It is just wrong! January 20, 2009Posted by gordonwatts in physics life.
You see me there holding the old 2006 Particle Data Book on the left, and the new 2008/9 one on the right. This is the bible for the field of particle physics. The small book contains just about everything you might want to quickly look up – particle masses, decays, lifetimes, status of searches, etc. The big version contains everything, including reviews of just about every relevant topic in the field (not shown, it is over 2000 full size pages of small print).
But look at these two guys carefully. Note how small the blue 2008 version is. That will actually fit in your pocket. Or a small pocket in your book bag. The orange one – quite a bit bigger (and thicker), and has a spiral binding. Has the knowledge of the field really increased that much over the past two years?
While the spiral binding is good – the old version of mine has never made it through two years without the binding splitting – the size is not. It won’t fit in a pocket, and it won’t fit in a book bag pocket either. The upshot is it sits out in a larger pocket. After having had this for only 3 weeks the pages are already more beat up than my two year old old version.
I wish they would bring back the old version!
In this day and age, however, it isn’t clear this matters any more. Versions of the book are available for almost all mobile platforms now. And the full version is less than 100 megs – so easily fits on your portable’s hard disk (or a USB key for that matter). Maybe the printed material just doesn’t matter any more!