More than a billion years ago, two black holes collided. In the final second of their long life together, the black holes banged out a rhythm like mallets on a drum, creating gravitational waves – ripples in the shape of spacetime.
One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of such waves, though it seemed improbable – if not outright impossible – that we’d ever be able to actually detect them. They were long considered too faint for any earthbound experiment to measure.
Undaunted, experimentalists were determined to measure these Lilliputian ripples, and after many decades of work and collaboration, they built LIGO – the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. This incredible sophisticated and sensitive instrument was made to listen for the beat of that distant drum. In 2015, a billion years after the two black holes collided, their waves rippled through the LIGO detectors in Louisiana and Washington.
With these remarkable new observatories, we can now capture the soundtrack to accompany the silent movie of the history of our universe.
During her live public lecture webcast at Perimeter Institute on May 3, Janna Levin of Columbia University will explain this “discovery of the century” and what it means for the future of science.
About Janna Levin
Janna Levin is the Tow Professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University, and has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. She is also director of sciences at Pioneer Works. 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. Her latest book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, is the inside story on the discovery of the century: the sound of spacetime ringing from the collision of two black hole over a billion years ago.
Waiting line experience
There will be a waiting line for last minute cancelled (or ‘no show’) seats on the night of the lecture. Doors open at 5:30 pm. Come to Perimeter and pick-up a waiting line chit at the Waiting Line sign and then participate in pre-lecture activities – no need to wait in line. An announcement will be made in the Bistro at 6:45pm if theatre seats are available. Note: you must arrive in person to be part of the waiting line and be in the Bistro when the waiting line announcement is made.
Everyone who comes to Perimeter will be able to participate in the lecture. The public lecture will be shown simultaneously on closed circuit television in the licensed comfort of the Black Hole Bistro for any members of the waiting line who are not able to get a theatre seat.
Live webcast online
Enjoy the live webcast of Perimeter Institute Public Lectures from the comfort of your own home. Join us at 7pm ET night of the lecture and be part of the online audience.
For most lectures the on-demand playback will be online within 24 hours after the live event. Check our YouTube page for the playbacks.
Who can attend: Everyone
Fee: Attendance to the lecture is free, but advance tickets are required. Due to the overwhelming response to past lectures, tickets will be honoured until 6:45pm only. If you have not arrived by 6:45pm your reservation may be filled by guests in the waiting line, and you may be asked to join the end of the waiting line.
Tickets: Tickets will be available online on Monday, April 17 at 9:00am
Organized by: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Location: Perimeter Institute, Mike Lazaridis Theatre of Ideas, 31 Caroline St. N., Waterloo, ON