Physicist Lisa Randall joins Vail Symposium on Feb. 23
With compelling and accessible anecdotes, Lisa Randall brings abstract ideas into practical terms. By investigating how the universe, galaxy and solar system evolved, she shares new ideas of how life on Earth emerged.
Randall, a professor at Harvard University who studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology, will join the Vail Symposium on Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Vail Interfaith Chapel for a presentation called “Science + Creativity = Innovation.”
When James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, they were not pursuing a cure for cancer. Yet without their pursuit of scientific discovery, we wouldn’t have the therapies that are saving lives today. When Neils Bohr’s theory about the structure of the atom led to quantum theory, he had no way of knowing his revelations would lead to the electronics revolution and that, in 2023, each of us would carry a battery-powered electronic device in our pockets. For centuries, life-altering innovations have resulted from scientific exploration and imaginative creativity.
“Lisa Randall is a rockstar of the scientific world,” Vail Symposium executive director James Kenly said. “She shares her study of both the smallest objects in the universe (particle physics) and the largest (cosmology) with a quick wit and accessible storytelling to demystify the process of innovation that many of us take for granted.”
By understanding elusive dark matter and dark energy, a new theory emerges about the demise of the dinosaurs. Subsequently, not all ideas look into the past: Theories of general relativity and special relativity enabled the development of satellites that drive the Global Positioning System that power the maps app on your phone. Curious scientists pursuing a deeper understanding of how the universe works have unlocked a myriad of enhancements for future generations.
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This presentation explains our past and inspires our future. From climate change and our food system to infrastructure and health care, the significant challenges facing humanity require innovations borne of science and creativity.
Randall’s research connects theoretical insights to puzzles in our current understanding of the properties and interactions of matter. She has developed and studied a wide variety of models to address these questions, the most prominent involving extra dimensions of space.
She has appeared on Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” of 2007, in conversation with Bill Nye at the 92nd Street Y, and on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. Her work was recognized on the New York Times’ list of 100 Notable Books of the Year and by the Wall Street Journal as “a cracking read, combining storytelling of the highest order with a trove of information.”
Randall earned her PhD from Harvard University and held professorships at MIT and Princeton University before returning to Harvard in 2001. She is also the recipient of honorary degrees from Brown University, Duke University, Bard College, and the University of Antwerp.