Astrophysicist and author Janna Levin to speak at Tulane on April 5

Astrophysicist and author Janna Levin will deliver a talk titled “Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space” at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, at Tulane University’s Freeman Auditorium in the Woldenberg Art Center.

The event is free and open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow Levin’s talk.

A Guggenheim Fellow, Levin is an award-winning author and professor of physics and astronomy at Columbia University whose work has changed the way people understand the cosmos, while highlighting the connections between artistic and scientific creativity. In her talk, Levin will describe the struggle against insurmountable limits that led to the scientific discovery of the century: the recording of the sound of spacetime ringing from a black hole collision 1.4 billion light-years away.

Her new book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space (March 2016), provides a firsthand history of the scientific pursuit to detect gravitational waves that led to this groundbreaking event. About Black Hole Blues, novelist and physicist Alan Lightman writes, “If Hunter Thompson had taken a break to get a PhD in physics and then become obsessed with gravitational waves, he might have written a book like this.”

Levin’s debut book, How the Universe Got Its Spots, fused geometry, topology, chaos and string theory to show how the pattern of hot and cold spots left over from the big bang may one day help reveal the true size and shape of the universe. Her next book, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, bridged fiction and nonfiction to tell a strange story of coded secrets, psychotic delusions, mathematical truth, and age-old lies. The book won the PEN/Bingham Fellowship for Writers which “honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work […] represents distinguished literary achievement.” It was also a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway award for “a distinguished book of first fiction.”

As a cosmologist, Levin’s scientific research concerns the early universe, chaos, and black holes. She holds a BA in physics and astronomy from Barnard College with a concentration in philosophy, and a PhD from MIT in physics.

This event is sponsored by the Newcomb-Tulane College Office of Cocurricular Programs at Tulane University, and presented as part of the Crossroads Colloquium, a forum for interdisciplinary conversation on issues of relevance to both humanities and sciences.