Lisa Randall

  • Aired:  10/26/11
  •  | Views: 51,879

Physicist and author Lisa Randall explores how science illuminates the modern world and why some people are unwilling to accept scientific findings. (6:13)

>> WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, A PHYSICS

PROFESSOR AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY,

ALSO A BESTSELLING AUTHOR.

HER NEW BOOK IS CALLED "KNOCKING

ON HEAVEN'S DOOR: HOW PHYSICS

AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING

ILLUMINATE THE UNIVERSE AND THE

MODERN WORLD."

PLEASE WELCOME LISA RANDALL.

HELLO.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME HERE.

>> Jon: IT'S CALLED "KNOCKING

ON HEAVEN'S DOOR: HOW PHYSIC AND

SCIENTIFIC THINKING ILLUMINATE

THE UNIVERSE AND THE MODERN

WORLD.

PHYSICS AND SCIENCE

ILLUMINATE THE UNIVERSE AND THE

MODERN WORLD.

WHY DO WE FIGHT SO HARD NOT TO

BE ILLUMINATED BY IT?

>> THAT IS A REALLY GOOD YES,

AND I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER.

I FIND IT SO FASCINATING AND

EXCITING, BUT I GUESS PART OF

THE REASON MIGHT BE THAT SOME OF

THE IDEAS ARE REMOVED FROM WHAT

WE SEE IN OUR DAILY LIVES.

THEY'RE NOT NECESSARILY THE MOST

INTUITIVE.

SO WE HAVE TO GET OUTSIDE THE

FRAME OF HUMAN SCALES OR HUMAN

SIZES AND THINK ABOUT WHAT'S

REALLY GOING ON AT PLACES WHERE

YOU ACTUALLY NEED TECHNOLOGY TO

MAKE MEASUREMENTS.

BUT MY HOPE IS THAT IF PEOPLE

LEARN MORE ABOUT IT OR ARE AWARE

OF IT THEN THEY WON'T BE SO

AFRAID AND THEY WILL BE MORE

INTERESTED.

>> Jon: I THOUGHT IT WAS

INTERESTING TO WATCH IN THE

FIRST PART, THERE'S A SENSE THAT

THIS IS VERY COMPLICATED, AND IT

SOUNDS MADE UP.

[LAUGHTER]

SO YOU MUST BE MAKING IT UP AND

THEN IT'S A VERY EASY THING TO

SAY, AND THE REASON YOU'RE

MAKING IT UP IS BECAUSE YOU'RE

WORKING FOR THE DEMOCRATS.

[LAUGHTER]

YOU KNOW, SOMEHOW... I DON'T

UNDERSTAND HOW IT BECOMES A

POLITICAL ISSUE.

IT'S A VERY STRANGE LITTLE TURN

THAT HAPPENS THERE.

>> AND PART OF THE PROBLEM I

THINK IS THAT WE ACTUALLY DON'T

ALWAYS TALK ABOUT THE SCIENCE.

WE'RE A LITTLE BIT AFRAID TO

TALK ABOUT THE SCIENCE ITSELF.

WE TALK ABOUT PEOPLE.

WHEN WE REPORT, THIS PERSON SAID

THIS, THIS PERSON SAID THAT.

AND THAT'S NOT THE SAME AS

REALLY UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS AT

THE ROOT OF IT.

AND IT'S ALSO TRUE THAT SCIENCE

ISN'T ALWAYS ENTIRELY PREDICTIVE

AT 100% LEVEL.

THAT'S PART OF THE NATURE OF

SCIENCE.

THAT'S WHY WE STILL HAVE

RESEARCH.

AND THAT'S NOT A BAD THING.

AND BECAUSE WE SO MUCH WANT

SCIENCE TO JUST SAY, THIS IS THE

WAY IT WORKS, WE SOMETIMES LOSE

THAT AND WE LOSE THE FACT THAT

THIS UNCERTAINTY IS ACTUALLY

INTERESTING.

IT'S PLACE PEOPLE CAN THINK AND

YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND THE

ASSUMPTION, UNDERSTAND THE

QUESTIONS PEOPLE ARE ASKING, SO

YOU CAN MOVE FORWARD.

>> Jon: I ALWAYS FELT THAT THE

MORE YOU LEARN FROM SCIENTIFIC

RESEARCH, THE MORE MYSTERIOUS

AND INCREDIBLE THE UNIVERSE

BECOMES.

YOU KNOW, EVEN IF YOU LEARN

EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BIG

BANG, WHAT A PARTICLE IS OR

WHATEVER OTHER THINGS YOU

CLEARLY ARE MAKING UP, THAT

DOESN'T DISCOUNT, THAT DOESN'T

EVER GET... I DON'T THINK WE'LL

EVER GET TO THE POINT WHERE WE

KNOW EVERYTHING AND THEREFORE

THERE'S NO ROOM FOR GOD OR FAITH

OR ANYTHING.

IS THAT... WHY ARE THEY

INCOMPATIBLE?

>> WELL, OKAY.

FIRST OF ALL, I ANOTHER SAY THE

FACT THERE ARE ALL THESE

QUESTIONS IS FANTASTIC.

FIRST OF ALL, IT WOULD BE WEIRD

IF WE LIVED AT THE ONE TIME

WHERE WE SUDDENLY KNEW ALL THE

ANSWERS.

