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Since 1916 when Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves—the powerful aftermath occurring when black holes collide—scientists have been trying to provide evidence of this profusion of energy. However, a telescope cannot record this event—the only evidence is the sound of spacetime ringing. Janna Levin, one of today’s most eminent theoretical astrophysicists and an award-winning writer, recounts the fascinating story of the surprises, disappointments, achievements, and risks of the scientists who embarked on an epic endeavor to capture the first sounds from space in her latest book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space. Join us as Levin explores this radical scientific campaign to record the soundtrack of our universe with cosmologist Sean Carroll.

Janna Levin

Janna Levin is a professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. She is also director of sciences at Pioneer Works, a center for arts and sciences in Brooklyn, and has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. Her previous books include How the Universe Got Its Spots and a novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham Prize. She was recently named a Guggenheim fellow.


Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. His research focuses on fundamental physics and cosmology, especially issues of dark matter, dark energy, and the origin of the universe. He is the author of The Particle at the End of the Universe and From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time. Recent awards include the Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics and the Winton Prize from the Royal Society of London. He frequently consults for film and television, and has been featured on shows such as The Colbert Report and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.


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As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main image credit: Georgios Kaleadis



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