Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space: Black Holes and the Quest to Hear the Invisible (English Edition) –

Le he dado 3 estrellas porque la edicin del libro es un poco, cmo decirlo, rstica en el mejor de los casos Las hojas estn mal cortadas y el papel es spero He intentado averiguar si se trata de alguna tcnica antigua de encuadernacin pero no encuentro nada, y desde luego deberan avisarlo De todos modos, el texto es ameno y sorprendente No lo recomendara para un regalo a no ser que se conozca muy bien a la otra persona. I probably had the wrong expectations when I ordered this book I was looking for a popular treatment of the science of black holes and gravity waves This book is mainly about the personalities of the people involved in the detection of gravity waves It discusses their personalities, foibles, and conflicts at great and sometimes repetitive and tedious length That said, it did give me a feel for the history of science and how it lurches forward both because of and in spite of the people who practice it, and the parts that discuss the science are well done and sometimes downright inspiring. A few weeks ago the world of science was rattled and rattled seems like the right word by the discovery of gravitational waves, a culmination of Einstein s general theory of relativity which the great man predicted a hundred years ago The waves came from the collision of two black holes, an event of woefully cataclysmic magnitude, releasing energy billions of trillions of times that produced by the sun.And yet astonishingly, the collision registered here on earth in the form of a tremor so slight as to defy imagination, a tremor displacing a giant mirror located in desert scrubland by no than a thousandth of the width of a proton In this book author and physicist Janna Levin tells us the story of the history of that event, the machinery that went into its almost imperceptible detection and most importantly, the human beings who made this discovery possible.The book shines mainly in two aspects Firstly, being a physicist herself Levin brings an authoritative touch to explaining the science behind gravitational wave detection Both the history of the field as well as its present incarnations get due credit The list of topics Levin touches on encompass such astronomical anomalies as neutrons and pulsars, intense x rays from outer space and black holes themselves as well as earthly accomplishments such as laser interferometers, radio telescopes and advanced electronics Brilliant scientists like John Wheeler, Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer who worked on relativity and black holes make frequent appearances Both theory and experiment get a nod, and it s clear that the best science involves both abstract theorizing as well as expert craftsmanship and engineering.It helps a lot that Levin has access to both LIGO the observatory where the waves were detected as well as many other institutions like MIT and Caltech which spearheaded the effort, and she visits the labs in these places and gives us a glimpse of the rough hewn, often informal, often necessarily tedious work of actual science done by graduate students and postdocs There are accounts of walking tours of the installations and stories of encounters with spiders and rats and with bass that showed up out of nowhere in one of the ditches near the equipment There is mention of all kinds of quirky factors which can derail the extreme sensitivity of the mirrors, from earthquakes in China to the Moon s gravity This is science at its string and sealing wax best I would note however that the scientific history and explanations of the complex machinery involved in gravitational wave detection don t constitute the strongest part of the book the details can sometimes be spare and the history doesn t really go too deep The writing can also sometimes get a bit stilted.What makes the book unique in my opinion instead and different from many other popular physics volumes is the second aspect which gives us an excellent insider s look at the human aspects of science This part of the book should dispel any illusions about science being an impersonal, objective, linear and logical endeavor Instead we meet scientists who are subject to bouts of jealousy, who accuse each other of foot dragging and egotism, who claim that it was they rather than their colleagues who made a particular discovery or built a particular piece of equipment And we encounter the haphazard process of scientific discovery itself, full of fits and starts, blind alleys and uncertainty, held hostage to the vagaries of government funding and public relations.Levin especially has unique access to the three main scientists Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Ron Drever who conceived LIGO, fought for funds and personnel, worked out the theory and experimental techniques and have really stayed with the project for their entire careers They believed in it long before anyone did, and did not let setbacks of funding and skepticism from other scientists blunt their vision Levin has extensively interviewed these scientists and the narrative is liberally interspersed with their own quotes and their backgrounds The quotes are often inspiring and show scientific inquiry at its dogged best, but it also shows us how scientists are human beings how they can occasionally be petty, impatient and insecure Sometimes individual scientific styles merge and thrive, and sometimes they can clash and dissipate rather than channel energy What is admirable however is that one way or another these scientists and others overcome their insecurities, worked together, fought in front of Congress to get hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to their project and saw their vision to completion What we need to keep in mind are not their shortcomings but their success in spite of these shortcomings.There is also a valuable lesson in the book in the form of the unfortunate story of a physicist named Joe Weber who claimed to have observed gravitational waves using a simple experiment involving aluminum bars way back in the 1960s Other scientists could not replicate his results and he had to endure much censure and ridicule, but he stuck to his guns and kept on pushing for thirty years until the very end of his life Although Weber was probably wrong in his science, his espousal of gravitational waves turned many heads and convinced other scientists to work in the field long before it was fashionable His example shows us that sometimes even wrong science can lead others in the right direction.Levin s book is thus an admirable showcase of the human side of science, and it s as much journalism as science It really shows us how science is really done rather than how it s portrayed in textbooks and popular