• Knocking on Heaven's Door

  • How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World
  • By: Lisa Randall
  • Narrated by: Carrington MacDuffie
  • Length: 14 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 09-27-11
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.7 (157 ratings)

Regular price: $34.99

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Publisher's Summary

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.
©2011 Lisa Randall (P)2011 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

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

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Darwin8u on 04-02-18

The Scale & Beauty of the Universe and Unknown

“Try to remember that artists in these catastrophic times, along with the serious scientists, are the only salvation for us, if there is to be any.”
― William H. Gass

“Science certainly is not the static statement of universal laws we all hear about in elementary school. Nor is it a set of arbitrary rules. Science is an evolving body of knowledge. Many of the ideas we are currently investigating will prove to be wrong or incomplete. Scientific descriptions certainly change as we cross the boundaries that circumscribe what we know and venture into more remote territory where we can glimpse hints of the deeper truths beyond.”
- Lisa Randall, Knocking on Heaven's Door

Loved it. In this book Lisa Randall writes about scale and science, while surveying the state of modern physics just as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was getting warmed up (2011).

Randall is a theoretical physicist working on both particle physics and cosmology. She teaches at Harvard and specializes in supersymmetry, the Standard Model, cosmological inflation, dark matter, etc. She is one of the most cited modern theoretical physicists and is yearly on the short-list for the Nobel Prize in Physics. She is also a bit of a renessainse woman. Beyond her ability to scale from the super small to the super big, she enjoys art, literature, and the outdoors. There are some geniuses who seem to exist comfortably only in the small box they excel in. That is definitely not Lisa Randall. She seems to enjoy those spaces where literature, art, and the sciences overlap.

Lisa's collection of interests (beyond physics) is the prime reasons why she is such a gifted translator of theoretical physics. I'm a pretty smart guy, but would have been even more lost without her sharp metaphors and patient untangling of the bleeding edge of physics. I'm still pretty damn confused, but feel just a bit more confident WHERE I'm confused. I think her gift comes both from her varied interests, her wide friendships, and her basic humanity.

Amazingly, it was during a recent gift from the Universe that I met Lisa. Last year in August (on the 21st) a total eclipse of the sun was going to throw its umbral shadow over my sister-in-law's house in Southern Idaho. My brother Matt and I and his friend from the CIA decided to do a road trip. Soon, it wasn't just us three, but friends of friends, were on our way to Rigby, Idaho. Walter Kirn asked if he could meet us, and soon he asked if his friend from Harvard could come. Lisa showed up with a couple friends (one was an artist from LA, (Landon Ross, whose art is informed and influenced heavily by science) and we climbed up the South Menan Butte (owned by a Mormon Capitalist selling tickets) for a prime viewing spot. There we watched the shadow of the eclipse racing towards us.

Anyway, on this butte in Southern Idaho theoretical physicists, artists, writers, and a motley crue of naturalists, retirees, and Mormons were together humbled by the size of the Universe, the scale of what we know and don't know. We were also thrilled that, with the help of science, we knew where to be and together watched the moon's shadow roll over us. In some ways, it seemed a brief echo of how Lisa must have felt watching the LHC go online. Evidence would either show that the Standard Model worked or didn't work as far as the Higgs Boson particle (often called the "God Particle") was concerned. Shortly after this book was published in hard cover, and right before it came out in paperback, the LHC provided evidence that once again theoretical physicists were correct.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 02-03-13

Love the book, hate the title

If you could sum up Knocking on Heaven's Door in three words, what would they be?

Gives a good tour of current high energy particle physics. It's broken into sections. The first is for those questioning faith and just discovering the wonders of nature and science.
You could easily skip to part two and still love the book. She includes many technical details of the LHC.

What other book might you compare Knocking on Heaven's Door to and why?

The particle at the end of the universe. The reason is that it is the most up to date book regarding information on the HIGGS candidate and subsequent announcement in July of 2012

Any additional comments?

the title sucks and Lisa knows that it does. She even devoted time in the book talking about how calling the Higgs the God particle was a mistake

Highly recommend

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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