November 12, 2015
Lisa Randall —
Dark Matter and the Astounding Interconnectedness of Everything

“Our world is rich,” Lisa Randall has written, “so rich that two of the most important questions particle physicists ask are: Why this richness? How is all the matter that I see related?” As one of the most influential theoretical physicists working today, she's increasingly interested in the interconnectedness between fields that have previously operated more autonomously: astronomy, biology, and paleontology. She’s pursuing a theory that “dark matter” might have created the cosmic event that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs — and hence humanity’s rise as a species. We explore what she’s discovering, as well as the human questions and takeaways her work throws into relief.

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is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University. Her new book is Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe. She's also the author of Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions and Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.

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Such an important interview. Professor Randall's work is brilliant and so important. As simple a change in terms from dark to transparent energy, that does not interact with light, is so important. Her work should be taught in the general curriculum around the country. Professor Randall carries on the tradition of Teilhard Chardin and Thomas Berry about the wonder and importance for all to tell the story of the universe properly, with technical and scientific brilliance thrown in for good measure. Excellent.

Prior to listening to this program I'd read Knocking on Heaven's Door and watched a video of a lecture Prof. Randall had given. Kudos to Krista, for an interview that was very interesting. I will have to admit that I put Knocking on Heaven's Door down after it steered away from the philosophy of Science and delved deeper into particle physics. Now I'm going to have to take the time to pick up Knocking on Heaven's Door again and listen to the unedited interview.

My other point in writing is to reflect on two things: the issue of scale (which was brought up briefly), and the notion of seeing what you look for (which is now almost a platitude). So (as Prof. Randall mentions) Newton's Laws aren't wrong, they are very useful at the human scale for which they were originally devised. The limitations of Newton's Laws weren't seen until we looked at phenomenon of much larger and smaller scales. I would be very interested in hearing Krista discuss with Prof. Randall the issue of scale and what it means to be human. At the human scale we are individuals, but at a larger scale we are an integral part of something much larger and the impact of an individual is much harder to measure. When I talk with my friends about this I say that we are both broken and whole and have finally realized that I'm talking about a matter of scale. In my wildest moments I wonder if this might be a one way to address the science vs. religion issue. Whereas as a scientist will always break the universe into parts in order to understand it, others will seek to look at the universe at a larger scale. Thus, a Christian (which I am not) would seek to participate in the Death and Resurrection (there by participating in life at a different scale) every moment of every day.

Enjoyed your exchange with Randall regarding Greene and high school. In 1980 Randall was 1st place and Greene was a finalist in the Intel awards. As she said they were from the same high school in New York.

I deeply appreciate your insightful comment. I believe we are at a similar scale. Thank you!

Very interesting question about time at the end of the episode!

Time it just a concept as well as a soul so both simply doesn't exist!

What people perceive as time is a simple "seasoning" like leaves falling from the trees & snow falling from the sky & then melting & at the same time planet Earth is simply spinning around in timeless Universe!

You can see your brain like a Universe where all thoughts & memories are timeless & you can reach anything instantly!

And the most fast speed is not the speed of light, but the speed of instant!

Can I (we) come live with you? Serious here... . Enjoying your conversation and my regards to Lawrence Krauss.

Krista - In light of the events on a geo anything (politics, whatever) I hope that we abide in the laws of science that don't put us at risk more than we have. I have a home and although there great works that have/are coming out from Harvard scholars I think we need to be careful (not fearful but careful). Thanks for the recap.

She reminds me of Sherry Turkle, in that, their theories are completely insane and on a similar book tour.

I enjoyed the interview. It's wonderful that such an intelligent person is working to understand the unseen reality that lead to our lived experiences here as humans on earth. I sense, however, a hesitancy to enter into the transcendent, a hesitancy to ask the questions of "why," and to be humble and full of gratitude for the creator who wrote the fundamental equations the universe is based on. As we progress in our understanding of the fundamental nature of reality, many of the answers seem to point towards connectivity, towards underlying unity and an awe-inspiring perfection that lies beneath or within what seems like a very imperfect world.

