SMASH! Exploring the Mysteries of the Universe with the Large Hadron Collider

Book Information
Rating: Dependable
Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Sara Latta
Illustrator: Jeff Weigel
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Year: 2017
ISBN: 9781467785518
Pages: 72

Sophie takes her cousin Nick on a tour of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, to explore the mysteries of the subatomic universe. Nick is looking for ideas for a comic strip he is writing and Sophie helps him by teaching him about the fundamental particles and forces. They also learn about the Large Hadron Collider, Dark Matter, and the Big Bang with the help of some graduate students who work there. Science is amazing and Nick gets lots of ideas for his comic book superheroes.

Formatting this story as a graphic novel gave the author an additional platform to convey some complex physics concepts. The black and white illustrations helped to clarify and support many of her explanations. On the other hand, the graphic format also creates a lot of empty dialogue that dries out the book and adds volume. The first half of the book is dedicated to understanding the different fundamental particles (quarks, leptons, bosons) and fundamental forces (strong, weak, gravitational, electromagnetic). Each is explained in a simple and concise way which makes them easier to understand. Easier, but not easy. There are still some very complicated concepts to grasp, such as the Higgs boson. The second half of the book is all about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC): how it works, what it is used for, and how it was built. The second half is very interesting and well written, unlike the formulaic string of definitions of the first half which serve as a knowledge base for readers so they can understand the LHC better.