sources And it ultimately convinces us that scientists are inspiring role models, not in spite of their flaws but because of them. This is an inside story about the long, long road to proving gravitational waves happen You would think this might be a story of great joy and excitement Rather, it s a sad saga of a number of key individuals who seized on an idea independently and together, then carried it forward at great personal cost till THEY WERE PROVED RIGHT We mortals cannot quite grasp why this is so, but if you read the book you will come to believe in this kind of science and develop a strong sense of gratitude for everyone who stuck to their guns for decades When I first got news of their success in hearing small sounds from big events in unimaginably distant space and time I thought, this is a world changer And I still think so For one thing, the elasticity of space and time seems much understandable and of course now that I ve read this story Real people giving their lives to this kind of literally far out thinking and then figuring out how to make it all real for all of us they deserve our appreciation And I thank Janna Levin for telling the story A chronology and list of key players would help the lay reader, perhaps. A well written and informative description of the long struggle to build the two large laser interferometers that recently detected twice the gravitational radiation emitted by the collision of two black holes The book was actually written before the first of those detections, but, in a stroke of luck for all concerned, soon enough to enable an epilog describing it Throughout, the author maintains a healthy balance between the geeky details which she explains clearly enough for the non geek to fully grasp and the personalities, and clash of personalities, of the main participants In contrast to most popular science books, this one devotes substantial space to a recounting of the budgetary ups and downs that beset any large project of this kind, with no guarantee of a successful completion Add to that the very real possibility that the instrument in question might very well not have detected anything, simply because events violent enough to be detectable are just too rare, and you have the making of a suspenseful story, albeit one where we have already looked ahead to assure ourselves of a happy ending. Gripping Very, Very Well Written I Reached The Beautiful Ending Of This Book With A Little Sob Of Gratitude Heartbreaking Brilliant Bryan Appleyard Sunday Times It Is Hard To Imagine That A Better Narrative Will Ever Be Written About The Behind The Scenes Heartbreak And Hardship That Goes With Scientific Discovery Black Hole Blues Is A Spectacular Feat A Near Perfect Balance Of Science, Storytelling And Insight It Is As Inevitable As Gravity That This Book Will Win A Swath Of Awards Michael Brooks New Statesman Astonishing Superb Ms Levin Is Able To Tell The Tale So Soon, And So Well, Because She Has Had Privileged Access To The Experiment She Has Also Known The Experimenters For Several Years Ms Levin Is Herself A Scientist, Which Explains Her Access, But Than That She Is A Writer Readers Feel As If They Are Sitting In On Her Interviews Or Watching Over Her Shoulder As She Describes Two Black Holes Colliding A Splendid Book That I Recommend To Anyone With An Interest In How Science Works And In The Power Of Human Imagination And Ability John Gribbin Wall Street Journal A Superb Storyteller This Is The Most Vivid Account I Can Remember Of Science Policy In Action Ill Be Surprised If Anyone Brings Out A Readable Book On Gravitational Waves In The Near Future Clive Cookson Financial Times The Definitive Account Of How We Completed The Hundred Year Hunt For Gravitational Waves Punchy, Witty, Timely And Deeply Insightful I Havent Read A Better Book On The Realities Of Doing Science Michael Brooks New Statesman, Books Of The Year A Remarkable Achievement That Potentially Opens Up A Whole New Chapter In Our Understanding Of The Cosmos And, With Perfect Timing, Janna Levins Elegant And Lucid Book Is Here To Tell Us How It Was Done The Human Drama Is Compelling The Main Protagonists Comprise As Fascinating A Triumvirate As You Will Find Anywhere In Scientific Literature Levin, A Distinguished Astrophysicist In Her Own Right, Writes Eloquently, Sometimes Even Poetically, About The Search For What She Calls Gravitys Music Simon Griffith Mail On Sunday Taking On The Simultaneous Roles Of Expert Scientist, Journalist, Historian And Storyteller Of Uncommon Enchantment, Levin Delivers Pure Signal From Cover To Cover Levin Harmonizes Science And Life With Remarkable Virtuosity Exposing The Invisible, Incremental Processes That Produce The Final Spark We Call Genius As Redemptive As The Story Of The Countless Trials And Unlikely Triumph May Be, What Makes The Book Most Rewarding Is Levins Exquisite Prose Maria Popova The New York Times The Most Important Development In Astronomy Since The Invention Of The Telescope Levin Excels In Conveying The Personalities Of The Scientists And Their Professional And Personal Struggles With The Success Of Ligo, We Stand At The Dawn Of A New Era In Astronomy, Levin Says In Her Excellent Book Marcus Chown Times Higher Education Brilliant And Timely James Gleick Explains In Clear Terms The Scientific Heart Of This Achievement And The Deep And Personal Fascination That Pursuing It Has Held For Several Generations Of Scientists She Also Captures The Cost Of Getting To This Point, Both Financial This Is Big Science In Its Truest Sense And, In Many Cases, Personal The Plot Is Too Compelling Genuinely Painful To Read In Places Illuminating Interesting NatureThe Full Inside Story Of The Detection Of Gravitational Waves At LIGO, One Of The Most Ambitious Feats In Scientific History Selected As A Book Of The Year In The Sunday TimesThis Is Empirical Poetry A Fascinating Tale Of Human Curiosity Beautifully Told, And With Black Holes And Lasers Too Robin InceIn Albert Einstein Predicted The Existence Of Gravitational Waves Miniscule Ripples In The Very Fabric Of Spacetime Generated By Unfathomably Powerful Events If Such Vibrations Could Somehow Be Recorded, We Could Observe Our Universe For The First Time Through Sound The Hissing Of The Big Bang, The Low Tones Of Merging Galaxies, The Drumbeat Of Two Black Holes Collapsing Into One In A Team Of Hundreds Of Scientists At Work On A Billion Dollar Experiment Made History When They Announced The First Ever Detection Of A Gravitational Wave, Confirming Einsteins Prediction A Century Ago Based On Complete Access To LIGO Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory And The Scientists Who Created It, Black Hole Blues Offers A First Hand Account Of This Astonishing Achievement An Intimate Story Of Cutting Edge Science At Its Most Awe Inspiring And Ambitious