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Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions

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The universe has many secrets. It may hide additional dimensions of space other than the familier three we recognize. There might even be another universe adjacent to ours, invisible and unattainable . . . for now. Warped Passages is a brilliantly readable and altogether exhilarating journey that tracks the arc of discovery from early twentieth-century physics to the razor' The universe has many secrets. It may hide additional dimensions of space other than the familier three we recognize. There might even be another universe adjacent to ours, invisible and unattainable . . . for now. Warped Passages is a brilliantly readable and altogether exhilarating journey that tracks the arc of discovery from early twentieth-century physics to the razor's edge of modern scientific theory. One of the world's leading theoretical physicists, Lisa Randall provides astonishing scientific possibilities that, until recently, were restricted to the realm of science fiction. Unraveling the twisted threads of the most current debates on relativity, quantum mechanics, and gravity, she explores some of the most fundamental questions posed by Nature—taking us into the warped, hidden dimensions underpinning the universe we live in, demystifying the science of the myriad worlds that may exist just beyond our own.


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The universe has many secrets. It may hide additional dimensions of space other than the familier three we recognize. There might even be another universe adjacent to ours, invisible and unattainable . . . for now. Warped Passages is a brilliantly readable and altogether exhilarating journey that tracks the arc of discovery from early twentieth-century physics to the razor' The universe has many secrets. It may hide additional dimensions of space other than the familier three we recognize. There might even be another universe adjacent to ours, invisible and unattainable . . . for now. Warped Passages is a brilliantly readable and altogether exhilarating journey that tracks the arc of discovery from early twentieth-century physics to the razor's edge of modern scientific theory. One of the world's leading theoretical physicists, Lisa Randall provides astonishing scientific possibilities that, until recently, were restricted to the realm of science fiction. Unraveling the twisted threads of the most current debates on relativity, quantum mechanics, and gravity, she explores some of the most fundamental questions posed by Nature—taking us into the warped, hidden dimensions underpinning the universe we live in, demystifying the science of the myriad worlds that may exist just beyond our own.

30 review for Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions

  1. 4 out of 5

    picoas picoas

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. SR: "Warped Passages - Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions" by Lisa Randall (original review, 2006) Hi,I am poor English Portuguese who live in very countly side. We need a Portuguese translate better and I have a Questions. The some day I had did so tough-Job.After that small-black-holl shown up and it had moved and mice and soft membrance? Not a elephant,mice or small birds,didn’t swallow house and many zone and a If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. SR: "Warped Passages - Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions" by Lisa Randall (original review, 2006) Hi,I am poor English Portuguese who live in very countly side. We need a Portuguese translate better and I have a Questions. The some day I had did so tough-Job.After that small-black-holl shown up and it had moved and mice and soft membrance? Not a elephant,mice or small birds,didn’t swallow house and many zone and areas.Even wall was tightly-closed-container,importat part is why mice had not smashed.And univers looks like alive and mother earth conected each of us. Did she report you watched from the sky on360℃degree. Randall knew it.establish a book in reality what has happen there was no trick.Did she? i m new to this so i dont understand all the subtleties but i have read the feynman lectures and cant find any mistakes in them i would be helpful if u could point them out and in light of this book i think x prime can be any constant not only zero but but this explaining is definitely wrong as once he is equating x prime to zero and another time Randall is equating it to the disatance travelled by light in its time. mathematical nonsense - but it is TRUE !....0 to the power 0 equals 1.....ie ....0 ^ 0 = 1.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    I reviewed this once before and a tecnical snafu ate it when I tried to up load it... This book is dreadful: here are the many reasons why: The material is disorganised. The book is ostensibly about extra spatial dimensions. The concepts are introduced in the first few chapters then don't re-appear until the last few chapters. The Standard Model is introduced twice. The explanations are poor and sometimes wrong. The section on the Pauli Principle is riddled with errors and omissions that should emb I reviewed this once before and a tecnical snafu ate it when I tried to up load it... This book is dreadful: here are the many reasons why: The material is disorganised. The book is ostensibly about extra spatial dimensions. The concepts are introduced in the first few chapters then don't re-appear until the last few chapters. The Standard Model is introduced twice. The explanations are poor and sometimes wrong. The section on the Pauli Principle is riddled with errors and omissions that should embarress a good A-level chemistry student. The section on CP symmetry and CPT symmetry is so bad that I did not recognise these concepts for what they were until several chapters later. These concepts are not actually difficult to explain, even if it is hard to see why they should be true: In CP symmetry, all matter is swapped for it's antimatter equivalent and the directions left and right are reversed. When this is done, no difference can be detected between before and after the swap. This symmetry is known to work for all physical processes except those involving the weak nuclear force. In CPT symmetry, as well as swapping matter for antimatter and left for right, the direction of time is reversed. This symmetry was believed to hold for all circumstances - it could have happened five times since you started reading this review and you would never be able to tell the difference! However, very recent results have suggested that neutrinos and antinuetrinos may have different masses which would mean that CPT symmetry does not apply to them. This isn't a well established result yet, though. So, really, how hard was that to explain? Randall also offers the worst introduction to the fundamental mysteries of quantum mechanics I've ever read (and I've read quite a number). Randall can't write: Additionally to giving bad explanations, Randall also gives us a very bad story at the beginning of each chapter. These stories have no literary merit and do not make understanding the forthcoming material any easier. They are like the dialogues from Godel, Escher, Bach by Hofstadter with all wit, literary merit and purpose removed, except they aren't dialogues, either. Pop song wisdom: Each chapter begins with a quote from a pop song. These are not profound or witty. Many, many years ago I developed the principle, "Do not get your life wisdom from pop songs." One could also say, "Do not quote pop songs at the heads of chapters unless you want to look as if you've never read a book in your life." Repetition: Using the same unclear explanation over and over again does not make a topic easier to understand. Since it was very difficult to understand Randall's explanations of concepts I am already familiar with repeating them isn't helpful. Bloat: The new "physics" Randall wants to explain comes in the final two chapters of a long book which is full of digressions that are irrelevant to the main thrust. Weirdly the author includes every theoretical development of the last 20 years except the only one that has a firm experimental basis (i.e. neutrino oscillation, which I'm not going to explain here). Weirdly, this would have been useful, unlike the ones she does include, because the issue of "flavour mixing" comes up at one point. Again it took me some time to realise that this "flavour mixing" was something I knew about - neutrino oscillation! Is there anything good about this book? Well, there's an explanation of why one theory of relativity is Special and the other is General that you won't find in many other places. Is that compensation for nearly 500p of tedious, repetitive and extremely speculative barely comprehensible explanations? Stick to the maths, Lisa; you're good at maths.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    I was excited to buy this book, and looked forward to learning something useful about new science. But I thought it was horrible. The explanations are unreadable. The preface was even less comprehensible. BTW, I have an engineering degree and was the CEO of a scientific research institute for 14 years. I think I am capable of reading a lay book about science. I got nothing from this one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    this rating is much more a reflection on me than randall's writing. she wrote about complex theories in quantum physics and string theory in probably the most accessible manner possible. but my brain isnt great at grasping such notions so that is on me. Randall starts each chapter with a parable fairy story to illustrate the ideas discussed in that chapter and finishes with a bulleted synopsis of what she wrote. all in all this is a physics book for non physicists. this rating is much more a reflection on me than randall's writing. she wrote about complex theories in quantum physics and string theory in probably the most accessible manner possible. but my brain isnt great at grasping such notions so that is on me. Randall starts each chapter with a parable fairy story to illustrate the ideas discussed in that chapter and finishes with a bulleted synopsis of what she wrote. all in all this is a physics book for non physicists.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Koen Crolla

