Janna Levin, the Tow professor of physics and astronomy, is a theoretical physicist who studies the origins of the universe. The 2012 Guggenheim Fellow and best-selling author most recently of Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space (Knopf, 2016) is credited with contributing to a greater understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime.

Prof. Levin recently ventured into another physics conundrum, dark matter, in an animated video highlighted on Space.com. The brief video, illustrated by artist Daniela Sherer, features Prof. Levin explaining dark matter as defined by what it isn’t: “We can’t see it but we can tell it’s out there because of the effect it has on space and time.” Some scientists argue it should be called “invisible matter” as it can’t be seen, but it does have a gravitational impact. Learn more about dark matter below.


Prof. Levin was also recognized by Brooklyn magazine as one of the borough’s 100 top influencers for her involvement with Pioneer Works, a center for research and experimentation based in Red Hook. Janna Levin is Director of Sciences for the collaborative space, which aims to bring together artists, musicians, scientists, and educators. “Science is part of culture,” Prof. Levin told the magazine. “And that’s my mission, to see science thrive as part of culture.”

Reflecting her interest in the intersection of culture and science, Prof. Levin appeared on CUNY-TV’s Science Goes to the Movies to opine on The Man Who Knew Infinity, a film about the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, and assess the depiction of black holes in Interstellar—as no one has ever seen one.

Lede image photo credit: Maggie Shannon