tv Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space CSPAN November 20, 2016 1:00pm-1:46pm EST
easily won another election and continued to do so. but, the-- it was important to him not to do that because he wanted russia to be seen as a democratic country and do so i believe that when we come to, 2024 he will face a similar decision and he might very well do what he did the first time, groom a successor who will officially become president and he will remain on as, you know, prime minister again or at that point a more informal role, but he is definitely not going away soon. host: did he sit down with you for this book? guest: he refused for this book and i tried very hard. i have interviewed him before the couple of settings and thought it would be great to talk to him about the things that i don't know, frankly, and that i could not learn. i would love to talk to him more about the war and the rest of his family's experience
there and obviously there are a lot of unanswered questions to this day about his personal life is personal finances. what was interesting is that people who were close to him did agree to talk and i had to assume that was with his permission, so i'm surprised-- a little bit disappointed-- i spent time called invading the kremlin spokesman and pressed him over and over to try to make this happen and finally he said, you don't need to meet the president to interview him. you know everything there is to know about him. he has said it all. look on our website. there is some truth to that. he is somewhat-- he is very open. he talks a lot in the key is to read it all and balance what you can with other sources. host: steven lee myers is the author and here's the book: the new czar, the rising rate of vladimir putin. mr. myers, thank you for being with us on book tv
here in miami. book tvs live coverage of the miami book festival now continues at the chamber of commerce here in miami. it's gorgeous and we will back inside with the several hours of live coverage ahead, but we will go back inside the book tv room here and up next is author janna levin, talking about "black hole blues and other songs from outer space and other songs. ♪ ♪ >> [inaudible conversations] >> i'm a friend of the book there. have you turned your phones off? i expect they have been
off all day. thank you very much for that and thank you for coming to support the book fair. we thank our sponsors and especially the knight foundation, oh zero, the bash the foundation. we thank all of you friends and we hope to those of you that are not friends of the book fair will become friends and the volunteers, hundreds of them around and about making this work well. a special thanks to miami-dade college for hosting us all in sponsoring this wonderful event. this session will feature a conversation between two women who have caused a lot of excitement in their respective fields. maria is best known as the creator and curator of the brain ticking.org, a site that features eclectic assortment of culture, books and images and text from the past. her efforts a starter
with an e-mail to a few friends and now she has several million devotees. doctor jan 11 is an astrophysicist and conceptual writer who abuse science as a powerful force and culture. she makes such topics as by kos, dark energy and the big bang seem cool and assessable. she has been called the hipster physicist for her on orthodox approaches such as posting standing world only soirées, scientific soirées and appearing as a guest on the cold air show. doctor levin is a professor of physics and astronomy at bernard college and the director of sciences which is a center for our and ideas in red hook, brooklyn. shields aba physics and astronomy from bernard with a concentration in philosophy and a phd
from mit in physics. her two previous books work the highly acclaimed: how the universe got its spot and a fabulous award-winning novel work with her new book she returns to nonfiction. "black hole blues and other songs from outer space tells the 50 year campaign to detect gravitational waves, which made big news in 2016. i'm going to leave it to doctor levin to tell you more about her book because i clearly know when i am over my head, so please welcome maria and jan 11. [applause]. [applause]. >> i have to say first that this is one of the most fascinating and beautifully written books i've ever read-- read.
i did not even have to pay her. so, you tell this story of this century long vision and half century long quest to detect the grudge tatian waves and as i was reading "black hole blues and other songs from outer space one thing coming to mine which was a short piece that walter lippman wrote in the summer of 1937, six days after a millionaire heart disappeared into the pacific ocean. hero: the best things of mankind are the things undertaken not part measurable results, but because someone not counting the costs are calculating the consequences of live by curiosity, a point of honor to invent or make her understand and mankind overcomes what would keep it earthbound forever.
