ThinkInc: An evening with Dr. Lisa Randall
November 19, 2016
What is science about? What is it meant for? Advancing information? Advancing understanding? A way of thinking? A body of knowledge? How did we end up here? Why are we here? Who is to blame?
Opinions. Truths. Subjective and objective. Facts. Uncertainties. From an incandescent mass we have originated and into a frozen mass we shall return. Is the world we live in a three-dimensional spatial region within a system of “warped” extra dimensions? Would that explain the relative weakness of gravity?
Successful science tells the story of “how” culminating in the “why.” Cue Dr. Lisa Randall. Dr. Lisa Randall works on writing, revising and editing that story. A story in progress. Randall has dedicated her life to finding unexplored corners by probing the abstract, unfazed by uncertainties. A quest fueled by passionate curiosity that propels her down the rabbit hole, off to explore a world of extra dimensions, intriguing particles and elusive dark matter.
Apart from being an accomplished author, more worldly appearances in the realm of pop culture have seen her opposite Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, appeared on Charlie Rose, the TV talk show, and a cameo on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory and ultimately a listing in TIME Magazine’s "100 Most Influential People" in 2007.
In person and in conversation during ThinkInc’s “An evening with,” Dr. Randall is refreshingly blunt, detached and has a “matter of factly” approach when she enlightened us about the fact that the universe is one.
Her at times steely expression is testament to the life of a theoretical physicist who traverses the abyss between the unknown and known, guided by intuition, stoically walking the thin line between making hypotheses that change our outlook on life or trailblazing wrongs that still help steer the way to the truth. She is an advocate of keeping an open mind and well aware that some of her more unorthodox ideas will be labeled as a “stretch” by her peers.
Without jargon or mathematics, she steers us through centuries of sometimes-tortuous astronomical history and is particularly illuminating when briefing us on the cosmic objects that sometimes land on planet Earth with unpleasant consequences.
Randall’s story draws on a wide variety of disciplines, including biology, paleontology, meteorology and mathematics. Yet by far the most compelling part of her is when she brings together all the strands of her theories, describes its genesis and looks to the future.
She is at ease with the unknown and explains her work of creative computational cosmology with carefully drawn analogies to the uninitiated.
A lucid explainer, street-wise and informal. To the point. Someone who has far bigger fish to fry than discussing the tedious subject of being a “woman in science” or feeling an urge to prove herself as a pioneer at every given occasion, something her male counterparts would not have to waste time on.
The event had something to offer to both – the initiated subject matter experts as well as the inquisitive general member of member of the public, which is something that has become a trademark of ThinkInc’s events.
Photos by KAVV