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Beyond Lecture features theoretical physicist, popular author Lisa Randall

January 28, 2013

Lisa Randall, a theoretical physics professor from Harvard University and popular author (“Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminates the Universe”), will present the 2013 Beyond Annual Lecture, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 11, at Neeb Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus.

The event is free and open to the public.

Newsweek magazine called Randall one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation and she was included in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people (2007). She is a highly cited theoretical physicist and leading expert on particle physics and cosmology, and she works to convey the excitement of science in her popular writings, which include “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions.”

Randall’s cutting-edge research focuses on several competing models of a celebrated but highly abstract attempt to unify all of physics, known as string theory, in the effort to explain the fabric of the universe. The theory seeks to build a common scheme to describe all of the basic building blocks of the physical universe, including the fundamental particles and forces of nature. Among other weird constructions, it involves extra dimensions of space.

But Randall is prepared to go beyond the purely scientific aspects of her work, and reflect on the broader societal and philosophical implications of it. Her latest book, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” explores how we decide which scientific questions to study and how we go about answering them. Randall examines the role of risk, creativity, uncertainty, beauty and truth in scientific thinking through provocative conversations with leading figures in a variety of fields, like chef David Chang, forecaster Nate Silver and screenwriter Scott Derrickson, and explains the latest ideas in physics and cosmology.

In her talk, Randall will draw on ideas ranging from the Higgs boson to the enigmatic dark energy that pervades the universe to reflect on the nature of the scientific method, the relation between beauty and truth, and the future of humankind, said Paul Davies, an ASU Regents’ Professor and director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at ASU, which sponsors the lecture.

“This talk will provide a rare glimpse into the mind of one of today’s most creative individuals,” Davies said. “Lisa Randall has a rare gift for explaining highly abstract and technical ideas in easy language for non-scientists, which has placed her in high demand as a lecturer and media personality. Anyone who cares about how the universe is put together and what our place might be in the great cosmic scheme will find her lecture compelling.”

While the event is free and open to the public, seating is on a first-come basis. To RSVP for the event, go to or call 480-965-3240.