all of the heroes, saints, sears, explorers and the creators partake of it. they do not know what they had discovered. they do not know whether impulses taking them and can give no account in advance of where they are going or explain with there been. they do the useless, brave, noble, foolish and wisest things and what they prove to themselves and others is that man is no mere creature of this habit, no mere collective machine, but in the dust of which he is made there is also fire now and then by great wings in the sky. >> so beautiful and painful to think that it was really after she was lost. >> she was lost and there was an experiment that did not bear fruit for flight, but to me "black hole blues and other songs from outer space is the counterpart to that because it's beautifully written and this enormous extraordinary heroism, but also the book itself is a
testament to that because you wrote before this anonymous experiment had clear results, when it was uncertain, so so how did you have the courage to do that. >> i think you are so perceptive because that's exactly in some sense what i thought the book was about, the human campaign and drive and in some sense the insanity. it wasn't about wind to success, so when this finally did succeed people described as they turned it on and there was this great moment of incredible scientific discovery, but in reality it was a 50 year arduous campaign like climbing a mountain in the sense that not everyone makes it to the summit with bodies strewn along the way and they keep climbing and there is something about that universal drive just to know, just to see that i thought was at work there and it
was so interesting. >> the timeline is that einstein first envisioned the mathematical model for educational waves in 1915, but he lived at a time before radar, before the technology that made it possible to test this out and for him you say it was a experiment and haiku and half a century later they start building. >> if you think about, in 1915, einstein publishes his great theory, which is one mathematical sentence describing the curvature of space and time and from the trenches of world war i, carl schwartz field is reading that persist reading between calculating canyon fire and he writes down a solution that we now call the black hole and he sends it to einstein and einstein is incredibly impressed that there is a mathematical
solution in his own theory that he did not discover that describes the curved space-time around even something where all the masses concentrated to a point, but he does not think it will be real in nature, so not only is einstein thinking about ripples in the fabric of space-time, but he's thinking there is nothing tremendous enough to cause them in any significant way because you need things catastrophic like black holes to make gravitational waves, sought the time he's thinking about gravitational waves he consider it the most important theoretical problem, but never imagines it's something measurable that we can record that is in that sense astra physically manageable. >> you come at it from a unusual standpoint where you are a scientist and also a novelist and in a way you are in a peer group of two like you and alan lightman. >> lovely human being. >> shout out to alan lightman.
>> hello, alan. >> this notion-- you use science as the lens and is a book about science and really a book about the lens of this larger question of just the human spirit and tenacity and what's so unusual and kind of inventive is that you structure it with each chapter as a kind of psychological profile of one of the major people involved in with a real kind of style that you tell their story and so elegantly between science, journalists and novelists. tell us about the main characters. >> when-- what i set out to do was something completely different. i wanted to write a book about black holes and as a scientist to work on blackhole's on the time and i felt that i had some different ways to discuss this and just talk about black call scientifically. that's not the book is about at all because halfway through i
got caught up in another story and i think that this is how science is done from time to time that your bait hypothesis that you want to follow in youth follow it and threw something in the southern direction and if you can bear to throw away your original ideas and be willing to follow it, there is something even-- >> kill your darlings. >> kill your darlings as virginia woolf says. so, ray white is one of the original architects of this experiment called by go, which he began dreaming about the late 60s early 70s that it was still a time when people did not know black holes were real, so it was very impacted what he was doing and i spent a lot of time just with ray and listening to that particular sort of new york accent that he came from germany
originally, but has this certain indignation that i associate with a generation, not so much a region and i thought raise a character in a novel and he's giving me dialogue. he's giving it to me having granted there were like 50 hours of tape, but i started hearing that the book could be written in a more novelistic style about the character and so began with ray and then thoren, the great astrophysicist. >> describe what he looks like. >> i love. he's very lanky and he always wears this beard, which i think in the book i describe as an inverted triangle, almost like the wife of the shirt with the chestnut lapel sort of bounding his beard, but kip is a real free spirit and i was imagine you can make that praise up just four kip and it wasn't a cliché. he was a real product of the 70s. ray said when he met kip that he
just looked crazy like a hippie guy with long scraggly hair and kip was already a famous astrophysicist by the age of 30. kip wanted to get into something bigger than his own accomplishments in a way. he was so accomplished he was thinking what i do and what something that's bigger than myself and what i do that's big for the whole community and so it begins with the three of them and a handful of other people and is now nearly a team of 1000 >> you leave the their personal history into their genius, essentially showing how every fragment of our lives as of two our cultural contribution and ray-- like oat is essentially a giant listening instrument, so ray when he was a young man, but a pianist and this is what tuned him into this interest of sound
