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on May 21, 2017
Let me say right off that the author is way smarter than I am and forgets more about physics than I will ever learn in my lifetime. String theory may or may not pan out but she knows an awful lot of the subject and I respect her greatly. I have read Knocking on Heaven's Door and Dark Matter and The Dinosaurs and found them both relatively easy to understand and informative. I don't mean this review of Warped Passages to diminish my respect for her knowledge of physics.

But the subtitle of the book is Unraveling The Mysteries Of The Universe's Hidden Dimensions and while it does a good job of talking about the hidden dimensions it never gets around to saying where these hidden dimensions are and why no one can find them.

Studying String Theory has to be frustrating. Because it seems to be all theory and no evidence. On page 61 there are 4 full paragraphs. Here is how each start (CAPS are mine):
1 - Other branes MIGHT be parallel to ours and MIGHT house parallel worlds.
2. - In a world in which branes are embedded in a higher-dimensional bulk, there COULD be some particles that explore the higher dimensions and others that stay trapped on Nranes.
3 - New forces confined to distant branes MIGHT exist.
4 - IF there is life on another brane, those beings, imprisoned in an entirely different environment, MOST LIKELY experience entirely different forces that are detected by different senses.

AGHHHHHHHHH!!!! It's all possible and speculative. String theory might or could or if. I could say there are parallel universe's that contain higher developed life forms and can direct actions in our world along the lines of the mythic Norse or Roman gods. And as I write that I should know that there really are people that believe in Norse or Roman gods and scoff at anything Lisa Randall or Brian Greene writes.

Eventually Randall gets to explaining the aspects of string theory and if you make it that far you get the feeling that it's all built on a base of sand. I doubt that there is a way to make ST exciting or interesting to those of us below Randall's IQ level like myself. If Einstein had come out with General Relativity with no way to ever test it he never would have been famous. But people can test his theories and space/time has pretty much stood up to scrutiny.

Unless you want to know more about ST and what makes up the different parts of the theory this book is probably not for you. Since it came out in 2005 there has a lot been done, especially with the LHC up and running, so maybe if she updated it today it could be a better read.
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It has been on my bucket list for quite some time to update my knowledge of physics. I am an electrical engineer, concentrating in semiconductors, so I have at least a "working knowledge" of particle physics and quantum dynamics. I wanted to understand a little more about multidimensional thinking and string theory, which are essential to the most modern physics.

Lisa Randall does a great job of explaining these concepts to the layman. She takes the reader through some marvelous explanations of spaces with more than three dimensions, and gives a great overview of the thinking that lead to string theory. While I do not have the most "conceptual" of minds, I did at least develop an understanding of what she was trying to explain.

While I have a decent background in higher level math, I am not sure if that was an advantage in reading this book or not. I think if I knew a little less math, I would have been more comfortable with her simplifications and handwaving. As it was, I kept getting bogged down in "fighting" with her explanations, trying to square them against the math I do understand. I have the feeling that if my math had stopped at HS calculus/geometry, I would have been much more open to the material.

But the biggest problem I had with the book was probably me. I discovered that in spite of my bucket-list, I was really not all that interested in the topic. I think I am just too old to upset my limited understanding of higher-level physics and starting all over. 6-dimensional spaces just give me a headache, and string theory isn't going to help my golf game as much as I had hoped.

So I would say that this book is as good an effort as you will find for walking you through these concepts, but just be careful what you ask for.
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on December 11, 2014
I have read more than ten books on similar topics over the past ten years and I would rate this book by Prof. Randall the best of all. It seems that she fully understands what a pop-science reader really needs and lacks. Every time when a new idea was introduced, some questions and confusions immediately popped up in my mind. Then, a few paragraphs down there, she could foresee my confusions and explain them in details. Though it is a pop-science book for non-physicists, all concepts discussed are based on the most conscientious derivation of theories at the frontier of modern physics. Moreover, she always repeat talking about something novel and difficult from different angles so that a reader can continue to do revision until the concept is clearly understood. I still have no reservation to highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in the forefront of development of physics though it was written some ten years ago.
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on May 24, 2017
It's some 50 years since my physics degrees, so a lot has happened in the field of elementary particles. I found Warped Passages a very readable review of relevant theoretical developments in string theory, multi-dimensional models, as well as the Standard Model. My only disappointment was that this was written prior to the startup of the LHC at CERN, to which Dr Randall made many references as potentially offering experimental validations. I was left wishing for an updated & revised version of the book.
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on April 8, 2018
The first quarter of the book was mostly a review of physics that I already know, though I did learn that Bohr's model of the atom incorporated an electron with wave properties. I had always thought that Bohr, though his atomic model had quantum levels for the electrons, he still thought of them as particles, and that the wave nature of the electron did not come in until de Broglie's atomic model. I have been teaching this incorrectly for a while now. Much of the last 75% was so abstract that I, at best, I could only understand the gist of it, The subject, however, was nonetheless fascinating. I wish I had the mind capable of understanding mathematics at this level. I suspect that it would be beyond me no matter how hard I tried. At least, I can appreciate it.
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on July 19, 2014
The paper book I rate 5 stars. The Kindle edition I would give at most 3 stars because the diagrams and tables are mostly impossible to read (either when rendered on my Nexus 7 or my Win 7 laptop). They don't scale up when the text is enlarged. I had to resort to buying the paper book to follow the text completely. This makes me question how informative the comments of Kindle-only readers of this book can be.

