Lisa Randall, physicist and author, is on this weekend’s edition of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. Depending on your local station you may be able to listen to her on Sunday, if you missed her today. It is, of course, also available online. As is the case with most celebrity guests on Wait Wait, she was there to answer questions quite unrelated to her expertise in a segment called Not My Job.
Randall is currently promoting her book Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, which uses a theory about the extinction of the dinosaurs to explain the current state of understanding of dark matter. Randall was about to get into the specifics of this theory when host Peter Sagal took the conversation deep into the idea of dark matter. As distractions go, it was quite a pleasant one, and since Randall’s book is more about dark matter than the dinosaurs, I doubt she minded.
Randall did note on Twitter that some of the discussion was cut – likely for time. Maybe they did explain the dinosaur part of this and just cut it for broadcast. Also of interest is the conversation around how Randall dealt with being a woman earning a Ph.D. in a predominantly male field. (And I think the panel nails how certain scientists would deal with a ‘sexiest scientist’ designation.)
I recommend Wait Wait for a regular listen. It doesn’t have a science guest every week, but panelists frequently question the methodology of various studies used as question fodder. It’s a nice reminder that simple bullet points for explaining scientific studies are hard.