and then kip, a free-spirited hippie came from this unusual mormon family of feminist who the mother was like unhappy with the churches treatment of women so they kind of left the church and had this rebellious nature and with the obituary for the mother said something like: old radical dies. that's the headline and you can tell when kip relays that that he is kind of proud. >> he really is. >> and bond grew up in kind of a very poor village in scotland where he was building things out of junk including a tv set, which was probably the only one in the village. he took that hacker spirit and took it to the largest scientific institution in the world. >> eventually recruited by caltech. he goes to harvard than caltech and he's reluctant to leave scotland, but i love about his
story is that he liked to cut bits of rubber matting off a bold experiments and make new things while people at harvard were using the most advanced magnet designed and he was using the earth's magnetic deal because it was free and head this way of exploiting what he had to make something incredible out of it, but eventually this experiment you are describing became too big for all of them pick raise a original prototype, which he builds in this ramshackle structure on the mit campus, a structure that was supposed be torn down. it was the sheer craftiness of the structure that allowed them the freedom to do anything they wanted. ray did one experiment with like a breakthrough three-story ceiling that the roof and people just occasionally a window would
blowout down the street and they would just steal it each other's electricity from pipes overhead and he said one time he did on experiment with a cat, i mean, and ray says they were an audit bunch, but they were free somehow to really experiment and his first prototype was a meter and a half and here he is in one of his colleagues said what you are doing is nothing and will amount to nothing and i could do better looking out the window. he thought, it's true. if the sun blows up i would do better looking out the window that with my instrument and he realized it had to be 3000 times bigger, bigger than the campus, bigger than the city, bigger than that town and that's what they were looking at eventually. >> what's so lovely is that the book really on moore's the modern hero myth, you know, the genius of that moment and he revealed the slow incremental
buildup of personhood within an individual life that amounts to genius, but also culturally across scientists and failures amounting to eventually success and in one of the chapters it was dedicated to it is perhaps the most tragic hero of the book, jill weber who is doing the first two build an instrument. >> joe's story is difficult. even before there was ray and kip enron there was joe weber and joe weber was like the shackleton. he was almost the first. he was-- he had some of the original ideas which was the predecessor to the laser, but not part of the nobel prize-winning team for the laser. he had other ideas considered to be-- he sort of missed and hit
this idea to measure he believed they were ringing all the time and so he claimed discovery of ripples. >> this is while everyone is partying in woodstock in 1969 and joe weber's attic obscure conference at what could be the biggest scientific discovery of that era. >> absolutely and he is saying i'm measuring ripples. this is not a telescope. it's more like a fork that's ringing to the oscillations of
space-time is some, so recording device and he becomes the most famous scientist at the time. for about two years they start building them in scotland and japan in the even put some of joe's instruments on the moon and suddenly in moscow and suddenly the skies are quiet for everyone and is so after about two years the entire community turns against him and it's a very difficult and painful year and he spends the next .5, 30 years defending himself. >> they go vicious. >> he becomes the butt of every joke. >> week-- i mean, every can we know right now that the universe has come from observations in the time since galileo. we have only watched the universe. >> we take pictures.
>> meanwhile, there is this entire different world of sound that could reveal things as important like when galileo was looking at the universe the telescope of his time was so primitive that he did not know galaxies exist, so what are we not hearing that's out there right now. >> also, 95% of the universe is dark. less than 5% of the universe is luminous, so we can take pictures and it looks like this universe full of stars and there are as many galaxies as there are stars in the milky way and it's this beautiful world, but actually 95% of the universe is not luminous. it's dark. the only way we might really detect some of this stuff is through that effect it has on space and time. gravitational waves are these ripples in space and time. when black holes moved for instance they are like mallets
on a drum, so it's not just an analogy. it's really really close to ringing of a drum and what these experiments do is record the shape of the drum and play it back to us as sound come almost like the body of an instrument recording this dream of an electric guitar and played back. >> that's why everyone was so excited that joe weber, but he plummeted from grace work meanwhile this enormous instrument was being built and joe weber remained a one-man show operating behind the lab where he is janitor and chief scientist. you write about how he is already suffering from leukemia and one winter morning he goes to clean his lab and slips on the eyes, falls and never recovers. >> he is not found for days and it's a test story. the gravitational wave is sort of their and lashed by whether and he reveals when people ask
him how are you maintaining your facility he shows his wallet to indicate how he's maintaining his facility, but i think that now people are coming around to say the right things about joe weber. >> he was credited in the paper when the discovery was announced >> which i love and it meant a lot to me that they did this, so this discovery of the century, possibly a site in the introduction paragraph that joe weber is the pioneer. >> it's wonderful, his wife who is also an astronomer, she i think is one of the most likable characters in your book, but she has this one line where she says , science is a self-correcting process, but not necessarily in one's lifetime. you know, your novel based on the lives of alan currying also has these two tragic heroes and like what is the draw?
