The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Janna Levin ’88. The book tells the stories of the physicists and engineers who envisioned remarkable experiments in gravitational wave detection and the evolution of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).
John Gribbin, the reviewer, praises Levin’s focus on the personalities of the scientists, Rai Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Ron Drever, who set out to capture the gravitational waves from black hole collisions:
“Ms. Levin is herself a scientist, which explains her access, but more than that she is a writer rather than a scientist who writes. Her book touches only lightly upon the nuts and bolts of the theory and technology, but it contains enough to satisfy the reader’s interest in how such measurements can be made. It is more about the people, personalities and politics involved in getting such an expensive and long-gestating (four decades and counting) project to fruition.”
Levin, a PEN/Bingham Fellowship winner and a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow, began teaching physics and astronomy at Barnard in 2004. In addition to her research publications, she is the author of the novel and popular science book How the Universe Got its Spots: Diary of Finite Time in a Finite Space (Anchor, 2003).