I don't think it wasn't a hesitancy to ask the big "why". My impression was that she just doesn't find it useful to think about those things. If her work started to point to a creator, I'm sure she would believe it. But it doesn't, so she doesn't. Honestly, I felt like Krista forced the issue a little too much. (If you listen to the uncut version. I don't listen to the produced shows.)

Nassim Haramein's genius is to have turned a proton into a black hole and discovered that the gravitational attraction of a black hole the size of a proton precisely equals the strong force. The consequences of this hypothesis are extraordinary, since they could lead to this revolution in the foundations of physics that was expected by the fathers of quantum physics, to unify the four interactions, to finally unveil what mass, gravitational force, etc., are. Besides, for the first time, quantum and Newtonian physics would no longer be separate...

I am writing as someone without scientific training. However, I've always enjoy watching and listening to discussion of dark matter on television and on radio. I've always wondered why some scientists see the word God as a taboo. If they acknowledge the handiwork of God in nature, does it take anything away from their intellect? Listen to this; "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork" (Psalm 19 :1). Scientists still don't know all that is needed to be known in biology, cosmos, and diseases. Does "dark matter" exist today? I don't know, but there was a time dark matter existed. Listen to this; And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). There is interconnectedness in things because of oneness in all things. Listen to this; "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Psalm 33 : 9). "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible... were created by him, and for him" (Colossians 1:16). Every year myriads of awards or prices are given to individuals or groups because of their excellent creativity, brilliance, and intellect in their respective fields. They ought to be recognized and honored because they have contributed something or made a difference in society. My question is, why do these men and women receive more honor and recognition than God? Even though, they live, and move and have their being in him and without him they can do nothing ( Acts 17: 28, John 15 : 5).

In response to Dan O Pokima , if scientists, or more specifically, physicists, avoid mentioning "God," perhaps it is due to this difference between the perspective and concerns of the individual compared to those of someone exploring the universe. By citing the Bible, it seems safe to assume that from your perspective , the Christain view of God is the Universal God. It may very well seem that way to you and others, looking up into stars from where you stand, most likely in a part of the world where others share your religuos view. But imagine looking down on the earth from light years away. Or even from the surface of the moon. From there, we see the entire planet, with many continents, and 7.3 billion different people worshiping up to 300 different major religions, up to 30,000 seperate Christian groups alone. From this perspective, how does one speak of "a" single God? Now imagine turning ones gaze away from the earth, and looking out into the universe, knowing that there's far more out there than can be seen. What does any one of these human constructions of God mean to anything or anyone out there in the distant space?

As a sociologist and a scholar I suspect that any human view of God is far too simplistic and far too limited in scope to account for the larger questions of the universes. And this is understandable - the Gods of people on Earth need only to answer the questions facing those people in everyday life. Every version of God (or Gods, for thoses religions that worship more than one) throughout human history has been shaped around the needs and interests of a the affected group of people, and in stratified societies, the ruling classes of those people, and and as such, provided moral structures and cultural ideas that reflect the realities and histories of that people. A quick perusal of various religious texts reveals that many of the prescribed rituals and practices of human religions are, or were, quite pragmatic - for instance, rules of what is to be eaten and how might reflect real life risks associated with those foods should the rules be broken. In this way, the cultural context of religions is revealed, and reflects the situated and the individual level foundations of particular religuous beliefs. The variations that arise within a larger religious group - as in divisions or denominations - could be seen as arising from variations in localized ways of life.

I understand that to many adherents of the various religions of world, the words I've written here would be considered heresy. And that alone helps us understand why, for many scientists, any one religion becomes problematic - ideally,nin any science, one must alway question, must never take anything for granted, but remain open minded enough to see that which is made invisible by absolutes. The minute I assume I have the absolute truth, and that anyone who challenges my truth, even with good evidence and logic, is committing heresy, or ignorance, I limit my ability to ask more questions and developed more thorough understandings of the subject matter. Why would I,nif I thought I already had the "Truth."