    People make too much of condescension in science writers; I've seen several reviews now praise Randall for not being condescending or patronising, possibly because Randall herself mentions that she wrote the book because so many others struck her as being patronising or condescending and professional reviewers are usually journalists and journalists are lazy hacks. In actual fact, any work of popular science, particularly in the field of physics, is going to be condescending in places by necessit People make too much of condescension in science writers; I've seen several reviews now praise Randall for not being condescending or patronising, possibly because Randall herself mentions that she wrote the book because so many others struck her as being patronising or condescending and professional reviewers are usually journalists and journalists are lazy hacks. In actual fact, any work of popular science, particularly in the field of physics, is going to be condescending in places by necessity; the state of modern physics is so far removed from the physics education the modal layperson will have received (my own high school physics education got to Newton and stopped, and because that requires basic calculus I'm told that's more than most people get) that any book written for the general public has to start pretty much from zero or risk losing its readers at least some of the time. And because people who tend to read pop sci will tend to be at least sort of familiar with at least some of the ground covered already, this means at least parts of any decent book will seem unbearably patronising to them. Unlike with high-schoolers or undergrads, you can't make very many assumptions about the background and knowledge of your target audience when you're writing for the general public. And Randall is more patronising than most, to be honest, because she makes an earnest effort to cover more ground than I've seen anyone else attempt, and she insists on repeating herself to an absurd degree. And that's good — in fact, I'd go so far as to say that Warped Passages is the first (modern) pop physics I've read that hasn't left me feeling like the field is now just too esoteric to be viable subject matter for pop sci. (The only thing that bothers me is her irrelevant anecdotes about rock climbing and mountain biking and things, which I'm sure is exactly the sort of thing that appeals to aforementioned professional reviewers. I'm so fucking sick of the rock star physicist image; that is condescending in an undesirable way.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    Lisa Randall is one of my favorite scientists. Her research is amazing. I highly recommend this book as well as watching her lectures online. The lectures (some 5 hours in length) help solidify the information in this book. I can't wait to see where this research leads. I have always been excited to learn about dimensions. I hope I live long enough to see the how the work of Randall and others affects our understanding or branes and the forces attached to them. Lisa Randall is one of my favorite scientists. Her research is amazing. I highly recommend this book as well as watching her lectures online. The lectures (some 5 hours in length) help solidify the information in this book. I can't wait to see where this research leads. I have always been excited to learn about dimensions. I hope I live long enough to see the how the work of Randall and others affects our understanding or branes and the forces attached to them.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A few weeks ago I came across an interesting blurb about Ms. Randall's latest book. Since I was unfamiliar with her or any prior books (one was mentioned in the write up), I did some cursory digging and found that she had written her first book in the mid-2000s. Because I wanted to be "fair" before reading the just-published book, I felt obligated to read the earlier one. Now that was a gigantic mistake! (Not the reading, just the "obligated" part.) "Warped Passages" is a superbly written book by A few weeks ago I came across an interesting blurb about Ms. Randall's latest book. Since I was unfamiliar with her or any prior books (one was mentioned in the write up), I did some cursory digging and found that she had written her first book in the mid-2000s. Because I wanted to be "fair" before reading the just-published book, I felt obligated to read the earlier one. Now that was a gigantic mistake! (Not the reading, just the "obligated" part.) "Warped Passages" is a superbly written book by a leading physicist for non-physicists. The topic is (mostly) contemporary particle physics but to add the necessary depth and perspective she covers the late 19th century development of the original "atomic" models as well as classic physics topics such as: Newton's Laws of Motion, Newton's Law of Gravitation, Electromagnetic Theory, and Maxwell's Equations. From there the book continues with the 20th century revolutions that re-wrote all of the rules: Special Relativity, General Relativity, Quantum Theory (aka Quantum Mechanics) and the Uncertainty Principle. Along with these "basics", the discovery of the essential building blocks of the universe are covered. First the "basic" items: electrons, photons, protons, neutrons are discussed, then the "sub-particles" which were found as "atom-smashers" gained power and sensitivity: the weak gauge bosons, the quarks, the neutrino. All-in-all a fairly standard progression from the early days of particle physics right up to the present day (when the Tevatron was finally decommissioned, since the LHC is now really up & running). And of course we haven't touched on the last 30-40 years of models and theories, yet. (But the book does.) So, why am I so positive about this book? I think that Ms. Randall has written some of the best summaries and explanations of the core elements of particle physics for the past half-century. Her coverage of the Standard Model, Symmetry, Supersymmetry, Strings, Branes and dimensionality are probably the best that I have ever read for non-physicists. Not only are the presentations clear and meaningful, but she allows readers to pass over sections that contain important information which does not directly impact the main direction of the book (which is using extra dimensions and branes). I did read all of the sections. I also read all of the 40-odd math notes, which is where she placed anything that might have derailed someone who only cared about the "gist" of the topic. Overall, I think the author and editor(s) did a great job in organizing the material for a readership of many interest levels. You can stop reading here and take away my recommendation that you read this excellent book on how the universe may work. Or, you can read the next section where I give a few more details while trying to solve a small conundrum. But, read this book no matter which you decide. Although I have not read any other reviews, I did notice that "Warped Passages" has an overall ranking that is lower than I expected. Granted it is written for those that may be more curious than the average bear, but initially I couldn't reconcile the excellent writing with this overall "judgement". I'm still not certain, but I have a few guesses. First, the author writes in her own "voice" rather than a dispassionate, omnipotent, narrator. She is a physicist and one whose work centers on the current material of this book. As such she describes many first-hand events and impressions; perhaps these are beyond the expectations of some readers. Secondly, and in a similar vein, she created little "stories" to illustrate the concepts that are presented in each chapter. For the most part the stories are "standalones" (although they use a recurring cast of characters), but in some of the later chapters she deliberately refers back or explains what point or concept the story was designed to explain. Personally, I found these passages redundant, but the author & publisher may have thought that some readers would not be able to connect the dots in these little "asides". Other readers may have felt this was annoying or offensive. Thirdly, the author writes in more topical references than another author might, or another reader might prefer. Again, for myself these were neither offensive nor irritating, but not everyone may be as amused as I was by a few little left-leaning comments. Lastly, and I really, really hope that this isn't the reason for any of the low rankings, she details some of the historically unequal treatment of men and women in physics. In the handful of places where she writes about this we see how a specific woman's contribution to a discovery or theory may not be attributed, recognized or rewarded. Does this matter? I think it does. Many people know of "Madame Curie"; some may know of the woman whose X-ray crystallography made it possible for Watson & Crick to decide on a double-helix structure for DNA, and a few may know about Einstein's first wife and collaborator, but these are only placeholders for the many other women that have been doing "real science" throughout history. To put it in perspective, the author is a notable, practicing physicist and this is her book. I think it's perfectly reasonable that she give an example or two of women who made significant, prior contributions to the advancement of physics and were not given the same recognition as men working on the same problems. So, if the misogynists didn't like these comments, tough bunnies!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    If you love particle physics you'll probably love this book. The first and last fourths of the book were really interesting and mostly about new theories in particle physics. The middle half of the book slogs through a brief history of particle physics, string theory, and multiple dimensions. She employs a few odd tools. Most chapters begin with an Alice in Wonderland like story that is meant to demonstrate the concept to be discussed. Some readers may find it witty and amusing but I found it dist If you love particle physics you'll probably love this book. The first and last fourths of the book were really interesting and mostly about new theories in particle physics. The middle half of the book slogs through a brief history of particle physics, string theory, and multiple dimensions. She employs a few odd tools. Most chapters begin with an Alice in Wonderland like story that is meant to demonstrate the concept to be discussed. Some readers may find it witty and amusing but I found it distracting. It is set off in italics so readers can skip ahead. There were several helpful tools though; one is a bullet list of summary points at the end of most chapters so if you wanted to skip ahead you could review the bullets and move on. Also included is a glossary of terms that I found helpful. Since I read this on a train in twenty minute intervals, I would find myself reading a passage knowing that she had explained a term two chapters ago but couldn't remember how it was relevant to the current chapter and all I had to do was refer to the glossary. She also includes endnotes which elaborate further on certain mathematical details for those curious and more familiar with the calculus involved. Overall, I found the book to be a good broad collection of concepts around multiple dimensions, brane theories, and warped geometry as they relate to particle physics. But I found the writing to be a bit stiff and hard to follow at times. If you're looking for a discussion of the implications or real world applications of the theories she does not go into that level of detail. She does however bring up a good point: based on the models being built, we must not have a clear definition of what a dimension is.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rama

