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It is just wrong! January 20, 2009

Posted 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!



1. Claire - January 20, 2009

Advantage 1 of being a girl… Handbags!

2. Gordon Watts - January 20, 2009

So, either I carry around a smartphone or a manpurse. There really is only once choice, right? Ok — off to the phone store for an upgrade!! 😉

3. Aleksie - January 20, 2009

The blue one looks like those Bibles people hand out on the street corner.

4. gordonwatts - January 20, 2009

🙂 Definately the bible for us!

5. Camille - January 21, 2009

I know the reason I always break the binding on mine before the two years are up is that in order for it to stay open at a given page, I flip it open side down on my desk. Inevitably, it then gets drowned under a pile of other stuff, and the back eventually gives out. So I am willing to give the spiral binding a fair try, at least in my office. I might still travel with the old one, at least until it gets too beaten up to hold together.

6. Gordon Watts - January 21, 2009

Too true. The only down side to that is I used to carry it everywhere – it just doesn’t fit well any more. We’ll see. Perhaps in two years I remember to blog about this issue again. 🙂

7. Ivan - January 24, 2009

I agree with you! I got the pocket booklet and its just not as comfortable as the pervious one was. I still use the blue one for what I need (im really new to Particle physics so I just need some approximate and relative new data for what Im doing right now). I hope that the next version they could improve this, I find it better to search for this info in a printable format.

8. Jiri - November 9, 2010

No improvement in 2010 it seems;-)

9. gordonwatts - November 10, 2010

Ha! You are right! 😉

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