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Knocking On Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate our Universe by [Randall, Lisa]
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Knocking On Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate our Universe Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Review

"Full of passion and jaw-dropping facts. . . . A fascinating account of modern particle physics, both theoretical and practical."--The Independent on Sunday

"[A] whip-smart inquiry into the scientific work being conducted in particle physics. . . . [Randall] brings a thrumming enthusiasm to the topic, but she is unhurried and wryly humorous. . . . ["Knocking on Heaven's Door"] dazzles like the stars."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Beautifully written. . . . An impressive overview of what scientists (of any kind) get up to, how they work and why science is an inherently creative endeavor."--Times Higher Education (London)

"Randall's witty, accessible discussion reveals the effort and wonder at hand as scientists strive to learn who we are and where we came from."--Publishers Weekly

"Randall manages to transform . . . experiments at distant and unfamiliar scales into crucial acts in a cosmic drama."--Daily Beast

"Written with dry wit and ice-cool clarity. . . . "Knocking on Heaven's Door" is a book that anyone at all interested in science must read. This is surely the science book of the year."--Sunday Times (London)

"The general reader's indispensable passport to the frontiers of science."--Booklist (starred review)

"An exciting read about the very edge of modern science. . . . ["Knocking on Heaven's Door"] inspires a sense of awe, appreciation and excitement for what the future holds."--Daily Texan

"[Randall is] one of the more original theorists at work in the profession today. . . . She gives a fine analysis of the affinity between scientific and artistic beauty, comparing the broken symmetries of a Richard Serra sculpture to those at the core of the Standard Model."--New York Times Book Review

"Offers the reader a glimpse of the future. . . . An enlightening and exciting read."--San Francisco Book Review

"Valuable and engaging. . . . Randall's generous cornucopia of ideas, her engaging style, and above all her deep excitement about physics make this a book that deserves a wide readership."--American Scientist

"Explores some of the biggest ideas in contemporary physics and how they undergird such everyday matters as risk assessment, logic and even our understanding of beauty."--Time magazine

"[V]ery accessible, readable, and appealing to a broad audience. . . . Randall's passion and excitement for science and physics is infectious and welcome in our digital age."--New York Journal of Books

"A highly readable, accessible look at particle physics today and . . . a passionate defense and celebration of the scientific worldview in general."--Discovery News

"[Randall's] eloquent book details the trials and tribulations of the [Large Hadron Collider], from conception to implementation, and takes us on a grand tour of the underlying science."--Nature

"Lisa Randall is the rarest rarity--a theoretical physics genius who can write and talk to the rest of us in ways we both understand and enjoy. This book takes nonspecialists as close as they'll ever get to the inner workings of the cosmos."--Lawrence H. Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard University

"I didn't think it was possible to write a complex, detailed look at the world of physics that the non-scientist could understand, but then Lisa Randall wrote this amazing, insightful, and engaging book and proved me wrong."--Carlton Cuse, award-winning producer and writer of "Lost"

"Written with dry wit and ice-cool clarity. A book anyone at all interested in science must read. Surely the science book of the year."--Sunday Times (London)

"Startlingly honest [and] beautifully written. . . . Randall's calm authority and clarity of explanation are exemplary. . . . Like being taken behind the curtain in Oz and given a full tour by the wizard."--New Scientist

"Very accessible, readable, and appealing to a broad audience. . . . Randall's passion and excitement for science and physics is infectious and welcome in our digital age."--New York Journal of Books

"Lisa Randall has written "Knocking on Heaven's Door" in the same witty, informal style with which she explains physics in person, making complex ideas fascinating and easy to understand. Her book . . . just might make you think differently--and encourage you to make smarter decisions about the world."--President Bill Clinton

"A deep and deeply wonderful explanation of how science--and the rest of the known universe--actually works."--Daniel Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness"

"Science has a battle for hearts and minds on its hands: a battle on two fronts--against superstition and ignorance on one flank, and against pseudo-intellectual obscurantism on the other. How good it feels to have Lisa Randall's unusual blend of top flight science, clarity, and charm on our side."--Richard Dawkins, author of "The Selfish Gene" and "The God Delusion"

"Randall's lucid explanations of . . . the frontiers of physics-including her own dazzling ideas-are highly illuminating, and her hearty defense of reason and science is a welcome contribution. . . . Read this book today to understand the science of tomorrow."--Steven Pinker, author of "How the Mind Works" and "The Stuff of Thought"