. It is also the case that science relies on logical reasoning, the best evidence available (scientific methodology), and critical thinking, all of which enables us to differentiate between facts ( as they are currently understood) and conventuals wisdom rooted in situated experiences. The foundations of science also enable us to assess different claims of "truth" on the relative strength of evidence and reasoning. Critical thinking involves ongoing reflection and reconsideration of the assumptions on which each scientific "truth" is based on, the adequacy and definitions of both the dependent and independent variables used in research and the interpretations of the findings of research. Of course, even scientists must work very hard not to get to comfortable with their "truths," as new ideas, findings and technology can further develop, or challenge what is assumed to be true in a given field of research. Although many scientists believe that with each new "discovery" they are coming closer to THE TRUTH, and some work to find evidence of what they theorize to be THE TRUTH, the fact is that the more open we are to the possibility that we simply don't know, the more open we are to ask questions, explore further and find new facts that open the doors to new understandings of the great unknown that surrounds us.

Religion and science help humans deal with the uncertainty of life. Uncertainty is a relatively new phenomenon for humans, if we accept the scientific assumption that the human animal - or its previous forms - existed tens of thousands of years before humans gained the use of significant gestures and language. The development of languages, which allowed members of human groups to share meaning with one another - that is, the actual and possible respinses to an object - also allowed them to escape reactivity. In other words, shared meanings, and thus human consciousness and human culture, took the place of any hard wired responses to stimuli, freeing the human so that they might think about and choose their responses. While this freed the human to learn and share knowledge between each other and generations, it also created uncertainty. Before the rise of human consciousness, Without Instinct to structure human existence (and making consciousness, self, and thought unnecesIn response to Dan O Pokima , if scientists, or more specifically, physicists, avoid mentioning "God," perhaps it is due to this difference between the perspective and concerns of the individual co pared to those of someone exploring the universe. By citing the Bible, it seems safe to assume that from your perspective , the Christain view of God is the Universal God. It may very well see that way looking up into stars from where you stand, most likely in a part of the world where others share that view. But imagine looking down on the earth from light years away. Or even from the surface of the moon. From here, we see and entire planet, with many continents, and 7.3 billion different people worshiping up to 300 different major religions, up to different 30,000 seperate Christian groups. From this perspective, how does one speak of "a" single God? Now imagine turning ones gaze away from the earth, and looking out into the universe, knowing that there's far more out there than can be seen. What does any one of these human constructions of God mean to anything or anyone out there in the distant space?

As a sociologist and a scholar I suspect that any human view of God is far too simplistic and far too limited in scope to account for the larger questions of the universes. And this is understandable - the Gods of people on Earth needed only to answer the questions facing them on the smaller scale if everyday life. Every version of God (or Gods, for thoses religions that worship more than one) throughout human history was shaped around the needs and interests of a the group of people, and innstratified societies their ruling classes, and provided moral structures and cu,turn ideas that reflected the realities and histories of that people. A quick perusal of various religious texts reveals that many of the prescribed rituals and practices had practical roots - for instance, rules of what is to be eaten and how might reflect real life risks associated with those foods should the rules be broken. In this way, the cultural context of religions is revealed and reflects the situated and the individual level roots of particular religuous beliefs. The variations that arise within a larger religious group - as in divisions or demo inactions - could be seen as arising from more localized ways of life.

I understand that to many adherents of the various religions of world, the words I've written here would be considered heresy. And that alone helps us understand why for many scientists, any one religion becomes problematic - in science, one must alway question, must never take anything for granted, but remain open minded enough to see that which is made invisible by absolutes. The minute I assume I have the absolute truth, and that anyone who challenges my truth is committing heresy, or a sin, I stop being a good scientist. It is also the case that science relies on logical reasoning, the best evidence available, and critical thinking. The latter is what keeps science from becoming stagnant and largely ineffective. Critical thinking involves ongoing reflection and reconsideration of the assumptions on which each scientific "truth" is based in, the adequacy and definitions of both the dependent and independent variables used in research and the interpretations of this research. Of course, even scientists must work very hard not to get to comfortable with their "truths," as new ideas, findings and technology often comes along that allow for expansion or even a complete change in what is assumed to be true in a given field of research. Although many scientists believe that with each new "discovery" we are coming closer to THE TRUTH, and some work to find evidence of what they theorize to be THE TRUTH, the fact is that the more open we are to the possibility that we simply don't know, the more open we are to ask questions, explore further and find new facts that open the door to new understandings of the great unknown that surrounds us.

