Synopses & Reviews
The universe has its secrets. It may even hide extra dimensions, different from anything ever imagined. A whole raft of remarkable conceptsnow rides atop the scientific firmament, including parallel universes, warped geometry, and threedimensional sink-holes. We understand far more about the world than we did just a few short years ago -- and yet we are more uncertain about the true nature of the universe than ever before. Have wereached a point of scientific discovery so advanced that the laws of physics as we know them are simply not sufficient? Will we all soon have to acceptexplanations that previously remained in the realm of science fiction?
Lisa Randall is herself making these extraordinary breakthroughs, pushing back the boundaries of science in her research to answer some of the most fundamental questions posed by Nature. For example, why is the gravitational field from the entire Earth so defenseless against the small tug of a tiny magnet? Searching for answers to such seemingly irresolvable questions has led physicists to postulate extra dimensions, the presence of which may lead to unimaginable gains in scientific understanding. Randall takes us into the incredible world of warped, hidden dimensions that underpin the universe we live in, describing how we might prove their existence, while examining the questions that they still leave unanswered.
Warped Passages provides an exhilarating overview that tracks the arc of discovery from early twentieth-century physics to the razor's edge of today's particle physics and string theory, unweaving the current debates about relativity, quantum mechanics, and gravity. In a highly readable style sure to entertain and elucidate, Lisa Randall demystifies the science and beguilingly unravels the mysteries of the myriad worlds that may exist just beyond the one we are only now beginning to know.
"The concept of additional spatial dimensions is as far from intuitive as any idea can be. Indeed, although Harvard physicist Randall does a very nice job of explaining often deftly through the use of creative analogies how our universe may have many unseen dimensions, readers' heads are likely to be swimming by the end of the book. Randall works hard to make her astoundingly complex material understandable, providing a great deal of background for recent advances in string and supersymmetry theory. As coauthor of the two most important scientific papers on this topic, she's ideally suited to popularize the idea. What is absolutely clear is that physicists simply do not yet know if there are extra dimensions a fraction of a millimeter in size, dimensions of infinite size or only the dimensions we see. What's also clear is that the large hadron collider, the world's most powerful tool for studying subatomic particles, is likely to provide information permitting scientists to differentiate among these ideas soon after it begins operation in Switzerland in 2007. Randall brings much of the excitement of her field to life as she describes her quest to understand the structure of the universe. B&w illus. Agent, John Brockman. (Sept. 1)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Lisa Randall studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University, where she is the Frank J. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science and the author of the New York Times Notable Books Knocking on Heaven's Door and Warped Passages. Her work has set her among the most cited and influential theoretical physicists today, and she is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. When not solving the problems of the universe, Randall can be found rock climbing, skiing, or contributing to art-science connections. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.