WarpedIt didn’t take long after I started writing that I figured out if I was going to set the story in the distant future, I needed to understand some of the theories about the universe. After reading many books on bubble universes, multi-universes, and string theory, I found Dr. Randall’s theories most satisfying. Her book, Warped Passages, was one of the first books I read and is filled with my notes, underlines, and turned-down pages. What made her views click is that she is a “model builder.” She builds theories from the bottom up. This means she starts with observable scientific facts in particle physics, within the framework of the Standard Model, and attempts to extrapolate from a firm footing. For a former financial analyst who modeled out the finances of public companies, I very much appreciated the methodology.

Her book is an effort to tie particle physics with string theory. String theory is elegant mathematics but has also been portrayed as “castles in the sky” due to its lack of relationship to anything observable. Dr. Randall developed the theory of branes, named after their membrane-like structure. Basically, the theory argues our three or four (if you include time) dimensional reality is a brane within a multi-dimensional bulk. This allowed Dr. Randall to explain why gravity is so weak in our universe, when the standard model argues it should be much stronger.

As a writer, this theory literally gave me a rich topography of the universe with which to play. It also was a very approachable theory for someone who is not a mathematician, offering an easy way to visualize the universe. To recognize the book’s impact on my writing, I named the main ship in the story the USS Randall.