Religion and science help humans deal with the uncertainty of life. Uncertainty is a relatively new phenomenon for humans, if we accept the scientific assumption that the human animal - or its previous forms - existed tens of thousands of years before the formation of significant gestures and language. With the rise of languages, which allowed members of human groups to share meaning with one another - that is, the actual and possible respinses to an object - also allowed them to escape reactivity. In other words, shared meanings, and thus human consciousness and human culture, took the place of any hard wired responses to stimuli, freeing the human so that they might think about and choose their responses. While this freed the human to learn and share knowledge between each other and between generations, it also created uncertainty for humans - they no longer had hard wired instinct to structure their existence. Instinct and the lack of shared meanings and self awareness meant the humans lived in the moment, and each moment existed somewhat seperate from the next (without shared meaning, and a language by which to covey that meaning, memory can be little more than vague images and sensations). Without Instinct to structure human existence, replaced with the less predictable and surely more varied response of a socially constructed individual mind, uncertainty looms large and grows as humans curiosity grows and more questions are asked. In response to that uncertainty, human groups constructed belief systems, including religion, that enabled them to make sense of their situation and to give significance to their lives. And each group of humans constructed their beliefs out of their specific, localized practices and experiential assumptions.

From this perspective of the rise of religion, a group's vision of God(s) is the epitome of what might be described as individual viewpoint or persoective, and limited in its ability to explain away uncertainty. Of course, it is possible that all religions arose from some larger, greater universal truth, the origins of which we don't or can't understand. But we don't know, and as of now, we have no way of knowing. Nevertheless, this takes us back to the question - just which version of God(s) would one expect scientists to speak of? And what happens if scientists from different countries and regions speak, not of a universal God, but the God of their own culture? How does science progress from here? How can a scientist bound to an individual level perspective of God be free to question any and all aspects of what humans can see or theorize? What form of God, as currently available on our planet, allows for full, and unencumbred exploration of all that we think we already know as well as all we don't know?

My choice is to accept that I can not begin to conceptualize a Universal God. I simply don't believe I have the intellectual and practical use of my brain, despite my very respectable IQ, to even guess what a creator(s) of the universes would be. I accept, in fact, that I will never know, although I remain open to the infinite possibilities. I embrace uncertainty, and for years I've reflected on just what certainty I really need to proceed in life; the minimum certainty I need to ground myself, to stand upon and step from as I move From one day to the next.

. There is no question that my consciousness and morals have been shaped by my Sunday School lessons in various Christain denominations in the U.S. But so has my interactions with people around the world, my family and upbringing, and as I've aged, my scholarship and growing knowledge of the world and the surrounding universe. In its simplest form, my basic moral principal is similar to the Christian Golden Rule; its fundamental simplisticity and its inherent support of collectivity and cooperation - the necessary basis of a stable group or society on which all social animals, humans included, are made possible and nurtured. Of course, social groups can create stability through coercion, threat of punishment and the killing of no cooperative individuals, this stability is likely relatively short lived, as it also breeds discontent, anger and violence, all of which work to destroy the social group upon which humans depend.

In sum, I find any criticism of scientist who do not speak of "God" - from whatever perspective- as missing the very point of the distinction between the individual perspective and a greater, more universal orientated perspective. The former is, in many ways, incapable with the latter, and in fact could limit the latter to the point that it ceass to exist. I suspect that unless the human mind becomes more comfortable with uncertainty in life and death, our potential of advancement in knowledge, exploration, and even in peace is lost. For it is from competing individual perspectives that warfare is justified and fought, that weapons of mass destruction are created and hate-based behavior is formed. Furthermore, the availability of conflicting individual/localized perspectives allows those who hunger for power and control to transform differences of perspective into hate, and to use that hate to build a following and access to power.

Instead, I share with many philosophers a vision of the future in which true equality and open discourse provides the means for humans to decrease their dependence on localized truths, to learn to proceed peacefullyans unfettered in the exploration for, and implementation of, knowledge of all things great and small, by accepting a more flexible view that in each moment we act on the basis of the best truth (negotiated and assessed on the basis of strength of evidence and argument) available at the time, while remaining true to those values that support the stability and growth of co-existing human groups and in a complimentary relationship with our environment. We can never achieve this ideal vision completely - at least not in our curent point of human evolution - but by insisting that the ideal be criticqlly revisited time and again, we will come as close as "humanly" possible. Perhaps, in the process, we will find ourselves closer to the source of life and beginning that so many religions attempt to explain.

