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Binker

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space

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I appear to be on a physics kick, even though that's not really my thing.  And space really isn't my thing because the study of space inevitably reveals that I, personally, am not the center of the universe.  And I don't like that.

 

But I liked this book.  In 1916, Einstein posited the existence of gravitational waves resulting from the collisions of black holes and ever since then, scientists have tried to set up an experiment that would record those waves.  They would manifest themselves as sound, but so far away that the sounds would be extremely faint, not detectable with then-current instrumentation.  Finally, the U.S. National Science Foundation funded two enormous installations called "LIGOs," one in Washington State and one in Louisiana, that should be able to hear that ringing if it ever made its way to Earth.  It took a long time and a lot of work and several scientists had their reputations shredded in the process, but the installations were built.  You should read the book to see if they were able to hear the waves, but I have spoilered the answer below if you can't wait.

 

Almost as soon as the installations were functional, during their start up testing period, they "heard" one of these waves.  It could have been years, but it wasn't and it's a very satisfying conclusion to the book, one that the author didn't know about until she was almost done writing it.

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