Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - 7:00pm
Professor Lisa Randall, bestselling author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven's Door and one of today's most influential and highly-cited theoretical physicists, once again effortlessly delivers fascinating science to the general reader. Weaving together the cosmos' history and our own in an expanding intellectual adventure story, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs takes us from the mysteries of dark matter and our cosmic environment to the conditions for life on Earth.
Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. What was its origin? Randall proposes it was a comet that was dislodged from its orbit as the Solar System passed through a disk of dark matter that is embedded in the plane of the Milky Way. Her research challenges the usual assumptions about the simple nature of dark matter and demonstrates how scientists formulate and establish new ideas. In a sense, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs.
With her unique and wide-ranging perspective, Randall connects dark matter to the history of the world in the broadest terms. Bringing in pop culture and social and political viewpoints, she shares with us the latest findings established and speculative regarding dark matter, the cosmos, the galaxy, asteroids, comets, and impacts, as well as life's development and extinctions. Randall makes clear how connected the planet is to the makeup of the Universe, but also how fragile our place in the Universe, which evolved over billions of years, might be.
In this brilliant and fresh exploration of our cosmic environment, Professor Randall explains the underlying science of our world in the breathtaking tale of a Universe in which the small and the large, the visible and the hidden are intimately related. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs illuminates the deep relationships that are critical to our world as well as the astonishing beauty of the structures and connections that surround us. It's impossible to read this book and look at either Earth or sky again in the same way.
Lisa Randall studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University where she is Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Randall is the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees. Professor Randall’s two books, Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven’s Door were listed on the New York Times 100 Most Influential Books. Randall has also recently pursued art-science connections, writing a libretto for Hypermusic: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes that premiered in the Pompidou Center in Paris, and co-curating the art exhibit Measure for Measure for the Los Angeles Arts Association.
"This is the first work of theoretical physics I've read and I loved it! In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Randall artfully introduces her theory in ways that are accessible to an amateur audience. A disk of dark matter, she argues, may have been responsible for rerouting that infamous meteor toward Earth, resulting in the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. If you're not already one, Randall will leave you feeling like a physicist!" --Ashley, Bookshop Santa Cruz