• 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
  • Release date: 09-27-11
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 3.6 (154 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

By CHET YARBROUGH on 10-16-14


Lisa Randall believes the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is one of the wonders of the world, competing with the pyramids of Egypt in its colossal achievement. Located near the border of France and Switzerland, it is the largest construction project ever built.

“Knocking on Heaven’s Door” is the story of the Collider’s creation, inner workings, and scientific objectives. It is also a story of America’s loss of leadership in science.

A quibble one may have with Randall’s book is that she digresses into derivative finance to suggest that more scientific analysis would obviate the kind of financial disaster that occurred in 2007. She suggests that proper analysis of real estate derivatives would have stopped the madness. The naiveté of that argument is that there were a few that saw the collapse coming but their scientific analysis only convinced a small number of people. Few financial “geniuses” chose to believe real estate derivatives were a financial instrument of destruction. How different is that from the scientific community’s position on global warming?

Scientific analysis misses part of what makes human’s human; i.e. minds can know something and still act irrationally; not to mention, rationality is often in the mind of the beholder. Randal admits as much in writing about beauty and truth and clearly notes that they are not necessarily equivalent because of human subjectivity. If one can make millions of dollars off a quant’s mistaken calculations, what incentive does that person have to ignore the opportunity?

Randall convinces one of the formidable reality of the LHC and its potential contribution to science. America may have missed a chance to be a leader rather than follower of one of the 21st century’s great contributions to science, the Large Hadron Collider.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

By GothamReader on 08-28-12

Why, oh why, didn't Lisa Randall narrate...

Where does Knocking on Heaven's Door rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The book is amazing, but my review knocks stars down because Lisa Randall really should have read her own book. She is an excellent professor, passionate speaker and delivers excellently in interviews and other media. Since I was also reading it in book form, I can compare and contrast the experience. The subject matter was engaging and very accessible to the layperson. I hoped listening to the audiobook would really enhance my experience of the words (as many books have done in the past when I took them with me for walks/hikes). However, instead of adding to the experience, listening to the audiobook was tough. Ms. MacDuffie could have used her lovely voice to read just about anything and I can't help but feel it would all be the same.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

I don't want to disrespect Carrington MacDuffie, but this subject matter is a little too dry for her soft, almost clinically calm voice. Lisa Randall did a diservice to the layperson by not narrating the book herself, but I guess she's busy finding answers to - you know- the universe.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No way. I needed to break every hour or so to switch it up.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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