Jon Butterworth

Jon Butterworth is Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCL and works on the ATLAS Experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. He studied at the University of Oxford, receiving a DPhil in particle physics.

He is the author of Smashing Physics, A Map of the Invisible and of the ‘Life and Physics’ blog for the Guardian.

He was awarded the 2013 Chadwick Medal of the Institute of Physics for his pioneering experimental and phenomenological work in high energy particle physics.

Chadwick Medal and Prize
The Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award


A Map of the Invisible: Journeys into Particle Physics

Jon Butterworth

What is the universe made of? How do we know? And what don’t we know yet? Over the last 60 years, scientists around the world have worked together to explore the fundamental constituents of matter, and the forces that govern their behaviour. The result, so far, is the ‘Standard Model’ of elementary particles: a theoretical map of the basic building blocks of the universe. With the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, the map as we know it was completed, but also extended into strange and new territory.

A Map of the Invisible is an explorer’s guide to the Standard Model and the extraordinary realms of particle physics. After shrinking us down to the size of a sub-atomic particle, pioneering physicist Jon Butterworth takes us on board his research vessel for a journey in search of atoms and quarks, electrons and neutrinos, and the forces that shape the universe. Step by step, we travel into the world of the unseen, discovering phenomena both weird and wonderful, from atoms to black holes and dark matter, and beyond, to the outer reaches of the cosmos and the frontiers of human knowledge.

Beautifully illustrated, with gradually evolving maps offering an inventive visual glossary as the journey progresses, A Map of the Invisible provides an essential introduction to our world, and to particle physics. It is a landmark work of non-fiction by one of the great scientists and science writers of today.

‘A magnificent, compelling and insightful voyage’

— Brian Cox

Smashing Physics

Jon Butterworth

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? And 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.

This book will also 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

‘Most of the existing popular accounts of the events leading up to the July 2012 discovery claim at CERN are written from a theoretical perspective by outsiders. Jon Butterworth is an experimentalist and is the first to give a vivid account of what the process of discovery was really like for an insider.’

— Peter Higgs

‘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