    Is gravity weaker than other three forces? A solution to the hierarchy problem in physics Gravity is the weakest forces of all the four forces of our universe, because, according to the author, it is concentrated in another spatial dimension of the universe, and these extra dimensions could be infinitely large. The summary of this book is as follows: We live in a three-dimensional pocket of higher dimensional space, also called branes. It is like a bead on a wire that can only move along one dime Is gravity weaker than other three forces? A solution to the hierarchy problem in physics Gravity is the weakest forces of all the four forces of our universe, because, according to the author, it is concentrated in another spatial dimension of the universe, and these extra dimensions could be infinitely large. The summary of this book is as follows: We live in a three-dimensional pocket of higher dimensional space, also called branes. It is like a bead on a wire that can only move along one dimension, a brane may restrict our motion to three dimensions although other dimensions exist around it. The theory of supersymmetry also explains the hierarchy problem by postulating that every fundamental particle has a heavier partner, but the theory currently predicts particle interactions that don't occur in nature. The author predicts that if extra dimensions exist, particles could be separated to prevent unwanted interactions, and that gravity could be concentrated somewhere in an extra dimension. The force's strength becomes exponentially weaker further from the gravity brane. The model consists of a pair of universes, four-dimensional branes (three space and one time), thinly separated by a five-dimensional space called the bulk. The mathematical solutions for this setup suggested that the space between the branes is warped, and objects could grow larger or smaller (less massive or more massive) as they moved back and forth between two branes, a direct result of higher gravitational force. The fifth dimension could be so warped that the number of dimensions you see would depend on where you are in the bulk. In addition, gravity is as strong as the other forces, because it is much stronger on one brane than the other. Therefore our universe is located on a brane where only weak gravitational force is felt. This idea of the author is not new since string theorists, Arkani-Hamed, Divali and Dimopoulos (group A.D.D.) suggested that if one or two of the curled-up extra dimensions of string theory had sizes as big as a tenth of millimeter, then gravity would be similarly diluted and weakened thus explaining the hierarchy problem. There is increasing perception among some leading physicists like Ed Witten that space and time could be illusions, or it is perhaps made of simpler yet undiscovered physical parameters. We are still long way to clearly understand the concept of space and time, but the author's theory may be a step in the direction of advancement. However, one of the major problems of this theory is that it is all talk (theoretical) but no substance (no experimental evidence). We have to wait a little longer after the LHC data is completely analyzed and understood. The book is very well written and easy to understand; the author has explained the relevant physical concepts in a simple and lucid manner; highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jim Good

