Black holes are dark. That’s their essence. That’s the defining feature that earned them a name. They are dark against a dark sky. They are a shadow against a bright sky. A telescope has never found one unadorned. Bare black holes – those too solitary to tear down sufficient debris – in their obliterating darkness are practically impossible to observe, but not entirely impossible. In this Silver Science Lecture, Janna Levin will describe the aspiration to detect black holes (and other cataclysmic events) that culminated in the discovery of the century: The first human-procured recordings of a gravitational-wave sound from the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago.
Janna Levin is the Tow Professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University, and has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. She is also director of sciences at Pioneer Works, and was recently named a Guggenheim fellow.
Registration is preferred but not required.