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Lisa Randall: Physics, Science, And The Universe

With Anthony Brooks in for Tom Ashbrook.

Top flight physicist Lisa Randall on understanding the universe, from particles to the cosmos.

This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix nebula, a cosmic starlet often photographed by amateur astronomers for its vivid colors and eerie resemblance to a giant eye.  (NASA)

This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix nebula, a cosmic starlet often photographed by amateur astronomers for its vivid colors and eerie resemblance to a giant eye. (NASA)

If you care about the big questions of the physical world, then Lisa Randall would be great company at a dinner party.  Over drinks, the Harvard physicist could tell you what we know and don’t know about particle physics and cosmology.

During dinner she’d use poetry to describe the Large Hadron Collider – the biggest machine ever built – and the mysteries it could soon reveal.  And with dessert — a passionate argument for the value of scientific thinking and what we lose when we put faith over logic.

This hour, On Point: Knocking on Heaven’s Door with Lisa Randall.

-Anthony Brooks

Guests

Lisa Randall, professor at Harvard University, studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology. Her new book is Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World. Read an excerpt.

From The Reading List

The Harvard Crimson “Though Randall’s professional prowess lies in the sciences, she became interested in the arts when she was invited to write the libretto for “Hypermusic Prologue: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes” after Spanish composer Hector Parra read her book “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions.””

Symmetry Magazine “The noted theorist and author is on tour with her new book, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.” Randall says that scales of measurement are the critical factor in studying the universe, the quantum world and our everyday experiences: We must be able to make measurements “on the scale that is most useful to what we want to see and what we want to know,” she says.”

Live Science “What is the nature of time and space? How did the universe begin, and how will it end? These are existential questions for most people, but they’re all in a day’s work for physicist Lisa Randall. The Harvard university scientist has researched particle physics, string theory, and the possibility of extra dimensions.”

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