    Most of the book is a set up for the last couple chapters, by giving a history and accounting of the Standard Model of Quantum Mechanics and some baseline information on string theory. The last couple chapters deal with theories of extra dimensions and how they might be perceived and detected. Most extra dimensional theories have finite or small scaled that wrap back on themselves. She puts forth a theory of potentially infinite but warped extra dimensions and how those would manifest. Also much Most of the book is a set up for the last couple chapters, by giving a history and accounting of the Standard Model of Quantum Mechanics and some baseline information on string theory. The last couple chapters deal with theories of extra dimensions and how they might be perceived and detected. Most extra dimensional theories have finite or small scaled that wrap back on themselves. She puts forth a theory of potentially infinite but warped extra dimensions and how those would manifest. Also much discussion of branes which can trap particles to make them appear as less dimensions than there really are.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cyndie Courtney

    I won't begin to pretend that I completely wrapped my mind around everything in this book. It definitely peaked by curiosity and I am intrigued to learn more, but this is no "particle physics for dummies". Some fascinating concepts contained within. Definitely helped open my eyes to some of the crazier aspects of our world. I won't begin to pretend that I completely wrapped my mind around everything in this book. It definitely peaked by curiosity and I am intrigued to learn more, but this is no "particle physics for dummies". Some fascinating concepts contained within. Definitely helped open my eyes to some of the crazier aspects of our world.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Richard Seltzer

    On the plus side, this book will expand your understanding of the concept of "dimension". It also has clear explanations of developments in physics in the days of Einstein and the early stages quantum theory. Above all it gives you a sense of physics as a living, growing, very human endeavor -- a constant challenge, a source of one fascinating puzzle after another, requiring creativity and ingenuity to simply imagine all that might be possible. Half the book deals with theories that have not yet On the plus side, this book will expand your understanding of the concept of "dimension". It also has clear explanations of developments in physics in the days of Einstein and the early stages quantum theory. Above all it gives you a sense of physics as a living, growing, very human endeavor -- a constant challenge, a source of one fascinating puzzle after another, requiring creativity and ingenuity to simply imagine all that might be possible. Half the book deals with theories that have not yet been proved -- fascinating ideas that might turn out to reflect the "real world" but that regardless of that have a puzzle and artistic appeal. The author is not a reporter or science popularizer, but rather one of the leading theorists. If what she presents is an accurate account of recent developments (and I have no reason to doubt that it is), she deserves a Nobel Prize. Unfortunately, while she seems to try hard to make her book readable and to make the concepts accessible to the non-professional, the narrative becomes increasingly difficult to follow. A typical passage from the second half of the book: "This meant, paradoxically, that you could use perturbation theory to study the original strongly interacting, ten-dimensional superstring theory. You would not use perturbation theory in the strongly interacting string theory itself, but in a superficailly entirely different theory: weakly itneracting, eleven-dimensional supergravity. This remarkable result, which Paul Townsend of Cambridge University had perviously also observed, meant that despite their different packaging, at low engergies, ten-dimensional superstring theory and eleven-dimensional supergravity were in fact the same theory. Or, as physicists would say, they were dual." What????? It's like trying to read a book in a language you don't know. Somehow I managed to look at all the words, but I don't feel that I really "read" the book. And I could probably look at all those words several more times without understanding any more of it. So I come away impressed at the author's knowledge and accomplishments and creative enthusiasm, but totally frustrated. I simply have no idea what she is talking about. If only I could find a book that unravels the mysteries of this book...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ollie

