Marcia Bartusiak and Lisa Randall: Science and Creativity

WED, APR 7, 2010 (1:21:10)

Marcia Bartusiak and Lisa Randall explore the creative inspiration involved in scientific research and science writing.

Marcia Bartusiak is an acclaimed science journalist, and has written a number of books on the history of science. Her most recent book, The Day We Found the Universe, describes the day in 1925 when 35-year-old Edwin Hubble announced the observation that ultimately established that our universe was a thousand trillion times larger than previously believed, filled with myriad galaxies like our own. This discovery dramatically reshaped how humans understood their place in the cosmos, and once and for all laid to rest the idea that the Milky Way galaxy was alone in the universe. Six years later, continuing research by Hubble and others forced Albert Einstein to renounce his own cosmic model and finally accept the astonishing fact that the universe was not immobile but instead expanding.

Lisa Randall is both a writer and an expert in particle physics and string theory who has done groundbreaking work on the physics that lies beyond the so-called "Standard Model of particle physics," including theories about extra dimensions of space. Her most recent book, Warped Passages, takes us into the incredible world of warped, hidden dimensions that underpin the universe we live in, describing how we might prove their existence, while examining the questions that they still leave unanswered. It provides an overview that tracks the arc of discovery from early 20th century physics to the razor's edge of today's particle physics and string theory, unweaving the current debates about relativity, quantum mechanics, and gravity.

+ BIO: Marcia Bartusiak

Combining her skills as a journalist with an advanced degree in physics, Marcia Bartusiak (pronounced MAR-sha Bar-TOO-shack) has been covering the fields of astronomy and physics for three decades. Currently, she is an adjunct professor with the Graduate Program in Science Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bartusiak is the author of Thursday's Universe, a layman's guide to the frontiers of astrophysics and cosmology, Through a Universe Darkly, a history of astronomers' centuries-long quest to discover the universe's composition, and Einstein's Unfinished Symphony, about the on-going attempt to detect gravity waves, the last experimental test of Einstein's theory of general relativity. All three were named notable science books by The New York Times. She also co-authored A Positron Named Priscilla, a National Academy of Sciences book on cutting-edge science.

Her research, while getting her master's degree at Old Dominion University, involved the effects of radiation on materials sent into space as parts of orbiting astronomical observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Ultraviolet Explorer.

+ BIO: Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall is an American theoretical physicist and a leading expert on particle physics and cosmology. She works on several of the competing models of string theory in the quest to explain the fabric of the universe, and was the first tenured woman in the Princeton University physics department and the first tenured female theoretical physicist at MIT and Harvard University.

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