Lisa Randall


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

The warp factor is a function that changes the overall scale for position, time, mass, and energy at each point in the fifth dimension.

We should figure out how to do this so that some parents don't feel disenfranchised, angry and upset. It says a lot about the state of where we are in the city, the role of parents and the reality of small school and combining schools.

The weak force violates parity symmetry by acting differently on left-handed and right-handed particles. It turns out that only left-handed particles experience the weak force. For example, a left-handed electron would experience the weak force, whereas one spinning to the right would not. Experiments show this clearly?it?s the way the world works?but there is no intuitive, mechanical explanation for why this should be so.

What I do is very theoretical. It won't necessarily have implications for anything anyone is doing tomorrow, yet you know that there's a sense of progress in science, and as we understand more, it just turns out that, somehow, the world evolves with us.

The word precisely captures what makes the universe so wonderful and so frustrating at the same time. A great deal seems beyond our reach and our comprehension, while still appearing to be close enough to tantalize us ? to dare us to enter and understand. The challenge for all approaches to knowledge is to make those less accessible aspects of the universe more immediate, more understandable, and ultimately less foreign. People want to learn to read and understand the book of nature and accommodate those lessons into the comprehensible world.

What makes me different as a scientist is that I'm kind of imaginative. The ideas just happen.

There are a lot of mysteries about quantum mechanics, but they mostly arise in very detailed measurements in controlled settings.

When a field takes a nonzero value, the best way to think about it is to imagine space manifesting the charge that the field carries, but not containing any actual particles.

There are many aspects of time we just do not understand. That?s the thing about writing a popular book: You realize the things you understand because for those you can give a really simple explanation. But some things about time I just don?t know how to give simple explanations for, even though I can tell you mathematically what?s going on.

When I came to Harvard, I was debating between math and science, and I guess I thought in the end I wanted something that could connect to the real world. I liked puzzle-solving and connections.

There are women for whom family is a priority, and they do it. It just wasn't as much a priority for me.

When I was in school I liked math because all the problems had answers. Everything else seemed very subjective.

There can sometimes be this fear among laypeople: 'I don't understand everything in science perfectly, so I just can't say anything about it.' I think it's good to know that we scientists are also confused some of the time.

When it comes to the world around us, is there any choice but to explore?

There could be more to the universe than the three dimensions we are familiar with. They are hidden from us in some way, perhaps because they're tiny or warped. But even if they're invisible, they could affect what we actually observe in the universe.

When people try to use religion to address the natural world, science pushes back on it, and religion has to accommodate the results. Beliefs can be permanent, but beliefs can also be flexible. Personally, if I find out my belief is wrong, I change my mind. I think that's a good way to live.

After all, the speed of light is finite, and our universe has existed for only a finite amount of time. That means that we can only possibly know about the surrounding region of space within the distance that light could have traveled since the universe?s inception. That is not infinitely far away. It defines a region known as the horizon, the dividing line between information that is and is not accessible to us.

For me, the most absorbing films are those that address big questions and real ideas but embody them in small examples that we can appreciate and comprehend.

I really like that my work is getting more people interested in science.

In the warped scenario, the field lines are equally distributed in all the directions on the brane. However, off the brane the field lines bend back around so that they become essentially parallel to the brane, almost as if the fifth dimension were finite. Even with an infinite dimension, the gravitational field is localized near the brane, and field lines spread essentially as if there were only four (spacetime) dimensions.

Our universe is in many respects sublime. It prompts wonder but can be daunting ? even frightening ? in its complexity. Nonetheless, the components fit together in marvelous ways. Art, science, and religion all aim to channel people?s curiosity and enlighten us by pushing the frontiers of our understanding. They promise, in their different ways, to help transcend the narrow confines of individual experience and allow us to enter into ? and comprehend ? the realm of the sublime.

Some branes are slices inside the space, but others are slices that bound space, like slices of bread in a sandwich. Either way, a brane is a domain that has fewer dimensions than the full higher-dimensional space that surrounds or borders it.

The separate aims shouldn?t be a source of conflict ? in fact they seem in principle to create a nice division of labor. However, religions don?t always stick to questions of purpose or comfort. Many religions attempt to address the external reality of the universe as well, as can be seen even in the definition of the word: The American Heritage Dictionary tells us that religion is ?belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshiped as the creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe.? says that religion is ?A set of beliefs concerning the causes, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observations, and of constructing a moral code governing the morality of human affairs.? Religion in these definitions is not only about people?s relationship to the world ? be it moral or emotional or spiritual ? but it?s about the world itself. This leaves religious views open to falsification. When science encroaches on domains of knowledge that religion attempts to explain, disagreements are bound to arise.

All of the lightest stable quarks and leptons have heavier replicas. No one knows why they are there, or what they are good for. When physicists first realized that the muon, a particle first seen in cosmic rays, was nothing other than a heavier version of the electron (200 times heavier), the physicist I.I. Rabi asked, Who ordered that?

For two events separated in time, a geodesic is the natural path things would take in spacetime to connect one event to the other.

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