THAT'S WHAT GIVES US ROOM TO DO

STUFF.

BUT IN TERMS OF ROOM FOR GOD,

PEOPLE CAN THINK WHATEVER THEY

WANT.

THERE'S ROOM FOR SOCIAL

IMPLICATIONS OR PSYCHOLOGICAL,

BUT SCIENCE ACTUALLY TELLS US A

VERY DEFINITE WAY OF MOVING

FORWARD.

IT DOESN'T SAY WE KNOW THE

ANSWER TO EVERYTHING.

IT SAYS THIS IS WHAT WE KNOW.

THIS IS THE DEGREE OF PRECISION

WITH WHICH WE KNOW IT, AND THIS

IS HOW WE CAN MOVE FORWARD, AN

WE CAN MOVE FORWARD BY STUDYING

THINGS THAT WE CAN TEST.

WE CAN HAVE IDEAS.

WE DON'T YET KNOW THE ANSWER.

THAT WAS THE TITLE OF MY BOOK,

"KNOCKING ON HEAVEN'S DOOR" WAS

SUPPOSED TO CONVEY THE IDEA THAT

WE DO KNOW A LOT, BUT THERE IS

AN EDGE BEYOND IT THAT WE'RE

STILL TRYING TO PRY OPEN.

AND SO THIS IS WHAT SIGNS DOES.

AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH

THAT.

>> DO YOU THINK THE CONFLUENCE

OF SCIENCE AND THE INDIVIDUAL...

HAS SCIENCE GOTTEN SO COMPLEX

AND OUR KNOWLEDGE GOTTEN SO

GREAT THAT WE STILL HAVE ROOM

FOR THINGS LIKE, YOU KNOW, WE

HAD WALTER ISAACSON STEVE JOBS,

THIS GUY IN HIS GARAGE TOOK WHAT

WAS THE FOREFRONT OF

SEMICONDUCTOR SCIENCE AND COULD

STILL IN HIS GARAGE FASHION NEW

AND INCREDIBLE THINGS THAT WOULD

HELP YOU PLAY PONG.

[LAUGHTER]

ARE WE AT A POINT WHERE THAT

STILL WILL BE ABLE TO... IS

THERE A VANGUARD OF THAT CAN

STILL OCCUR WITH THE INDIVIDUAL?

>> LOOK, YOU KNOW, WHEN PEOPLE

WERE WORKING OUT IN THE EARLY

1300s HOW IT IS THIS AT TOM

COULD MAKE SENSE WITH NUCLEUS

AND ELECTRONS, THEY WEREN'T

THINKING ABOUT PONG.

MANY YEARS LATER PEOPLE FOUND

THAT, WOW, THIS HAS

IMPLICATIONS.

THERE'S SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY.

WE CAN DO ELECTRONICS.

AND IT CHANGES THE WORLD.

I DON'T THINK WE ALWAYS KNOW

WHAT THOSE THINGS ARE AT THE

TIME WE'RE DOING IT.

BUT SOMEHOW IT SEEMS THAT THESE

ADVANCES COME MAYBE NOT EXACTLY

IN TANDEM BUT CERTAINLY WHEN WE

HAVE MORE KNOWLEDGE TO THINK

THROUGH THEM.

>> Jon: IS THERE ANY... WHY DO

YOU THINK THE FURTHER WE GET

INTO IT, WE'RE STILL STUCK IN

THAT FOSSIL FUEL, YOU KNOW,

ENGINE, AND WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE

FOR 100-SOME YEARS WITH ALL THE

ADVANCES WE MADE IN SO MANY

AREAS, WHY ENERGY IS STILL

SOMEWHAT IN ITS 1880s, 180 R

90s FORM STILL.

>> THIS IS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

BECAUSE I'M THE SCIENTIST

DOESN'T MEAN I KNOW THE ANSWER

TO THAT QUESTION.

>> HERE'S THE THING.

HERE'S PART OF THE ANSWER.

YOU CAN SAY ANYTHING AND I WOULD

HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.

>> BECAUSE I DON'T THINK THE

ANSWER IS ENTIRELY SCIENCE.

I THINK PART OF IT IS SCIENCE.

THERE ISN'T A MAGIC BULLET YET.

THEY HAVEN'T DEVELOPED THE NEW

BATTERY THAT'S GOING TO REPLACE

EVERYTHING AT THIS POINT.

AND THAT'S A DIFFICULT SCIENCE.

AND IT DOESN'T HAPPEN THE WAY

THE WEB HAPPENS OR THINGS EXPO

INNOCENT ESTIMATE.

YOU HAVE TO DO SOME HARD

RESEARCH TO COME UP WITH

SOMETHING.

I THINK OBVIOUSLY THERE'S A LOT

OF ENTRENCHED BUSINESS

INTERESTS.

THERE'S A LOT OF OTHER THINGS

INVOLVED THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO

WITH SCIENCE.

AND I THINK THAT GETS CONFUSED,

HOW SCIENCE INTERFACES WITH THE

WORLD.

THAT'S WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO

KNOW A SCIENTIFIC THING AND HOW

IT'S BEING USED.

>> IT'S SO NICE TO FINALLY HAVE

SOMEONE COME ON AND TELL US TO

OUR FACES IT'S ALL A BIG SCAM.

AND I REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

KNOCKING ON HEAVEN'S DOOR.

YOU GOT TO GET THIS.

LISA RANDALL.

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