Don Lincoln


On his book The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider

Cover Interview of May 13, 2009


Most books on physics written for the public concentrate on “big ideas” totally forgoing the common question “Yeah, but how do they know that?”  That’s where The Quantum Frontier comes in.  And while we all must trust experts at some level, it’s comforting to understand why it is that scientists have the confidence that they do.  I hope that reading this book will enable a non-scientific reader to understand the principles that govern the LHC accelerator and the detectors that record the data.  The experience should be like that of getting a glimpse under the hood of an exotic European race car.

I am sometimes asked why I write books for the public, when the time could be used more profitably to do research.  It is a duty, indeed a privilege, to be able to share the excitement of frontier science with the general readers who are interested in the subject.  There is another audience I have in mind as well.  My path was not an obvious one, for neither my mother nor my father are scientifically-inclined.  I am very grateful to my truly-wonderful parents.  But they could not provide the kind of scientific role models some of my colleagues enjoyed in their childhoods.  To indulge my youthful scientific curiosity I read.  Prodigiously.  Nothing was exempt, although science fiction was my passion.  As I got older, I was introduced to writings by Carl Sagan, and to Isaac Asimov’s popular science books, and to George Gamow.  I was hooked…  Science fiction is bound only by the writer’s imagination and the reader’s credulity.  In science though, there is an answer.  It is the universe itself.

Since then, I have devoted my life to the grand study of the cosmos—an endeavor that has spanned human history and will continue long after I have breathed my last.  The science that I read now is more technical than what I read decades ago.  But the spark started then, with the popular writings of a few who may have known of the impact they would have.  Somewhere out there, there are potential young scientists, needing a similar kind of introduction to find their true calling.  I write for them.

© 2009 Don Lincoln