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Monday, January 2, 2017


I recently read Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin (2016).

My friends who are science nerds will love this book.  JL details the history of the development of the interferometer.  The what?  An interferometer is a device that "listens" to outer space for the telltale signs of ripples in space-time (that concept Einstein introduced) called gravitational waves.  Yes, space and time can experience ripples (like water on a pond);  those gravitational wave ripples, however, are not the result of a tossed pebble, but rather, the cataclysmic derivative of two black holes swallowing each other up or two neutron stars colliding or a massive star exploding.  What's more is that when an interferometer detects those ripples, the triggering event likely occurred over a billion light years ago.  Wow!  Out there kind of stuff, huh? 

JL describes for us the jealousy, competition, and chicanery between scientists in pursuit of this dream machine, the jealousy, competition, and chicanery of institutions vying for the acclaim of first producer of said device, and the jealousy, competition, and chicanery between governments which have their own malicious motives.  

And, for my friends who are language loving nerds, JL beautifully crafts sentences and paragraphs that are most appealing to those other-side-of-the-brain dispositioned folks (unlike most science geeks).  I know, I know - sweeping generalizations.

Excellent book (regardless of your brain tilt).

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