Let’s get this right out of the way: yes, Cosmic Variance did make its first appearance in the New York Times. We get a passing mention in Dennis Overbye’s article about Lisa Randall, for Clifford’s justified annoyance at Ira Flatow’s remarks on Science Friday about Lisa’s appearance rather than her science.
The NYT profile is a good one, managing to mix the personal with the scientific in a more interesting (and less objectionable) way. And they always do a nice job with the graphics; here is their version of the Randall-Sundrum brane-world construction. (Click to enlarge.)
Randall-Sundrum (versions one and two) is a great idea, one that I hope to discuss at length at some point. The basic notion is to have two three-branes (a three-brane has three dimensions of space and one of time) separated by a five-dimensional bulk that is highly curved. The nice feature is that the curvature acts not only on stuff passing through the bulk itself, but also works to rescale energies on one brane in relation to the other. So, what appears naturally to be very high-energy on one brane can be naturally low-energy on the other. This idea may help to explain the huge discrepancy (fifteen or so orders of magnitude) between the typical energy scales of particle physics (about one trillion electron volts, or one TeV) and that of gravity (the Planck scale, 1015 TeV).
But all the publicity, of course, is currently associated with Lisa’s new book more than with any recent breakthroughs. As predicted, I’ve written a review of Warped Passages, along with Michio Kaku’s book Parallel Worlds, which has now appeared in American Scientist. You’ll see that these are very different books, and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which I liked better. The holidays are coming — if there’s nobody in your family you like enough to get them my book or Clifford’s, you wouldn’t go wrong buying them Lisa’s.