Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall's latest book is Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe.

From her Q & A with Scott Timberg for Salon:

One of the things I came away from your book with is that scientists, even the most informed and erudite, don’t know the answers to a lot of the most basic questions of the universe…

I think for me the sign of true wisdom is being able to say, “I don’t know” when they don’t know. People who feel they have to say they know everything are typically not as bright. What distinguishes scientists is the ability to make advances in these questions: We don’t know the answer, how are we going to go about figuring it out?

I guess a lot of what you do is necessarily speculative. In some ways these are, at least in part, thought experiments?

Yeah — I don’t like that word. I know the Times review said that. You can call it that, but really, that’s what science is: You make hypotheses and you test them. Sometimes the data tells you the answer. But a lot of the time, with these really difficult experiments, where it’s really hard to observe things, you really need hypotheses, because you just won’t see things unless you’re looking for them. There are all these psychology experiments — the elephant on the basketball court. If you don’t know to look for it, you miss it.

As I tried to make really clear in the book, this theory is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue