. Latta (Scared Stiff) methodically builds up background information about fundamental particles to explain how it all fits together ('The standard model was a good theory, but . . . it couldn't explain why some particles have mass, ' explains physicist Peter Higgs, making a cameo). Weigel's (Dragon Girl: The Secret Valley) b&w illustrations help make each concept clear: in one scene, the cousins pass a basketball back and forth on an ice rink, the ball acting like a 'force carrier' as the kids are pushed farther apart with each catch. The comic-making thread feels like an unnecessary overlay, and the jokes are occasionally corny, but overall it's an engaging introduction to particle physics, the Big Bang, dark matter, and more.--Publishers Weekly

-- "Journal"

5Q 3P M J S

Readers join Sophie, daughter of two scientists who work at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), as she takes her cousin, Nick, on a tour through the center, the largest physics lab on the planet. Sophie shares the basics on the building blocks of the universe and explains how CERN helps scientists learn about our world. Most of the explanations are via dialogue between the cousins. The tour takes on big questions with tiny parts, like how there are six flavors of quarks. By the end of the book, readers will know about the Higgs Boson, the Large Hadron Collider's working parts, and so much more.

Think of this as a short, science-based book in the same vein as Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics (Tundra, 1993). Characters and setting exist as a means to convey information. Latta and Weigel succeed in breaking down major physics themes into bite-sized pieces, making this a great entry into complex concepts. The black-and-white illustrations work in tandem with the subject matter, reinforcing ideas and clarifying obtuse physics jargon with ease. The book succeeds due to the genuine enthusiasm for the subject matter that shines through each page. This story is exceptionally dorky and packed with silly jokes, but it is hard to resist such unabashed joy for science. This book is highly recommended for science classes or school collections.--VOYA

-- "Journal"

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