Lisa Randall

Lisa
Randall
1962

American Theoretical Physicist, Expert on Particle Physics and Cosmology, Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science on the Physics Faculty of Harvard University

Author Quotes

This doesn?t mean that science necessarily will answer all questions. People who think science will solve all human problems are probably on the wrong track as well. But it does mean that the pursuit of science has been and will continue to be a worthwhile endeavor. We don?t yet know all the answers. But scientifically inclined people, whether or not they have religious faith, try to pry open the universe and find them.

You can be only a modest distance away from the gravity brane, and gravity will be incredibly weak.

The thing I will say is that probably culturally, women are treated differently, which means, I think, you're criticized more, you have to listen a little bit more, you have to justify yourself.

Travel at faster than the speed of light certainly can have dramatic implications that are difficult to understand, such as time travel.

You have principles. You test them as accurately as you can. Eventually, they might break down.

The uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics, coupled with the relations of special relativity, tell us that, using physical constants, we can relate a particle?s mass, energy, and momentum to the minimum size of the region in which a particle of that energy can experience forces or interactions.

Trillions of solar neutrinos pass through you each second, but interact so weakly that you never notice.

You have to be careful when you use beauty as a guide. There are many theories people didn't think were beautiful at the time but did find beautiful later and vice versa. I think simplicity is a good guide: The more economical a theory, the better.

The uncertainty principle tells us that it would take infinitely long to measure energy (or mass) with infinite precision, and that the longer a particle lasts, the more accurate our measurement of its energy can be. But if the particle is short-lived and its energy cannot possibly be determined with infinite precision, the energy can temporarily deviate from that of a true long-lived particle. In fact, because of the uncertainty principle, particles will do whatever they can get away with for as long as they can.

We certainly don't yet know all the answers. But the universe is about to be pried open.

You learn that the interest is in what you don't yet know and that theories evolve. But we nonetheless have progress and improved knowledge over time.

The uncertainty principle tells us that you need high-momentum particles to probe or influence physical processes at short distances, and special relativity relates that momentum to a mass.

We have this very clean picture of science, you know, these well-established rules with which we make predictions. But when you're really doing science, when you're doing research, you're at the edge of what we know.

You might find it hard to imagine gravity as a weak force, but consider that a small magnet can hold up a paper clip, even though the entire earth is pulling down on it.

The universe has its secrets. Extra dimensions of space might be one of them. If so, the universe has been hiding those dimensions, protecting them, keeping them coyly under wraps. From a casual glance, you would never suspect a thing.

We live in a world where there are many risks, and it's high time we start taking seriously which ones we should be worried about.

By analogy, we know that if a hypersphere (a sphere with four spatial dimensions) were to pass through our universe, it would appear to us as a time sequence of three-dimensional spheres that increase, then decrease, in size.

I considered going into business or becoming a lawyer - not for the money, but for the thrill of problem-solving.

If such external influences are intrinsic to religion, then logic and scientific thought dictate that there must be a mechanism by which this influence is transmitted. A religious or spiritual belief that involves an invisible undetectable force that nonetheless influences human actions and behavior or that of the world itself produces a situation in which a believer has no choice but to have faith and abandon logic--or simply not care.

Naively, special relativity would therefore tell us that those particles should be able to travel forwards and backwards in time as well. But so far as we know, neither particles nor anything else we are aware of can actually travel backwards in time. What happens instead is that oppositely charged antiparticles replace the reverse-time-traveling particles. Antiparticles reproduce the effects the reverse-time-traveling particles would have so that even without them, quantum field theory?s predictions are compatible with special relativity.

Science aims for a predictive physical picture that can explain how things work. The methods and goals of science and religion are intrinsically different, with science addressing physical reality, and religion addressing psychological or social human desires or needs.

The fermionic nature of most fundamental particles determines many properties of the matter around us. The Pauli exclusion principle, in particular, states that two fermions of the same type will never be found in the same place. The exclusion principle is what gives the atom the structure upon which chemistry is based.

Clearly people who want to believe that God can intervene to help them or alter the world at some point have to invoke nonscientific thinking. Even if science doesn't necessarily tell us why things happen, we do know how things move and interact. If God has no physical influence, things won't move. Even our thoughts, which ultimately rely on electrical signals moving in our brains, won't be affected.... If such external influences are intrinsic to religion, then logic and scientific thought dictate that there must be a mechanism by which this influence is transmitted. A religious or spiritual belief that involves an invisible undetectable force that nonetheless influences human actions and behavior or that of the world itself produces a situation in which a believer has no choice but to have faith and abandon logic--or simply not care.

I do theoretical particle physics. We're trying to understand the most basic structure of matter. And the way you do that is you have to look at really small distances. And to get to small distances, you need high energies.

If we don't do it now, we'll probably never do it. We've built up the technology; we're at a point where if we don't continue, we'll lose that expertise, and we'll have to start all over again. True, it's expensive, but at the end of the day I believe it will be worth it. It makes a difference in terms of who we are, what we think, how we view the world. These are the kinds of things that get people excited about science, so you have a more educated public.

Author Picture
First Name
Lisa
Last Name
Randall
Birth Date
1962
Bio

American Theoretical Physicist, Expert on Particle Physics and Cosmology, Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science on the Physics Faculty of Harvard University