Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space
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The authoritative story of the headline-making discovery of gravitational waves—by an eminent theoretical astrophysicist and award-winning writer.
From the author of How the Universe Got Its Spots and A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, the epic story of the scientific campaign to record the soundtrack of our universe.
Black holes are dark. That is their essence. When black holes collide, they will do so unilluminated. Yet the black hole collision is an event more powerful than any since the origin of the universe. The profusion of energy will emanate as waves in the shape of spacetime: gravitational waves. No telescope will ever record the event; instead, the only evidence would be the sound of spacetime ringing. In 1916, Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, his top priority after he proposed his theory of curved spacetime. One century later, we are recording the first sounds from space, the soundtrack to accompany astronomy’s silent movie.
In Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, Janna Levin recounts the fascinating story of the obsessions, the aspirations, and the trials of the scientists who embarked on an arduous, fifty-year endeavor to capture these elusive waves. An experimental ambition that began as an amusing thought experiment, a mad idea, became the object of fixation for the original architects—Rai Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Ron Drever. Striving to make the ambition a reality, the original three gradually accumulated an international team of hundreds. As this book was written, two massive instruments of remarkably delicate sensitivity were brought to advanced capability. As the book draws to a close, five decades after the experimental ambition began, the team races to intercept a wisp of a sound with two colossal machines, hoping to succeed in time for the centenary of Einstein’s most radical idea. Janna Levin’s absorbing account of the surprises, disappointments, achievements, and risks in this unfolding story offers a portrait of modern science that is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
--> Also by Janna Levin A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines How the Universe Got Its Spots THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF Copyright � 2016 by Janna Levin All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, and distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited, Toronto. www.aaknopf.com Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of.
Intuit without recourse to ordinary logic no doubt lent that extra magical aura to his reputation as a genius, so that others felt a bit prosaic for their habit of actually calculating from a supposition all the way to a conclusion. But there was an incapacity associated with Ron’s disposition too. By all accounts, Ron would release a deluge of ideas on his team each new day. Ideas were abundant. But decisions were scarce. The next day, the joy of unhindered exploration would begin anew, and he.
Someone say, “We better ask Rai.” “So Kip was still in there; I mean, he had to.” Kip tried to hold them together, to balance the egos and the authority so that the peculiar combination of personalities might combine effectively. He recommended different domains of authority, gave them equally important titles, like chief scientist in charge of this or chief scientist of that. Kip’s arbitration was facilitated by his unflappable temperament and by his personal computer. He was the only one with.
Standing up, simultaneously trying to reach Gaby González at LLO. He finally said to those on the telecon, “This was not a blind injection.” The voice of Alan Weinstein from Caltech came on the line: “Mike…can you say that again?” — In mid-December 2015, I receive an e-mail from David Reitze, the director of LIGO. The subject line: “CONFIDENTIAL communication about LIGO.” The message reads, “On September 14, the two LIGO interferometers recorded a signal consistent with the inspiral and merger.
Series of interviews between 2013 and 2015. Giaime, Joe. Interviews by the author. From a series of interviews between 2013 and 2015. Barish, Barry. Interviews by the author. From a series of interviews between 2013 and 2015. 16. THE RACE IS ON Vogt, Rochus. Interview by the author, 2014. Thorne, Kip. Interviews by the author. From a series of interviews between 2013 and 2015. Weiss, Rainer. Interviews by the author. From a series of interviews between 2013 and 2015. Hough, James.