    I really had my hopes up for Warped Passages after reading Brian Greene’s Hidden Reality. Not because I enjoyed that book so much, but because it so thoroughly confused and frustrated me that I just assumed another book would do a better job of explaining the wonderful world of hidden dimensions. Unfortunately, Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages is no better. Just like Hidden Reality, Warped Passages starts out well enough by explaining some basics about quantum physics but then very quickly snowball I really had my hopes up for Warped Passages after reading Brian Greene’s Hidden Reality. Not because I enjoyed that book so much, but because it so thoroughly confused and frustrated me that I just assumed another book would do a better job of explaining the wonderful world of hidden dimensions. Unfortunately, Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages is no better. Just like Hidden Reality, Warped Passages starts out well enough by explaining some basics about quantum physics but then very quickly snowballs into a mess of jargon and gobbledygook. And Randall tries, she really does, by making the subject a little bit more lighthearted, peppering her chapters with stories, examples, an idiotic non-fiction story involving Athena and Ike (who cares?), and trying show off her music taste by quoting “relatable” lyrics at the beginning of each chapter (she has terrible taste in music, guys), but it all just ends up being frustrating. It just seems ridiculous to use the media of 2-D words on paper (with the occasional drawing) to explain something as complex. An episode of PBS’s NOVA or even comic strips (like Ph.D. Comics) do a better job with much less effort. Warped Passages might be more easy to understand if someone were using this book as a way to study the subject (and reading the chapters over and over again) or if we could actually see the math (instead of just asking us to imagine certain ideas or to trust Randall on a concept over and over and over again), but for the general audience, this is just a very frustrating book. I could not wait for it to end. At the end when Randall is talking about her contributions to the field, she says “It took a while before physicists understood and believed us.” Well then, what chance do the rest of us have?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karl Nehring

    Through the early pages of the book, Dr. Randall's writing style drove me nearly crazy, but as I continued to read, either she started to get her bearings or else I got more used to it. In any event, I found this a fascinating book. Technically it is very challenging -- I am not going to pretend that I truly grasped most of what she was writing about; however, I was able, at least at some level, to follow the story she was telling, and that was a welcome sort of challenge. I enjoyed this book en Through the early pages of the book, Dr. Randall's writing style drove me nearly crazy, but as I continued to read, either she started to get her bearings or else I got more used to it. In any event, I found this a fascinating book. Technically it is very challenging -- I am not going to pretend that I truly grasped most of what she was writing about; however, I was able, at least at some level, to follow the story she was telling, and that was a welcome sort of challenge. I enjoyed this book enough to have recently ordered "Knocking on Heaven's Door," her newest tome.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brandy Cross

    Warped Passageways is a bit of an oddity. On the one hand it’s comprised of fairly in-depth science, on the other hand it’s poorly written and the work could have greatly benefited from simply removing many of her explanations. In addition, the book additionally suffers from the inclusion of very poor attempts at analogous storytelling at the front of every chapter, where a fictional setting is loosely linked to the premise being explained in the chapter, and sometimes very sloppily giving the r Warped Passageways is a bit of an oddity. On the one hand it’s comprised of fairly in-depth science, on the other hand it’s poorly written and the work could have greatly benefited from simply removing many of her explanations. In addition, the book additionally suffers from the inclusion of very poor attempts at analogous storytelling at the front of every chapter, where a fictional setting is loosely linked to the premise being explained in the chapter, and sometimes very sloppily giving the reader the wrong impression. At the same time, it’s an incredibly accessible introduction to a lot of concepts in current theoretical physics, with relatively dumbed down explanations for basic and not-so-basic concepts. If you can follow Randall’s fairly iffy explanations, it’s a great primer from an insider perspective. I personally found some of the fallacies in the examples to be annoying beyond the point of redemption (e.g., use a shower curtain with water droplets sliding down it as an example of a possible 1-axis dimension). If you skip those or figure out how to ignore them, the book becomes much better. Overall, this is cute.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    The Standard Model of particle physics is the most successful scientific theory ever produced. It's capable of making predictions that turn out to be incredibly accurate, down to many decimal places. It's produced surprising predictions that turn out to be true. The discovery of the Higgs boson a few years ago cemented in the capstone of its success. But it also has a massive, gaping hole in the middle of it, a flaw that has consumed the efforts of several generations of physicists and continues The Standard Model of particle physics is the most successful scientific theory ever produced. It's capable of making predictions that turn out to be incredibly accurate, down to many decimal places. It's produced surprising predictions that turn out to be true. The discovery of the Higgs boson a few years ago cemented in the capstone of its success. But it also has a massive, gaping hole in the middle of it, a flaw that has consumed the efforts of several generations of physicists and continues to represent an impenetrable mystery. Where is gravity? Why is gravity? This book is ten years old now, but still presents an absorbing account of the efforts being made to unravel this mystery in a readable and approachable manner and is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to find out about string theory, supersymmetry and extra dimensions. This is a cluster of theories that can interact in surprising ways, but Randall manages to plot a course through the thicket that makes a degree of sense. As with all popular science books it's hobbled by the requirement to translate purely mathematical concepts into semi-intuitive ideas. This will always present problems, as an intuitive understanding is inherently flawed--if you really want to grasp the nature of these theories you need to do the maths (I'd recommend Leonard Susskind's The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics and its companion on Quantum Mechanics). There are a few problems with the book that might have been improved. As others have noted, she opens with several chapters concerning higher dimensions and how they could fit into what appears to be a strictly three dimensional world, but then veers off into presenting relativity, uncertainty and the Standard Model, only returning to the subject of dimensionality 10 chapters later. Unfortunately there's no way of discussing these subjects properly without shoehorning in all the undergraduate spadework that needs to be covered for anything else to make sense. The book would probably have flowed a bit more elegantly if the introduction to dimensionality were moved later in the work. But since the book is fundamentally about the physics of extra dimensions I can understand the motivation to dive in from the start. Written in 2005, this book presents an excellent overview of the previous couple of decades of work into Physics Beyond the Standard Model. What it really needs is a second edition, perhaps in a couple of years when we have results from the LHC at 13TeV. In many places through the book she talks about the predictions being made and looks forward to the LHC results. It's no secret that many of these predictions have fallen flat. Some variants, like Minimal Supersymmetry, are already dead in the water, with no evidence of the relatively light superpartners they predict. Most of the others are looking very troubled. Where do we go from here? It's not enough to carp from the sidelines, like Smolin, and complain that these theories are all bunk. We need answers and a way to plug up the yawning void sitting at the heart of the Standard Model. The road that science takes is littered with the husks of thousands of dead theories--once-promising ideas that had to be cast aside for better alternatives. There's no doubt that many of the theories presented in Randall's book will join their number. But if ideas are a vector we need to know where it's starting from, and Prof. Randall presents an excellent overview of the state of play in PBSM in the early years of this century.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Randall focuses on the hierarchy problem and the speculative theories that try to solve it, including string theory, branes, extra dimensions.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Luz

