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Summary

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.

©2016 Janna Levin (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"This is a beautifully written account of the quest to open the 'gravitational-wave window' onto our universe, and use it to explore our universe's warped side: black holes and other phenomena made from warped spacetime. As a participant in this wonderful quest, I applaud Janna Levin for capturing so well our vision, our struggles, and the ethos and spirit of our torturous route toward success." (Kip Thorne, author of The Science of Interstellar)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Well told stories of experimental pursuits

easy on the ears, facts with the flow of storytelling, and a peek into the "old boys club" of physics

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  • Linda
  • 06-07-16

Exceptional Story of Black Holes Colliding--Listen

Wow! I saw an interview on PBS news hour with the author and decided that such a significant event as hearing two black holes merge had to be an interesting read. Believe me, it was and I am not a scientist. Janna Levin is a scientist but she is also a wonderful interpreter of complex information, shares an ability to describe complex scientists, and allow the reader to understand the politics and frustration of being one of a very few people who can perceive this concept. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in November 1916 and a few scientists wanted to build a device to capture the event...if in fact there was such an event. After much political arguments, changes of the guard, and lots of ego battles, two receptors were built. One in Louisiana and one in Washington. The two had been fully locked in place only a few weeks, when the wave came. The fact was kept secret until it could be verified, and re-verified, and then published. The chirp of the two black holes merging was captured. You can hear the chirp if you research black hole mergers on the Internet. This is a remarkable piece of writing and I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about this major scientific event. Makes you wonder what more is out there in space. Let's keep looking. Now that Juno is circling Jupiter, who knows what we will find. I listened to the author read the book on Audible and recommend it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Concerned small-D democrat
  • 03-07-16

Will bring you to tears in places

This is a wonderful book about one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time, written by a physicist who has been following the work for years before the successful culmination.

The personal stories of the scientists are almost as engaging as the scientific story.

And Dr. Levin's prose is at times so eloquent and moving it can bring you to tears. At some points I almost thought Carl Sagan wad whispering in her ear.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Harry Amadeo
  • 12-04-17

Pretty good

Narrator a bit monotone but good anyways. The story was great, too. Amazing how much work went into LIGO.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Choate
  • 17-11-16

Boring and Tedious, But give a unique perspective

The Ligo Gravity Wave Detector is an awesome feat of human engineering. It has successfully recorded the collision and merger of two black holes approximately 20 and 30 solar masses (the mass of Sol, our Sun). I felt it was too wordy and verbose without actually saying much. It was more of a who's who on the IFO (Interferometer) , and has much less technical and scientific information. That's why I didn't like it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • jeanne c.
  • 21-05-17

quick study on interferometry and black holes

do not need to know more than intro to physics. shows the trials and tribulations of academia but that the quest for knowledge and the addiction of conviction overcome human frailty. knowledge on built in the shoulders of others who look like Giants because they are standing on those before them. collaboration is key in the scientific community.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • C Killam
  • 23-12-17

No mo black hole blues

Janna Levin is a superstar and made this read one of the best. Now I know a tiny bit more and I can't edit to hear more.

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  • Zoey
  • 21-12-16

It just flows so nicely

It was comforting. It was informative. It was beautifully written. The pace of the reader was right on the mark.

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  • Fabio Azeredo
  • 25-10-16

Write more books Janna!

I love Janna Levin but enjoyed her previous book more. I just wish she'd done more of the speculative comment she devoted herself to in the two final chapters instead of detailing the story of the men who made it happen.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim Cowan
  • 02-10-16

Optional, but, Required?

Enjoyed listening to this book. Also like the idea that the author narrated. There are some dry spots, but if you are at all interested in astrological history making events, this should be a listen you might enjoy as well. I truly enjoyed the prologue... you'll know why when you listen.

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  • Barrett
  • 27-02-18

Amazing content - Snooze fest narration

I was sooooo looking forward to this book. The tale of not only celestial bodies, but distinct and fascinating personalities, all circling each other to create one of the most fascinating moments in science history. That's the problem, the content SHOULD be interesting, and it is certainly ornamentally and well written, but the narration is so flatline that it sucks the energy out of everything.

You could say, almost like a black hole. These moments of intense scientific drama or massive cosmic collisions are delivered with no inflection in the same monotone as all the other minute details of the book. It's just boring as all get out, and I found myself just aching to get through it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful