BOOK REVIEW | Warped Passages

October 24, 2005

Source: New York Times

warped_passagesIn a new book, Warped Passages, Lisa Randall gives an engaging and remarkably clear account of how the existence of dimensions beyond the familiar three may resolve a host of cosmic quandaries.

Randall argues that without any experimental feedback, string theorists may never reach their goal. She prefers a different strategy, called model building. Rather than seeking to create an all-encompassing theory, she develops models — mini-theories that target specific testable problems and that might then point the way to a more general theory.

For example, what if, they ask, higher dimensions are not small and curled up but large, perhaps infinite in size? Would there be any observable consequences? So they build models of what the universe might look like if it consisted of objects called branes (short for “membranes”).