    Sort of hard to follow, and confusing. However, I read it as a highschool AP chemistry student and it very well explained quantum mechanics and various other physics theories in a sort of simplistic way. Unsure if I'd recommend but I would definitely reread it to see if my understanding changes. Sort of hard to follow, and confusing. However, I read it as a highschool AP chemistry student and it very well explained quantum mechanics and various other physics theories in a sort of simplistic way. Unsure if I'd recommend but I would definitely reread it to see if my understanding changes.

  19. 5 out of 5

    B. Factor

    Chock full of misleading analogies, painful allegories, and irrelevant material cut-and-pasted from other failed writing projects.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    As is the case with most books on more or less contemporary theoretical physics, this one gives me the impression that I understand it … until I turn a page. Then, all too yearling, the moonbeams saturate field mice with gas masks and did you ever blibbit? Rikkul fiorg, either! Soon enough, die Korridore de mon esprit становиться カオスTaka 土地 of cose welke 似乎是正确的 but may merely bele des faux friends. I wish I had made a count of the number of times “IF” is used in this book. While reading, I found As is the case with most books on more or less contemporary theoretical physics, this one gives me the impression that I understand it … until I turn a page. Then, all too yearling, the moonbeams saturate field mice with gas masks and did you ever blibbit? Rikkul fiorg, either! Soon enough, die Korridore de mon esprit становиться カオスTaka 土地 of cose welke 似乎是正确的 but may merely bele des faux friends. I wish I had made a count of the number of times “IF” is used in this book. While reading, I found my old Senior High Physics text (1974). Might have been a different subject. I didn’t understand that one either! Worth the effort for the mental pushups, but I would never claim to have understood it :-)

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

    Best description of alternate physics dimensions.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris Lynch

    "Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions." (O.W. Holmes, Sr. 1858) Holmes would, I think, have agreed that this book is a provider of such mind-stretching ideas. Here you'll find an excellent discussion of some of the more radical new ideas from the model-building camp of theoretical physics. Taking ideas of higher dimensions and branes borrowed from string theory, Prof. Randall and co-researchers have produced inter "Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions." (O.W. Holmes, Sr. 1858) Holmes would, I think, have agreed that this book is a provider of such mind-stretching ideas. Here you'll find an excellent discussion of some of the more radical new ideas from the model-building camp of theoretical physics. Taking ideas of higher dimensions and branes borrowed from string theory, Prof. Randall and co-researchers have produced interesting models of physics in which the extra dimensions of string theory are shown to not all necessarily be miniscule curled-up planck-scale regions beyond experimental probing. She demonstrates possibilities for larger additional dimensions the existence of which might be experimentally verified when the Large Hadron Collider swings into action, and alternative possibilities to supersymmetry for unification of the forces of nature. Don't be fooled by the journo's reassuring commentary on the cover. No journalist wants to admit that they can't make head nor tail of a 'pop' science book. Though Randall steers clear of mathematics there are many abstract concepts in this book that are not at all easy to grasp, especially the idea of non-spatial symmetries and symmetry breaking. 'Remarkably clear' is a very relative term here - in that, given the inherent difficulty in explaining these subjects to the uninitiated, yes, she's done a great job; but that doesn't mean it's easy-going or accessible. There's not very much cosmology in this book. It mainly concentrates on spatial geometry, particle physics, quantum field theory and the (possible) relationships between them. Of course the obligatory explanations of relativity, quantum mechanics and the standard model of fundamental particles and forces, all de rigueur for any pop science tract, comprise the first half of the book. Prof. Randall has actually made a very brave move in publishing this work, because her conjectures might be disproved or at least thrown into doubt by the results of LHC experiments (whereas string theory as a general concept will neither be proved nor disproved because the LHC doesn't probe anywhere near the energy scales needed to do so). More power to her elbow for doing so.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Yevgeniy Brikman

