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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
Book cover for Space Oddities next to a portrait of Harry Cliff, on a bright yellow background.

In Space Oddities, Cavendish particle physicist Harry Cliff tells the story of the anomalies that have lit up the physics world in the past few years, and asks: are they just cruel tricks of the data, or the keys to a new view of the universe?

Something strange is going on in the cosmos. Scientists are uncovering a catalogue of weird phenomena that simply can’t be explained by our long-established theories of the universe. Particles with unbelievable energies are bursting from beneath the Antarctic ice. Unknown forces seem to be tugging on the basic building blocks of matter. Stars are flying away from us far faster than anyone can explain.

In his newest book, Cliff provides a riveting look at the universe’s most confounding puzzles. In a journey that spans continents, he meets the men and women who have spent their careers on those uncertain results, from the machine builders who have devoted decades to crafting the perfect experiments, to the theorists imagining what may lie beyond the edge of our understanding.

Cliff, who works on the LHCb experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider said:

“The inspiration for this book came from my own research at the Large Hadron Collider, where my colleagues have been pursuing a range of anomalies in the behaviour of fundamental particles over the last decade.

Anomaly chasing is an exciting, but perilous business, with the promise of major breakthroughs in understanding and the ever-present danger of being fooled by missed biases or cruel quirks of the data.

It's a story of how science really works: not of 'eureka' moments when everything becomes clear in a blinding flash, but of years of hard graft, chasing down those weird experimental effects that could be the clues to next big breakthrough.”

Space Oddities is Cliff’s second book after How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch. It is published by Picador in the UK and Doubleday in the USA.


Space Oddities - The Mysterious Anomalies Challenging Our Understanding Of The Universe