In response to Rhonda, I believe that the Christian view of God is the universal God. Please remember, I will never call you a heresy because your view of God is contrary to my view. You indicated that are 300 major different religions. How do you think, these different religions could agree that one of them transcends the 299? Listen to this; only the Christian God can declare, "Look unto me, and be ye saved all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isaiah 45 : 22). Would you disagree with me about absolute moral standard? Listen to this; "If there is no absolute moral standard, then one cannot say in a final sense that anything is right or wrong. By absolute we mean that which always applies, that which provides a final or ultimate standard. There must be an absolute if there are to be morals, and there must be an absolute if there are to be real values. If there is no absolute beyond man's ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict. We are merely left with conflicting opinions." - Francis Schaeffer. Absolute standard cannot coexist with uncertainty. Christian belief is anchored on the word of God, the Bible and it talks about certainty of life and death. In order to understand life and death, ye must be born again. You might dismiss this statement as solely based on faith without reason. Please remember Christian the faith involves the totality of ones mind and intellect, and it's logical. Listen to this; "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD..." (Isaiah 1: 18). Rhonda, how would you codify all of man's philosophical ideas to have an absolute moral standard? Tell me Rhonda, can you see your face? Whether one is looking up or looking down from space, the cosmos and the solar systems are all the handiwork of God!

@Dan I understand your sense of certainty , your faith, in your God. but that faith will always prevent you from seeing beyond it. As I've told my students when writing sociological papers, their task is to understand, not judge: the minute they begin to judge with words like should, or right/wrong, the analysis has ended and their ability to understand is limited. Judgement, absolutes, presumptions of truth prevent us from seeng the world through the eyes of others and thus understanding why people do what they do. Instead,mwe begin and end with reaffirmation of what we believe, something we already know. I think the same is true in any exploration into the unknown: if we do not step out of our own ideologies, we can see beyond them.

I do suspect there is a universal morality, and I feel that many, if not most, religions have some element of it - and I think it rests within each of us and our capacity, as humans, to take the perspective of others, show compassion, have empathy. These are the qualities that allow the human, free from the fetters of instinct, to work collectively to create the social group from which and on which our very humanity depends. All living things thrive on balance, inter-connectedness, and mutually rewarding co-existence. The social group is threatened when the balance is disrupted or destroyed. That is why I suggested that some version of the Golden Rule or even Buddhism's practice of loving kindness and compassion. These are pro-social in a sustainable way ( as opposed to building up small group connection through hate) both at small group and global levels.

Unfortunately, when you have 35,000 thousand different religuous groups (Christain and other) all insisting that their God is the true God, eceryonenofnthem absolutely certain that their truth is the TRUTH, we have ready made lines in the sand that hacpve the capacity to cause everything from disagreement to wars, and history is full of examples of this (especially since those in power are quick to use religion for their own political interests).

I don't expect you to be able to see things from my perspective because your belief system is based on faith. I've heard many Christains explain that they do not require proof beyond their own experience, that their religion is based on faith alone (and their own internal sense of peace, or certainty, or relief from fear). That is why, when I read your response, I find that it is based on a rather circular reasoning - you prove that your God is the Real God using religuos text written by other believers. When you cite the Bible, you do so under the assumption that your bible is an indisputable source. Yet from the point of view of the outsider, the bible is no more absolute than your testimony of faith. I know that converts are made through this type of testimony, but it is likely that the appeal is the story being told and the desire for a story, or faith, that will bring comfort. This is a recognized social psychological pattern - humans are frightened by uncertainty, and to quell that fear and bring on the comfort of removing cognitive dissonance, they search for an ideology that fits with other underlying assumptions and/or brings some kind of peace. In that sense, religion of all types can be seen as a pragmatic response to a personal or cognitive problem. The trouble lies in the need for absolute faith and and inability to consider alternatives without threatening that faith. How can you reconcile your faith with any science that may challenge it? In the extreme the threat is simply removed.