    This book is an overview of modern particle physics (as of 2005) and a surprisingly deep look at how the universe works at the sub-atomic level. There are no equations or calculations, but you get far more technical detail here than a typical pop science book. While some parts are hard to follow, other parts are astonishingly well written, explaining incredibly complicated physical concepts through wonderful analogies. It's not easy reading, but it's worth the effort, as this book helps you real This book is an overview of modern particle physics (as of 2005) and a surprisingly deep look at how the universe works at the sub-atomic level. There are no equations or calculations, but you get far more technical detail here than a typical pop science book. While some parts are hard to follow, other parts are astonishingly well written, explaining incredibly complicated physical concepts through wonderful analogies. It's not easy reading, but it's worth the effort, as this book helps you realize that the real world is far weird than anything you'll find in fantasy books. Some of the interesting ideas I got from this book: * One mystery in particle physics is that the force gravity is much, much weaker than all other known forces. There's a great example of this in the book: a tiny magnet can lift up a paper clip, showing that the magnetic forces from a few grams of metal can overcome the force of gravity generated by an entire planet. No one nows why this is. * The fact that gravity is so different than other forces makes it tough to come up with a "theory of everything" (ToE). The goal of such a theory is to come up with a set of equations that could predict the outcome of any experiment. I had heard ToE before, but never in such terms—what an audacious goal! For some reason, I can only imagine the search for a ToE to end in failure due to a result similar to Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. Perhaps the universe, by its very nature, cannot be completely predictable. * One possibility for why gravity is different has to do with extra dimensions. It turns out that no known law of physics limits us to the 3 dimensions we experience (or 4 dimensions if you count time). There may well be more. Gravity might be using most of its energy in those other dimensions and we are only experiencing the weak amount of energy that exists in our dimensions. * The idea of extra dimensions is hard to think about and there are no easy ways to visualize it. This book does a great job of using analogies, such as explaining concepts in 2d and 3d worlds we can reason about and explaining that the same reasoning would apply to higher dimensional worlds too (I loved the analogy of a bug crawling along 2 dimensional plane curled up into a hose). There's also the interesting concept that the number of "dimensions" is really just the number of quantities you need to specify to uniquely locate something. E.g., in 3 dimensions, those are x, y, and z coordinates. In 4 dimensions, we might add a time coordinate. In higher dimensions, we're just adding more coordinates; you might not be able to picture it, but you can still reason about it. * It's possible for extra dimensions to exist without them being detectable. The extra dimensions could be exceptionally tiny (plank length), or, if the universe is warped in a certain way, the extra dimensions may be infinite in size, but still not detectable. * The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which you probably learned in high school physics, states that there is a limit to the precision with which you can know certain pairs of physical properties. For example, you can never precisely know both the position and momentum of a given particle at any given moment. This book has a lovely analogy to explain why. Imagine you have a dripping sink in your kitchen and you want to know how often it drips. You get out a stop watch, count for 10 seconds, and calculate 10 drops. So that's 1 drop per second, right? Well, the issue is that your stop watch and your ability to use it isn't perfect; the precision is probably only about ~1 second, so it's possible you're off by about 1 drip, and the rate is actually 11 drips per 10 seconds, which is an error of 10%! One solution is to measure for a longer time period, such as 100 seconds. If you do that and count 100 drops, now you know the answer is either 100 or 101 drops in 100 seconds, which is at most a 1% error. If you measure even longer, you can get the error lower, but you'd have to measure for an infinite amount of time to get the error to 0. * Measuring ever smaller distances requires ever more energy, as you need higher frequency waves to investigate smaller distances (otherwise, the distance is smaller than the wave itself), and creating higher frequency waves requires more energy. If you wanted to measure something at the plank scale, you'd need a massive amount of energy—so much, in fact, that long before you got there, this energy would collapse into a black hole, and then the very information you were looking for would be trapped behind the black hole's event horizon, preventing you from ever seeing it. * We actually expected the Large Hadron Collider to create tiny black holes! Apparently, this was no big deal, as all black holes evaporate over time (turning into Hawking radiation), and these tiny ones would evaporate almost instantly. * A "brane" is a bit like a boundary for the universe or a dimension. It's like the crust on bread. Branes are always lower dimensions than whatever they surround (e.g., 2d crust on 3d bread). It is possible that we live on one of these branes—for example, a 3d brane in a universe that has 4 dimensions (or more). Any particles in a brane can never get out of the brane—all physical interactions remain within the brane. So even though our universe might be 4+ dimensions, all our interactions would be have as if there are only 3 dimensions. The one exception to this rule is gravity, which must behave the same way in all dimensions. * One important note is that this book was published before the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) had come online. The LHC has now been running for a few years and scientists have been trying to use the data within it to verify many of the particle physics theories brought up in this book, including the ideas of branes and extra dimensions. So far, there has apparently been zero evidence that any of these theories are right (https://www.quantamagazine.org/what-n...). No new particles have been found; no missing or extra energy; nothing (other than the Higgs Boson, which is actually part of the standard model). Apparently, this is causing a bit of a crisis in the theoretical physics community (https://www.quora.com/I-have-just-rea...). I found many of these concepts to be delightfully mind bending. The world is nothing like what we perceive. Humans used to believe the earth was flat or that the sun revolved around the earth; changing these notions changed everything about the world. I imagine discovering the true nature of matter will change the world profoundly yet again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gavin Smith

