Dr Janna Levin was given unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the team behind one of the most ambitious feats in scientific history – the discovery of gravitational waves (effectively ripples in the fabric of space-time) that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.
She observed scientists working with the most sensitive scientific instrument ever made – LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) – to identify two black holes merging to create a gravitational wave, thereby proving Einstein's space-time ripple.
Dr Levin explains to Kathryn Ryan why gravitational waves are so exciting to scientists:
Dr Janna Levin is a professor of physics and astronomy at Columbia University, where she studies the Early Universe, Chaos, and Black Holes. She is also an award winning author of books including A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines and How the Universe Got Its Spots: diary of a finite time in a finite space.
She is coming to New Zealand in May for the Auckland Writers Festival, where she will talk about her new book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, which is her first-hand account of the remarkable discovery of gravitational waves.
In the video below, she shows what happens when two black holes of equal mass collide.