The discovery of a new elementary particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in 2012 made headlines in world media. Since we already know of a large number of elementary particles, why did this latest discovery generate so much excitement? This small book reveals that this particle provides the key to understanding one of the most extraordinary phenomena which occurred in the early Universe. It introduces the mechanism that made possible, within tiny fractions of a second after the Big Bang, the generation of massive particles. The Origin of Mass is a guided tour of cosmic evolution, from the Big Bang to the elementary particles we study in our accelerators today. The guiding principle of this book is a concept of symmetry which, in a profound and fascinating way, seems to determine the structure of the Universe.
John Iliopoulos is a CNRS Director of Research Emeritus at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, where for many years, he was the head of the Theoretical Physics Department. His research was centred around theoretical particle physics. In 1970, in collaboration with Sheldon Glashow and Luciano Maiani, he predicted the existence of the charm quark and proposed the GIM mechanism, an important step in the construction of the Standard Model. He has also contributed to the development of supersymmetry (with Bruno Zumino and Pierre Fayet). He has received many awards, such as the Ricard Prize of the French Physical Society, the Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society, the High Energy Physics Prize of the European Physical Society and the Dirac Medal.