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Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions Paperback – September 19, 2006
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is intended for a popular audience, but is also a very interesting read for anybody with a background in theoretical physics (like myself). The first part contains an overview of modern physics - Einstein's theories of relativity, quantum mechanics and the Standard Model of particle physics. The last part concentrates on the idea of extra dimensions beyond the standard four we know about, which can be motivated by string theory and its discovery of the so-called D-branes. Specifically, she explains the work, pioneered by herself, Raman Sundrum and others, on the so-called "braneworld scenarios". Basically, this is the idea that our four dimensional space-time is embedded in some higher dimensional space, usually called the "bulk".
You might think, that extra dimensions are just part of a set of crazy ideas? On the contrary. You should know, that the idea of extra dimensions is actually not at all new. Already in 1884, the original book, "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions" (written by the English mathematician Edwin Abbott) described a world of two-dimensional beings, who only have indirect knowledge of the extra third space-dimension. But, from a mathematical point of view, one can imagine as many dimensions as one wants to. In physics, the story is somewhat different.
In physics, there are basically two distinct ways in which one can add extra dimensions to our four-dimensional universe. Already in the 1920's, Klein suggested that our universe is five-dimensional, where the extra dimension is rolled up in a circle, which is so tiny, that the universe looks four-dimensional at long enough distance-scales.Read more ›
She is also refreshingly honest. She explains the motivation for her work, but unlike many of our colleagues, she does not oversell. You can think of her as a reliable climbing guide. With her help you can get to the top of a mountain you could not climb yourself. But you never forget about the difficultyies and the risks that both professionals and amateurs take when we try to advance our understanding of the laws of nature.
As a theorist myself, I am aware of how far we are from solving the problems in elementary particle physics thyat Lisa Randall's work addresses. But I am sure we will get there and my optimism is due in no small part to the fact that Lisa and her colleagues are on the case.
I understand the basic ideas of quantum mechanics and particle physics, and I want something more, a deeper understanding. She states the facts that can be found in an encyclopedia (e.g., "the uncertainty principle means that position and momentum cannot both be measured"), but when she tries to go deeper and into more detail, I found her explanations incomprehensible. They seem to me to be both too simple (and her tone often condescending) and too complex. I beat my head against the wall re-reading sections of the text trying to grasp her meaning, which she is maddeningly confident that she has conveyed, but finally concluded that in many of the sections the words simply were not there that needed to be there. Sufficient bridges are not created from one idea to the next, and in her effort to avoid scaring people away with long explanations, she has instead given insufficient explanations. A lot of space that could have been given over to actual explanation is taken up with literary fluff and the typical popular-science-book encouragements of "don't worry if this seems hard, I know you can do it!" I have stopped halfway through, and haven't even gotten to the parts about extra dimensions. Maybe I should just skip to those.Read more ›
"Elegant Universe") and cinema ("What the BLEEP Do We Know?")as well as an extant excellent press by actual Cosmologists such as Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking have "softened up" an avid readership for this book. Dr. Randall is "spherically exquisite", to paraphrase Fritz Zwicky: She is perfect from any angle;cutting edge benchwork researcher; top line theorist; most-quoted author; Harvard Professor....PLUS she's a HOTTIE (my son's words). As she walks you through the requisite historical and theoretical building blocks for armchair Cosmology, her clarity is best ever. Her expansion into extradimensional physics verges upon the philosophic, without straying into the "touchy/feely" quasi religious miasma of cult fiction. Elucidating the Multidimensional Brane Theory of Everything is a task she accomplishes with clarity, wit and a mere hint or Feminism (quite appropriate in her male-dominated field). This is a Great Book. I'm giving it to all my colleagues on our Medical Faculty as well as my friends who share my fascination with Physics, but lack the requisite Math. ( Dr. Randall even supplies much of that onerous mathematical work,unburdened in her unique style, which makes the most stygian topic clear as daylight). Brava, Dr. Randall!
Dennis R. Meyer MD, FACP
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lisa Randall of Harvard is one of the most imaginative popularizers of modern physics, who has the mind of a brilliant physicist combined with the imagination of a poet. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Roger B. Clough
As a short review, if you are interested in the subject of particle physics and extra dimensions, don't waste your time reading this book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by John S. Reid
The author does an outstanding job of making a very complicated, technical, and arcane subject real, useful, and understandable. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Orlando J. Manci
Well I made it to page 350. Prior to that I started to skim over the pages. I thought and hoped this book would clear up Quantum Mechanics, String Theory and Branes. Well sort of. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kilroy
Intriguing and thought provoking... half way through will finish on the book on my flights this weekPublished 6 months ago by Charles Hilliard
Very well written, this book starts with energy but seemed to lose steam for me.Published 6 months ago by Tiffany