As a rule I don't mess with people's religions because I understand how important that faith is to theur daily comfort. The exception is when people attempt to exclude, hurt, or in any way negatively respond to others on the basis of religuos belief. That will always offend me (I'm not saying that is the case here). But personally, I don't need that kind of faith. Or maybe,no have a belief system, one that is come,etely wide open, as I believe indescribed above : I believe there is something greater than humans, maybe a lot of something, and that we have no idea what it is. And I feel that there is no reason for me to worry about it now, as that won't change the reality. I live as best as I can, up to my principles , which are defined by loving kindness and compassion and the belief that I would not want to treat anyone in a way that I myself would not want to be treated. My responsibility during my time on earth is to do what I can to sustain and protect all that we have (regardless of why we have it or who gave it to us, this world and then doodle on it are a wonderful gift) and to do my best to do no harm. I do my best, and leave the rest to that which I can not begin to comprehend.

Rhonda, this is a civil conversation. As a human being, I'm sure you must have made a judgement call in dealing with people. You met a man and you seem to be interested in him, but you later found out that he is wanted by law enforcement. At this point, would who keep him at arms length or have him as a boy friend? As human beings, we can sometimes have empathy with people when they are in trouble with the law. You might not know all the details what got him into trouble. But just knowing that law enforcement is looking for him, I think, it would be sufficient for you to make a judgement call. Therefore, you form an opinion, discern, evaluate so as to make a sound and reasonable decision about your relationship with him. This is what humans to do. The sound and reasonable decision you made is for your own good. "I believe that there is something greater than humans, maybe a lot of something, and that we have no idea what it is". Yes, you are absolutely right, "there is something greater than humans". I believe that a civil conversation is a form of "challenge" that allows a person to evaluate deep held philosophical and religious beliefs and see if they have substance or not! Every human being knows that ideas, behaviors, and beliefs have consequences. We see them every day, but some people still play with it. Rhonda, I'm sure you have traveled by air, by sea, or by road. When you plan to travel by air, by sea, or by road you don't decide at the airport, seaport, or at the bus terminal. You already made a reservation and know your destination before you leave home. However, would you be worry to fly in an airplane with pilots and crew members with conflicting opinions about the engines and weather conditions? Would you be worry to sail on a ship without a captain? Would you be worry to fly into an airport without a control tower? Would you be worry about nurses and doctors with conflicting opinions to administer drugs to a member of your family? If you are not worried about any of the above scenarios, you know that the consequences will always be fatal! Like everybody else, I consider myself to be a good person and try to do the best I can everyday. However, I've fallen short time after time and I've not been able to live up to my own principles. Therefore, the question every human being ought to ask is; Can I present myself faultless before a Holy God? If the answer is no, then one has to do due diligence to find out and know one's destiny before death!

Dark matter fascinates me like nothing else. It can't be directly experienced by us or measured and yet I believe it cause most of the visible matter to behave the way it does. Dark matter is like a subconscious mind of the Universe. Not visible, not measurable but influencing everything in an indirect kind of way. Makes me think how often in life things that are the least obvious are in fact the very cause of 80% and more of the results we get.
Fascinating.
I love everything Lisa Randall comes up with. Such a brilliant mind!

I agree with you Angela .
Could 'dark matter'=God. ?

Good on you, Lisa Randall. Having met with Stephen Hawking in Cambridge in 1986 just prior to his finishing up Brief History, briefly met Philip Morrison & his wife at a science teachers' confab in D.C., and corresponded with Carl Sagan a couple of times on behalf of students, I wish to place you in the First Rank of citizen-scientists who have deigned to descend the steps of the temple and try to convey the absolute wonder and magnificence of our world as informed by one who sees deeply into its secrets.

Having constructed my own, sort of, 'ontological' argument for an all-pervasive, non-isotropic substrate energy for my own amusement years ago, I've often had the task of responding to students' , parents' and school administrators' questions about ultimate matters. You no doubt have your favorite 'elevator talk' for those who come with their bible guns fully loaded. I would just offer anyone who reads this two possible and kind-hearted rejoinders for those folks whose approach is often neither kind-hearted nor, truly, sincere in their search for knowledge.

