AirTalk for December 13, 2011

Harvard physicist illuminates the role science plays in our lives

By Lisa Randall

Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World

Most of us probably haven’t thought about physics on a daily basis since taking classes in high school or college. Even back then, the subject can be so mentally taxing that information is processed for tests and quickly forgotten. Still, understanding physics and the scientific approach can shed a great deal of light on how our universe works.

But there’s no need to dust off the old textbooks (besides, they’re probably outdated). Instead, look toward Harvard Professor of Physics Lisa Randall’s new book, “Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.”

Randall’s book, while written with the highest technical acumen, puts the most recondite aspects of physics into terms that are comprehensible to the typical layperson. And this is no dry, academic lecture; Randall employs her wry humor throughout the book and jumps from physics to her enthusiastic defense of science’s role in our lives.

WEIGH IN:

Are there any topics in physics you wish someone could better explain? Do you want to know how the Large Hadron Collider will reveal to scientists the nature of fundamental particles? Or maybe you want to understand application theory, or at least find out what it is? What can modern physics tell us about the way the world works today? What about how it will work tomorrow?

Guest:

Lisa Randall, Physicist and Author of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World” (HarperCollins); Professor of Science at Harvard University; one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” (2007)


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