"Lisa Randall does a great job of explaining to the non-physicist the basic science approaches of modern physics and what the latest experiments might reveal. . . . This is a must read to appreciate what is coming in our future."--J. Craig Venter, sequencer of the human genome and developer of the first synthetic life

Written with dry wit and ice-cool clarity. A book anyone at all interested in science must read. Surely the science book of the year. --Sunday Times (London)"

Startlingly honest [and] beautifully written. . . . Randall s calm authority and clarity of explanation are exemplary. . . . Like being taken behind the curtain in Oz and given a full tour by the wizard. --New Scientist"

[Randall is] one of the more original theorists at work in the profession today. . . . She gives a fine analysis of the affinity between scientific and artistic beauty, comparing the broken symmetries of a Richard Serra sculpture to those at the core of the Standard Model. --New York Times Book Review"

[A] whip-smart inquiry into the scientific work being conducted in particle physics. . . . [Randall] brings a thrumming enthusiasm to the topic, but she is unhurried and wryly humorous. . . . ["Knocking on Heaven s Door"] dazzles like the stars. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"

The general reader s indispensable passport to the frontiers of science. --Booklist (starred review)"

[Randall s] eloquent book details the trials and tribulations of the [Large Hadron Collider], from conception to implementation, and takes us on a grand tour of the underlying science. --Nature"

Offers the reader a glimpse of the future. . . . An enlightening and exciting read. --San Francisco Book Review"

Valuable and engaging. . . . Randall s generous cornucopia of ideas, her engaging style, and above all her deep excitement about physics make this a book that deserves a wide readership. --American Scientist"

Full of passion and jaw-dropping facts. . . . A fascinating account of modern particle physics, both theoretical and practical. --The Independent on Sunday"

Beautifully written. . . . An impressive overview of what scientists (of any kind) get up to, how they work and why science is an inherently creative endeavor. --Times Higher Education (London)"

Randall s witty, accessible discussion reveals the effort and wonder at hand as scientists strive to learn who we are and where we came from. --Publishers Weekly"

Randall manages to transform . . . experiments at distant and unfamiliar scales into crucial acts in a cosmic drama. --Daily Beast"

An exciting read about the very edge of modern science. . . . ["Knocking on Heaven s Door"] inspires a sense of awe, appreciation and excitement for what the future holds. --Daily Texan"

Very accessible, readable, and appealing to a broad audience. . . . Randall s passion and excitement for science and physics is infectious and welcome in our digital age. --New York Journal of Books"

Lisa Randall is the rarest raritya theoretical physics genius who can write and talk to the rest of us in ways we both understand and enjoy. This book takes nonspecialists as close as they ll ever get to the inner workings of the cosmos. --Lawrence H. Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard University"

Randall s lucid explanations of . . . the frontiers of physics-including her own dazzling ideas-are highly illuminating, and her hearty defense of reason and science is a welcome contribution. . . . Read this book today to understand the science of tomorrow. --Steven Pinker, author of "How the Mind Works" and "The Stuff of Thought""

Lisa Randall does a great job of explaining to the non-physicist the basic science approaches of modern physics and what the latest experiments might reveal. . . . This is a must read to appreciate what is coming in our future. --J. Craig Venter, sequencer of the human genome and developer of the first synthetic life"

I didn t think it was possible to write a complex, detailed look at the world of physics that the non-scientist could understand, but then Lisa Randall wrote this amazing, insightful, and engaging book and proved me wrong. --Carlton Cuse, award-winning producer and writer of "Lost""

Lisa Randall has written "Knocking on Heaven s Door" in the same witty, informal style with which she explains physics in person, making complex ideas fascinating and easy to understand. Her book . . . just might make you think differently and encourage you to make smarter decisions about the world. --President Bill Clinton"

A deep and deeply wonderful explanation of how science and the rest of the known universe actually works. --Daniel Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness""

Lisa Randall is the rarest rarity a theoretical physics genius who can write and talk to the rest of us in ways we both understand and enjoy. This book takes nonspecialists as close as they ll ever get to the inner workings of the cosmos. --Lawrence H. Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard University"

Science has a battle for hearts and minds on its hands: a battle on two fronts against superstition and ignorance on one flank, and against pseudo-intellectual obscurantism on the other. How good it feels to have Lisa Randall s unusual blend of top flight science, clarity, and charm on our side. --Richard Dawkins, author of "The Selfish Gene" and "The God Delusion""