    I didn't find this book as irritating as some others around here seem to have found it. I can definitely, however, agree with the most common criticisms. The whole book suffers from a bloat borne of repetition and very odd, distracting analogies. Very, very often the same information is repeated several times, seemingly building to some greater point, only for the chapter to end with a bullet point summary of those same, repeated points. And about those analogies, I cannot recall one of them tha I didn't find this book as irritating as some others around here seem to have found it. I can definitely, however, agree with the most common criticisms. The whole book suffers from a bloat borne of repetition and very odd, distracting analogies. Very, very often the same information is repeated several times, seemingly building to some greater point, only for the chapter to end with a bullet point summary of those same, repeated points. And about those analogies, I cannot recall one of them that actually added any clarity. There were several points during the book that I found myself wondering if I was reading an explanation, a joke, or a pop culture reference. As has been pointed out by several other reviewers, the phrase, "Feel free to skip this part" should never appear so many times in any kind of book. In some ways the book is a victim of timing. As it was published some years before the opening of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, there is a certain sense of wheel spinning as theory waits for experimental verification. Perhaps if Warped Passages had been written ten or so years later there may have been more substance and less need for filler. There are some positives, though. I definitely learned some things about theoretical physics. I found Randall's review of scientific progress and theory quite succinct and clear when free of those largely unnecessary analogies. I suppose Warped Passages could possibly make a reasonable jumping on point if you were inclined to really start reading about extra dimensions. I confess that I am not.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Dill

    When I saw this book on the shelf of barns and noble, the name Lisa Randall caught my eye. I have read several dozens of books on the topic of theoretical physics in the past few years, however, I have never once found a book on theoretical physics that was written by a woman. Lisa Randall's book Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions is a fantastically clear, yet still quite complex and advanced, explanation of the different dimensions of the universe, and When I saw this book on the shelf of barns and noble, the name Lisa Randall caught my eye. I have read several dozens of books on the topic of theoretical physics in the past few years, however, I have never once found a book on theoretical physics that was written by a woman. Lisa Randall's book Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions is a fantastically clear, yet still quite complex and advanced, explanation of the different dimensions of the universe, and how experiments done by the Large Hadron Collider at cern have helped bring new discoveries on how elementary particles interact and apear in higher and lower dimensions. Personally, I do most of my reading and research on the cosmological macroscopic side of theoretical physics, and although I do have a decent amount of experience in both higher dimensional analysis and elementary particle functions, I would say that this book would be a fantastic read for anyone who has some experience and or interest in the topic of different dimensions (the higher dimensions being ones beyond the 1st 2nd 3rd and 4th [time]) and or particle physics. I was so happy to see a wonderful book written by a woman in a field which has one of the highest rates of gender discrimination in academia. Overall, I was very pleased with Lisa Randall's book Warped Passages.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    It can be difficult to try and explain abstract theoretical physics concepts with just analogies and no equations, but Randall does a reasonably good job of describing the main points of interest and research in her field. Some of the analogies miss the mark and the attempted conference-style humor throughout, including the little fictional narrative sections at the start of each chapter, is a little awkward, but overall I came away having learned something about string theory, extra dimensions, It can be difficult to try and explain abstract theoretical physics concepts with just analogies and no equations, but Randall does a reasonably good job of describing the main points of interest and research in her field. Some of the analogies miss the mark and the attempted conference-style humor throughout, including the little fictional narrative sections at the start of each chapter, is a little awkward, but overall I came away having learned something about string theory, extra dimensions, the hierarchy problem and the ambiguous nature of dimensions themselves. Towards the end of the book, Randall describes her work on two theories, RS1 and RS2. Throughout the middle section of the book, there is a growing emphasis on the urgency of resolving the hierarchy problem, or the question 'why is gravity so weak?' RS1 is presented as a possible solution to that, but then RS2 does not appear to address the question at all, which I found a little odd. Also, the book was written in 2005, and alludes to the 'upcoming' results from the LHC. The LHC has been operational for several years now, so some of the ideas in the book may be obsolete at this stage.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    I thought this book, particularly when compared to, say, Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe, continually fell short of its ambitions. It's prose is only adequate and often misestimates the lay reader's level of understanding. I also found it annoying for its frequent injection of self-promotion. I can well understand that Randall might have much to say about being female and a physicist, but there is a kind of thinly-hidden effort to impress us as a kind of uber-babe, a rock climbing, equation I thought this book, particularly when compared to, say, Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe, continually fell short of its ambitions. It's prose is only adequate and often misestimates the lay reader's level of understanding. I also found it annoying for its frequent injection of self-promotion. I can well understand that Randall might have much to say about being female and a physicist, but there is a kind of thinly-hidden effort to impress us as a kind of uber-babe, a rock climbing, equation slinging woman who has her fair share of beauxs.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gofita

    I know I won't be able to truly understand quantum mechanics and particle physics until I sit down and learn the math somehow...but I thought Lisa Randall did an amazing job trying. I caught glimpses of our invisible world of virtual particles, gluons, squarks, 5th dimensions and branes. My world has been rocked. Nuff said. I know I won't be able to truly understand quantum mechanics and particle physics until I sit down and learn the math somehow...but I thought Lisa Randall did an amazing job trying. I caught glimpses of our invisible world of virtual particles, gluons, squarks, 5th dimensions and branes. My world has been rocked. Nuff said.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

    Randall's writing is difficult to follow, and she uses lackluster devices to create muddled visions of her examples. The theories were interesting, but getting to them was the hardest part. Randall's writing is difficult to follow, and she uses lackluster devices to create muddled visions of her examples. The theories were interesting, but getting to them was the hardest part.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    Lisa Randall is my new hero. A bright, intelligent woman dominating a field mostly populated with men and taking time out to popularize the esoteric musings of theoretical physics for the rest of us.

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