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Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio; Library - Unabridged CD edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452634394
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452634395
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.9 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,993,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This volume should appeal to experts and nonexperts alike intrigued by the latest scientific advances in our understanding of the cosmos." ---Library Journal

From the Back Cover

From one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, a rousing defense of the role of science in our lives

The latest developments in physics have the potential to radically revise our understanding of the world: its makeup, its evolution, and the fundamental forces that drive its operation. Knocking on Heaven’s Door is an exhilarating and accessible overview of these developments and an impassioned argument for the significance of science.

There could be no better guide than Lisa Randall. The bestselling author of Warped Passages is an expert in both particle physics (the study of the smallest objects we know of) and cosmology (the study of the largest). In Knocking on Heaven’s Door, she explores how we decide which scientific questions to study and how we go about answering them. She examines the role of risk, creativity, uncertainty, beauty, and truth in scientific thinking through provocative conversations with leading figures in other fields (such as the chef David Chang, the forecaster Nate Silver, and the screenwriter Scott Derrickson), and she explains with wit and clarity the latest ideas in physics and cosmology. Randall describes the nature and goals of the largest machine ever built: the Large Hadron Collider, the enormous particle accelerator below the border of France and Switzerland—as well as recent ideas underlying cosmology and current dark matter experiments.

The most sweeping and exciting science book in years, Knocking on Heaven’s Door makes clear the biggest scientific questions we face and reveals how answering them could ultimately tell us who we are and where we came from.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Lisa Randall is Professor of Physics at Harvard University. She is one of today's most influential and highly cited theoretical physicists, and has received numerous awards and honors for her contributions. Her work has been featured in Time magazine, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vogue, the Economist, Scientific American, and elsewhere. Randall is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Physical Society, and is the recipient of several honorary degrees. When not solving the problems of the universe, she can be found rock climbing, skiing, or contributing to art-science connections. Hypermusic Prologue, a small opera for which she wrote the libretto, premiered in the Pompidou Center in 2009, and Measure for Measure, an art exhibit she co-curated, opened in Los Angeles in 2010.

Customer Reviews

I have not finished reading this book, and I am ready to give it a great review.
Finewine
What is good about this book is that the author Lisa Randall does an excellent job at clearly explaining those concepts she sets out to explain.
Book Fanatic
I keep thinking if I just read one more book I'll get what the hell these people are talking about - I mean, really get it.
Richard Wells

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

337 of 365 people found the following review helpful By A. Jogalekar VINE VOICE on September 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The last few years have seen a proliferation of popular physics books aimed at explaining the mysteries of modern physics to the layman. This is a worthy endeavor and Lisa Randall is one of its leading expositors. This book is really two books in one. The first part is a clear and spirited discussion of particle physics and cosmology. The second part is an equally clear meditation on the nature of the scientific method and the value of science and reason.

Randall especially shines in explaining the real everyday science (as opposed to just the philosophy) behind frontier research in physics. Thus, she spends a sizable amount of time explaining some of the less emphasized practical aspects of the science like errors and uncertainty in measurements, risk factors, "effective theories" (theories applicable at particular scales) and statistics. She provides a readable treatment of the Standard Model of particle physics and emphasizes why finding the Higgs boson is so important. In addition she has what I think is one of the clearest accounts of the structure and function of the LHC in Geneva. In the part about cosmology, she discusses in detail the riddle of dark matter and dark energy and what the latest telescopes and satellites might tell us about the birth and structure of the universe.

The second half of the book presents a robust defense of science and reason as well as some thoughts on the connections between beauty, creativity and science. Randall understands that while mathematical beauty may be a guiding principle for theoretical physics, ultimately beauty is subjective and the only true test of a theory is a clear connection to experiment.
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149 of 162 people found the following review helpful By Lubos Motl on September 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Several string theorists such as Brian Greene or Leonard Susskind and cosmologists such as Alexander Vilenkin have written popular books about physics but as far as I know, Lisa Randall is the only popular writer among the "high-energy phenomenologists", i.e. the theoretical particle physicists who think about Nature from the viewpoint of phenomena that have been observed or that may be observed in a foreseeable future (mostly at the particle accelerators).

And we, the readers, have been especially fortunate because the book about physics from the viewpoint of phenomenologists wasn't written by a random phenomenologist but by one of the most prominent ones. In fact, Randall was identified as the most referred to particle physicist - among both women and men, just to be sure - in a recent 5-year period. She remains extremely active and influential.

Knocking on Heaven's Door has two basic goals. One of them is to introduce the reader to the cutting-edge research in particle physics which is dominated by the LHC experiment. Collisions of protons inside the 27-kilometer ring on the Swiss-French border have interrupted decades of theoretical dominance and relative experimental impotence (even though the book describes some smaller colliders or LHC predecessors, too). Randall who constantly interacts with the experimenters offers us an exciting story of the LHC collider from its conception to the first femtobarn of collisions.
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123 of 141 people found the following review helpful By User on January 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a working physicist, 30 years past my Ph. D., and I picked up this book thinking it would be interesting to learn about progress in particle physics and cosmology. I was very disappointed. The meat of the book is Chapters 16 and 17, where Prof. Randall finally gets to describing the theory behind the Higgs boson and other anticipated discoveries from the LHC. These are so poorly written it seems like her editor just figured, "no one will understand this, so why bother trying to make it readable." The sentence structure is convoluted to the point that, even with multiple readings, it's impossible to tell the point she's trying to make. She throws around terms like "weak charge" without ever bothering to explain whether this quantity is a weak version of the electric charge or an analogy of electric charge that conveys the weak force. She frequently makes reference to the Planck length, without ever saying what it is, where it comes from, or how to translate between distance and energy, which she uses interchangeably.

This weakness is illustrated by her explanation of the possible applicability of extra dimensions to explain the 16 orders-of-magnitude difference between gravity and the weak force, one of the few contributions she takes personal credit for. You could just say, "the forces are of different strengths" and leave it at that. Randall says, in essence, "Imagine gravity is 10^16 times stronger on another brane in another dimension, but that dimension is coupled to our world by an arbitrary coupling constant of 10^-16." This adds nothing of intellectual value to the field, but the buzzwords have been used, so it's time to schedule a book tour and let the accolades roll in.
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