Mei Fong / One Child -- Ellen Malcolm / When Women Win -- John Perkins / The New Confessions of An Economic Hit Man -- Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman / Nation on the Take -- Chris Anderson / TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking -- Sean Carroll / The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself -- Janna Levin / Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space
Tuesday, June 21
BLACK HOLE BLUES AND OTHER SONGS FROM OUTER SPACE
On Thursday, February 11th, the National Science Foundation made a thrilling announcement: gravitational waves—first predicted by Einstein as part of his general theory of relativity in 1916—had been detected for the first time. This incredible development made front page news and was reported by outlets across the country.
But this is just the end of the story. How was such a remarkable discovery, a long hundred years after Einstein’s prediction, made possible?
Black Hole Blues, by astrophysicist and award-winning writer Janna Levin, tells the epic story of the scientific campaign to record these waves—the holy grail of modern cosmology. A handful of physicists, led by Kip Thorne and Ronald Drever at Caltech and Rainer Weiss at MIT, have been working nearly their entire careers to conceive of, design, and build an instrument sensitive enough to detect gravitational waves. In 1994, construction began in two United States sites on LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory), and just last fall, in September 2015, Advanced LIGO began its first observing run.
Levin delves into the lives and fates of the scientists, painting compelling portraits of these very human visionaries. She journeys from Los Angeles to Boston, to the LIGO interferometers in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana, to the labs, offices, and observatories where the work in this great quest has painstakingly unfolded over the past five decades. Her account of the personalities, surprises, setbacks, and successes is a compelling and intimate portrait of the people and processes of modern science.
Janna Levin is a professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. She is also director of sciences at Pioneer Works, a center for arts and sciences in Brooklyn, and has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. Her previous books include How the Universe Got Its Spots and a novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham Prize. She was recently named a Guggenheim fellow.
“As a participant in this wonderful quest, I applaud Janna Levin for capturing so well our vision, our struggles, and the ethos and spirit of our torturous route toward success.”
-- Kip Thorne, LIGO co-founder and the author of The Science of Interstellar
6/21/16 7:30 PM at the Hillside Club (2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley)
Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets online or 800-838-3006