I have a physics degree and a very strong math background from many years ago, but went in other career directions, so at 70 I am now trying to see what I missed. I realize now that my understanding of relativity was stronger than that of quantum mechanics, and this book did a good job of making intelligible some of the quantum aspects. Lisa Randall's book is at times perhaps a little dumbed down for my tastes, but then again I am not sure who else reads this sort of book other than people like myself. I think this would be a challenging book for somebody with no or limited scientific education, and thus not familiar with some of the basic concepts. I am coming away with a renewed interest in modern physics.

I found the Glossary and Math Notes sections to be very useful. As is always true, references such as these are much easier to consult with a paper book than a Kindle.
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on June 19, 2014
This text presents a lot of advanced topics in particle physics and cosmology in easy to understand text. While it is a little wordy at times, it's rightfully so. The book attempts to describe a lot of abstract topics that would really make more sense as equations.

This book was recommended to me by my undergraduate research adviser at my university. I participate in the ATLAS collaboration at CERN and I've found that this book has helped to enlighten me a lot on the concepts behind what I do. Lisa Randall's theory, which she worked on in collaboration with Raman Sundrum, is currently being tested at the Large Hadron Collider, which ATLAS is a part of. Particle physics is full of surprises to someone diving into it with no prior experience. Sometimes it even seems to throw logic out the window. Of course, this isn't actually the case. What I really mean to say is that in terms of everyday experience, particle physics is very abstract, but it ultimately makes perfect sense if you take the time to understand it. It gives a conceptual introduction of the why, what, how, whens, and wheres of the Standard Model, Supersymmetry, String Theory, and Randall's very own Warped Extra dimensions. I find that it's helpful to read certain excerpts over an over again to get a reasonable grasp of what's being written about. But despite that, it has still proven to be a page turner for me.

The only criticism I have is that I wish there were more diagrams! (or even equations, but since this isn't meant as a technical introduction, I can't really criticize it for that).

Overall, I would give it 4 and a half stars, so I decided to round up instead of truncating my rating.
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on December 13, 2009
If you are interested in what makes the universe tick, this book gives some insights to current ideas on the subject.
The book covers a lot of ground including relativity, quantum mechanics, and basic partical physics, but the main focus is into
M-Theory type multi-dimensional ideas.
But don`t let that put you off. The book is written with the average person in mind. You don`t have to be able to follow higher
math to easily grasp the concepts presented. But it does help if you have at least a basic understanding of partical physics, ect.
Dr. Randall uses many analogies to try to get her points across. In some cases her analogies actually made it somewhat confusing
to me, but that will likely vary from person to person. In those cases I found it easier to skip the analogies. Other people might
find them helpful.
Randall also gives some back ground into how she developed these ideas. That was very helpful in following her line of reason.
I guess what I`m trying to say is that there is nothing here that is beyond the understanding of the average reader.

If you are expecting to learn all the secrets of the universe from this book, forget it. Science is a long way from that. All of this,
super string theory, m-theory, all of it, could turn out to be no more than so much hokum. Or it could be insights into the most
basic workings of reality. Time will tell. For the moment, right or wrong, it`s some of the best anyone has yet been able to
come up with.
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on January 14, 2013
I thought Randall's discussion of the need for a new theory merging the Standard Model and gravity was very lucid. Her repeated emphasis that theories are only good if they agree with experiments was a breath of fresh air. Most books that discuss strings and higher dimensions are so swept up with the theories that they mostly ignore this critical fact and barely cover the motivation or need for the theories in the first place. Although Randall spends a little too much time on her models and less on the theories of others, she presents a large amount of information in a very understandable way that doesn't feel "dumbed down". I slipped most of her little stories, but I guess they may help some folks grasp the concepts.
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on May 23, 2017
String theory, alternate universes and other unlikely seeming aspects of Physics are explained as clearly as can be done in words. A great read for Science Fiction fans.
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