Rejoinder 1: "You tell me what your definition of the word 'god' is and I'll tell you if I agree with it."
Rejoinder 2: The Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945) began his fine book An Inquiry into the Good with "We call the foundation of the universe God." As one with at least a formative background in physics & cosmology, Kitaro's succinct definition serves reasonably well for many who seem to need to put that 3-letter word into the mix.

Thank you Dr. Randall for all you do... and will do. Thank you Ms. Tippett for airing your colloquy with L.R.

I truly enjoyed this interview and found it refreshing. Professor Randall spoke with thoughtfulness, clarity, and ease that is rare. I wanna be like her when I grow up. For me, it really cement the idea that science and religion are not these great divides in which you can have one or the other. I truly believe that science and religion are tools for us to use to understand the world/universe that we live in. This interview really demonstrates that science can explain the possibility of a Creator, souls, and another world after death. Hey if there can be dark matter/transparent matter or other dimensions, then why can't there be a Creator, souls, or heaven that our scientific instruments cannot detect yet. I'm just saying.

This was a revealing, thought-provoking, and challenging conversation with Lisa Randall. Her intellect was startling. I thought the program was one of the best ever.

Bob

I enjoy listening to scientists talk about what motivates them and how they view nature and the universe as well as the scientific advancements. I like how Dr. Randall explains scientific problems aren't unfathomably difficult, just hard. "It doesn’t make it impossible." To a layman her quote nailed it on the head. That mindset that nothing is impossible. Before airplanes some people would have said a flying machine is impossible. Now humans can travel into space.

I agree with what she says of reality. Our reality is largely based on our senses. However our senses are subjective, they can deceive us and will degrade as we age. The purpose of physics is to find the laws of natural phenomena that will always be fact regardless of the observer. Theoretical physicists have gone deeper and deeper in the subatomic level to finding fundamental laws within all the subatomic particles, fundamental forces, and mechanics. Also really cool is the extra dimensional hypothesis she spoke of where we're just living on one brane or plane of reality. That's a brilliant way to look at our existence. I imagine the universe isn't just a seemingly endless physical space filled with matter and energy, but also as an abstract idea where our reality on Earth is just one of many simultaneous realities that could exist.

As much as scientists do know about the universe they realize and often remark they more they don't know. With dark matter as Dr. Randall explains they are still at a very early point of understanding what it's made of since it doesn't interact with light and therefore can't be directly detected. What they do know it's a form of matter that makes up a far greater percentage of galaxies than matter built on atoms. Dark matter fundamentally isn't an anomaly. From dark matter's point of view which is everywhere all around us we would be the anomaly. In the stage scientists are in studying dark matter it would really be exiting to hypothesize on and I admire Dr. Randall's enthusiasm in her work.

I agree with some of the others that Dr. Randall's attitude and the scientific community for the most part will let religion and philosophers answer the why questions and the meaning to our place in the universe.

In considering the existence of such a vast and unknown part of the universe, I see another reason why it is absurd to imagine that we as humans know what is best for the world, or indeed have any say in how it conducts its affairs in the first place.

Everything is interconnected but our day-to-day perception is limited. How are we supposed to untangle it all if we're ruled by the unseen just as much (or more) as the seen? Maybe the point isn't to reach the ultimate answer but just to explore and marvel. Nothing like talking about particles and extra dimensions and 35 million year cycles to provide some perspective on humans in the grand scheme of the universe.

It's fascinating to consider the parallels between modern scientific discoveries and ancient religious thought. Are these sub-atomic particles and contents of dark matter the same as the Buddhist "kalapa" -- the smallest particle which creates all other matter--thought up thousands of years ago? Discovery happens on the microscopic and macroscopic level -- both internally and externally. Like dark matter, it's often more difficult to sense the most prolific parts and patterns of our nature.

It's interesting to think what would happen if human's ever found the universal answer to life and the universe. I feel that if we ever reached that point, there may be nothing left to discover or drive us. It's more about the journey than it is about the end goal. This is where both science and religion tend to come in. They are both journey's that attempt to explain the universe, and sometimes intermingle in the many stories of explanation. It's interesting that to basic human need we don't need to find the answers, but for some reason our natural curiosity drives us.

Very interesting to learn how much less "regular matter" there is than dark matter. When you only experience regular matter, You get to thinking that its pretty common.

apples