"The portal to the fifth dimension, sadly, is closed.
There used to be an ice cream parlor in the student center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And it was there, in the summer of 1998, that Lisa Randall, now a professor of physics at Harvard and a bit of a chocoholic, and Raman Sundrum, a professor at Johns Hopkins, took an imaginary trip right out of this earthly plane into a science fiction realm of parallel universes, warped space and otherworldly laws of physics.
They came back with a possible answer to a question that has tormented scientists for decades, namely why gravity is so weak compared with the other forces of nature: in effect, we are borrowing it from another universe. In so doing, Dr. Randall and Dr. Sundrum helped foment a revolution in the way scientists think about string theory - the vaunted 'theory of everything' - raising a glimmer of hope that coming experiments may actually test some of its ineffable sounding concepts.
Their work undermined well-worn concepts like the idea that we can even know how many dimensions of space we live in, or the reality of gravity, space and time.
The work has also made a star and an icon of Dr. Randall. The attention has been increased by the recent publication to laudatory reviews of her new book, 'Warped Passages, Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions,' A debate broke out on the physics blog Cosmic Variance a few weeks ago about whether it was appropriate, as a commentator on NPR had said, to say looked like Jodie Foster."