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Two answers from Lisa Randall November 9, 2006

Posted by dorigo in books, internet, mathematics, news, physics, science.

The online chat with Lisa Randall organized today by www.discover.com was conveniently placed for me just after dinner, 8-9PM in Italy, and just before a phone conference with the CDF meeting of the top quark group, where Julien was due to show the status of our analysis of the Z->bb signal. 

So, having been invited to attend (see https://dorigo.wordpress.com/2006/11/07/a-chat-with-lisa-randall/ ), I thought I would indeed give it a peek. I connected to the site and was presented with a pretty basic interface, where I could type in questions that would go to a moderator. The moderator would then turn the most interesting or useful questions to Lisa, who would answer them one after the other. Very clean, a bit aseptyc, but I understand the importance of avoiding background noise. The chat had probably the goal to promote Lisa’s latest book, but objectively speaking that was discussed fairly little.

In the end, I asked six questions, two of which passed the filter (the first one just seconds before I called it quits, forcing me to cancel the sentence I was about to submit about my time being wasted there) of the moderator (nicknamed famous below) and got submitted to Lisa. Here are my two questions and the ensuing answer(s).

famous: There seems to be some some money riding on the thoughts in this question, so I’ll jump to that one.
qd_survivor: Dr. Randall, recently I placed a 1000$ bet on my blog, that LHC experiments will not see 5-sigma discrepancies from the Standard Model, with two colleagues (an experimentalist working at the D0 experiment, and a string theorist, your colleague Jacques Distler). What side of the bet would you pick ? Would you bet on large extra dimensions being found at LHC in two years of running ?
Lisa Randall: That wasn’t one side of the bet as I understand it. I’d bet we’ll see something new. We have good reasons to believe the Standard Model is not all there is (again, described so excellently in my book:)). Extra dimensions and the kind of warped dimension I describe is definitely one of the possibilities. I’d say there is a finite but hardly 100 % chance this is what we’ll find. But a finite probability is pretty high in my book. If you want to make the bet about seeing something I’m definitely in.
famous: Huh. Maybe Discover.com has a future as a science-prediction bookie…
Lisa Randall: Is that legal?
famous: We can ferret our earnings away to extra dimensions. We digress…

After a while I got past the attention threshold of the moderator with this question: 

qd_survivor: Dr. Randall, does your work bring you to browse through the blogosphere of physicists and mathematicians ? That seems to be a very fertile ground for lively discussions lately. Of course in part a waste of time, but in part also a birthplace of new ideas and of continuous development. What do you think about that?
Lisa Randall: You won’t like this answer but I don’t really find I get new ideas there–at least ones that are likely to be right. The fact is I have too little time to work on my own stuff these days so I have to go with high probability paths. These topics are difficult and it’s just more likely that people who do physics for a living will come up with good ideas. Sorry if I’ve alienated half the readers here.
famous: I think the question was about professional physicists’ blogs.
famous: [I don’t think the readers would be insulted — you’re the physicist!]

Lisa Randall: Well as far as that goes, I know the physicists, I go to talks, and I read the papers. So th blogs are morefor the pbulic domain. The nonphysicists are the only people on the blog sites that I wouldn’t be familiar with already.

Well. Ok… The answers I got did not deepen my knowledge on KK towers or branes or strings. But it was fun… Kind of. I am slightly disappointed, though, since my other questions, the ones that were discarded by the moderator were more interesting in my opinion.  But who has ever totally agreed to the choices of a chat moderator, being on the loose end of a line ?

You can get the full transcript of the chat at the following link:



1. Bee - November 9, 2006

Thanks for providing the transcript. Sitting on the east coast, I found the time for the chat rather stupidly picked. What were your other questions? I’ve put a link to your site, I hope you don’t mind:

Lisa Randall on Discover



2. riqie arneberg - November 10, 2006

The moderator seemed more interested in inane personality questions than anything to do with physics! These eggheads are more in love with their (un)lovely mathmatecs formulae than in whether their theory has anything to do with the real world.

In my book, the standard model has no serious challenges as yet.

3. Kea - November 10, 2006

Thanks! This is sooooo funny! Did you see the bet on my blog?

4. dorigo - November 11, 2006

Hi Kea, I did look at it… But 1 to 1000 bets are really not bets, just jokes!
I liked your blog, will come back soon.

5. dorigo - November 11, 2006

Hi Riqie,

well you must give credit where it is due. Even if one finds questionable the choice of topics, the problem of physics outreach is so hard to tackle that any honest attempt has to be praised for whatever is worth…


6. dorigo - November 11, 2006

Bee, you’re very welcome…And thanks (publicly here, already did it privately) for the link in your powerful blog. I linked it now.


7. My censored questions to Lisa « A Quantum Diaries Survivor - November 12, 2006

[…] In fact, in a post I wrote a few days ago after the chat  (https://dorigo.wordpress.com/2006/11/09/two-answers-from-lisa-randall/) I had the bad idea of mentioning that I asked a total of six questions, and only two of those were turned to Dr. Randall by the moderator. With my usual sneaky lack of modesty I also sort of suggested that the ones which were left out of the chat were actually the most interesting. Now, I have to come clean, since pressure is mounting… […]

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