"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.”
Throughout her career, astrophysicist Janna Levin has focused on making the science she studies not just accessible, but, perhaps more important, intriguing to the nonscientist. And that is what she has done again here, helping us to understand the black hole: perhaps the most opaque theoretical construct ever imagined by physicists. She explains how their existence came to be proven decades after they were first predicted in Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity. And she explores the ways in which what we know about them has changed our most basic understanding of the galaxy, the universe, the whole expanse of reality that we inhabit. Lively, engaging and utterly unique, Black Hole Survival Guide is not just informative. It is as well, a wonderful read from first to last.