Review

"[A] whip-smart inquiry into the scientific work being conducted in particle physics. . . . [Randall] brings a thrumming enthusiasm to the topic, but she is unhurried and wryly humorous. . . . ["Knocking on Heaven's Door"] dazzles like the stars."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3208 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (22 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009EQG8XY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #238,239 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There's probably a need for a book that explains the state of cutting edge science at the moment in an accessible and intelligent format for the layman. Unfortunately, this book isn't it. There's no doubt that the author knows her stuff. But science writing, ironically, is an art, and Randall isn't very good at it. Her prose is dull and highly repetitive. In order to digest a difficult subject for an uninitiated audience, you need to tell a good story, but Randall really makes this a laborious, grinding job, forever repeating, meandering, and circling back to her theme (...'as I said in Chapter 3'), without building up any tension or interest. Other problems: 1) she has a habit of name dropping throughout the text, letting us know what this or that celebrity, irrelevantly, thinks of current science issues. This gives the disagreeable impression that the Large Hadron Collider is a lifestyle club for the rich and famous. It probably is, but it doesn't help the book. 2) Scientists are not known for their mature sense of humour. The author would have been well advised to leave out most of the jokes. 3) The illustrations in the book are largely superfluous, and more patronising than the text. 4) You don't need to put citations throughout the text. It's not an academic paper, so noone is going to accuse you of stealing their work. You don't need to attribute every idea to its originator here. Scientists must be paranoid.
There are science writers, and then there are scientists, like Randall, who need either a good ghost, or a skilled copyeditor to pull her text together. Knocking on Heaven's door could be half as long, and twice as good. Bit of a shame, really.
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Format: Hardcover
Eminent theoretical physicist Lisa Randall regards her new book "Knocking on Heaven's Door" as a "prequel" to her earlier "Warped Passages". But it is much more than that, as a clearly written statement by a distinguished scientist explaining how science works to an interested, if substantially scientific illiterate, public. While there are other books, such as those written by her high school and college classmate, physicist Brian Greene, which emphasize the state-of-the-art thinking in theoretical physics, Randall's is one that still deserves a wide readership, especially for its emphasis on how scientists conduct their scientific research, and in noting how the public often misinterprets it. These aspects of science, and the public's understanding of it, are the most important reasons why "Knocking of Heaven's Door" is an important contribution to popular scientific literature.

The notion of scaling - or rather, scale - is one of the most important concepts which Randall returns to again and again in "Knocking on Heaven's Door". She argues persuasively that, on a macroscopic scale, Newton's laws of motion are still relevant in explaining the motions of large objects such as planets and moons in the Solar System; it is only at atomic and subatomic scales that quantum mechanics does a much better job in explaining motions of subatomic particles. In other words, in plain English, Newtonian classical mechanics has become merely a subset of modern theoretical physics.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am sure Randall is a brilliant, and possibly an original scientist, however I find her thoughts on the philosophy of science, on creativity, and on human nature generally mundane. This would not matter so much if it were not for the fact they take up so much of her book. This inadvertent banality somehow extends into the scientific passages, in the form of repetitions - she sometimes repeats the same point three times in the same paragraph - as if she does not trust her audience will be able to accept some of the more surprising ideas she is presenting.
On the positive side, the author did come across as a genuine and likeable person, if not a great stylist. Perhaps she just needs a bit more faith in her readers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You may need to be American to really like this book. I found it to be too verbose, too repetitious, and thin on detail. There are also too many sermons and an embarassing amount (to English eyes) of name dropping and self-promotion. That said, I did learn things from it which I haven't seen elsewhere, and I write as a regular New Scientist reader.
A great deal of the book is devoted to the philosophy of science. Unfortunately, like many practicing scientists, Lisa Randall's philosophy of science is naive and confused to a toe-curling degree. She thinks she's in the business of proving things to be true, and says so, often.
If you loved "The First Three Minutes" and "A Brief History of Time", then you'll probably find this book to be a disappointment. But if there is a better one on the market, I haven't heard of it.
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Format: Paperback
I looked forward to reading this book as I am a physicist myself, but I ended up disappointed. There is a good deal of interesting information in the book but its wrapped up in personal comments which add nothing to the explanations of the LHC and the current thinking in particle physics. But the thing that really lets it down are the figures and photographs - they really are very poor and if a good diagram or picture is worth a thousand words then this book deserved much better. Some of photos and pictures of the LHC are either so small as to be useless or so devoid of contrast in black and white as to be blobs on the page.
As this book was written before the LHC had seen the Higgs boson then better books will surely be available for those interested in learning more.
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