>> they are all tragic heroes. >> in a way they are. >> they are all of us. >> also this notion that tragedy and triumph can coexist come about not necessarily on the tame-- same timescale, almost playing with the timescale of a black holes in the gravitational waves-- what, 1.4 billion years ago? before our civilization existed. >> i mean, so you mention at the beginning when i finish the book the discovery had not been made and i printed out a copy for ray and kip just for accuracy. i wanted to make sure i had just that there was no factual errors on the day that the gravitational wave struck, it was just one of those strange accidents.
imagine 1.3 billion years ago two black holes in their final throws together and execute their final-- >> would you like to read the beautiful passage? >> is this the opening? well, opening was written before >> this is an opening that described perfectly what ended up happening without any proof. >> so, when i wrote this opening i did not believe that discovery would happen for years and neither did ray. people said it would be years before the discovery happened and people told me not to write the book yet, but hold off and raise like what are you going to do if something happens and i'm not-- i'm like it's not about the success, but this is the opening paragraph of the book. somewhere in the universe to black holes collide, as heavy as stars at a small, literally black complete absence of life,
holes, empty hollow. tethered by gravity in their final seconds to get at the black holes course through thousands of revolutions about their eventual point of contact churning up space and time until the crash and merge into one bigger black:, and even bigger than any origin of the universe outputting more than a trillion times the power of a billion suns. the black holes collide in complete darkness, none of the energy exploding from the collision comes out as light, no telescope will see the event. and i think what was remarkable when they actually detected the two blackhole's, it was the single largest event we have detected since the origin of the universe. more energy, more power came out of that collision than the power of all of the sons shining in the universe combined at that moment. yet, it was a completely dark events and the only detectors that recorded it was this detector, which after 1.3 billion years coming from
the southern sky, this essentially sound is recorded on a machine in the coast of louisiana and scoots seven milliseconds across the continent until it rings the machine in washington with the same sound. >> astonishingly, einstein wrote the mathematical model for this in the fall of 1915. of the detection happened exactly a century later, incredible. >> ray kept like a madman, ray who is in his 80s by now walking up and down the titles of this for kilometers along instrument. i can't tell you how many times people said we better as great mean so involved in the experiment and ray was pushing. he kept saying i want it, dammit and then he would be like if i can't have that i will have the anniversary of another paper in 2018 because everyone was telling him it's not going to happen. it's never going to happen in 2015. >> one of the most touching
parts, sentences in the book am poor as the end when you're sitting across from robbie who was one of the directors. another one of the key figures wearily a champion and very dedicated. now he's an 80 something-year old man sitting in this academic , dingy office and you say that he looked at me from behind wilted orchids and it just captures the whole you know, this is these men's lives and no sense that it would be a success. >> robbie eventually was fired from the project and so the past 25 years he had an office on the same floor as these people, but does not speak to them and he does not speak to them and robbie is unintimidating man i mean like when some of my friends from the experiment heard that i was going to meet robbie they were like are you sure that you are going to be okay.
he's a big physically imposing man. he was a prisoner of war during world war ii and immigrated to the united states and has this hatred of authority because of his experience under the nazi regime. >> once again showing the formative character. >> he hates authority, but becomes on authority and there are several things he said to me through those wilted orchids which are very painful and one is when they discover gravitational waves it won't be me that he was ousted from the project and he also said about himself as an authority he said, he never strove for power because power disrupts you. >> a very poignant remark in this teenage. >> it was very difficult because he talks about also, how caltech was in some sense more of his country that either germany or the us. ..
>> he's making this case for science as the on the real thing around -- the only real thing around which humanity can converge. and we're standing here today in a very divided time, and you have to think, you know, this language is still there. >> it's why, i mean, what you're saying is so important, because it's why we have to be very
upset if our leaders say things like i don't believe in science. it's not an option. [laughter] to believe or not believe in science. and the fact that it's -- >> yes. [applause] >> and i, on the day when they announced this major discovery which, you know, it's hard to understand what it, even if we talked about just the science of it for an hour, it's hard to understand. but for 24 hours, it felt like the world stood still. to look up at the sky and to, like, have some feeling of recognition that we're all under the same sky. i was doing interviews on al-jazeera tv with an interviewer in qatar, and there was this moment of we're taking a pause to acknowledge that this is global and worldwide. and there's something that's exactly what it is about science that got me into it in the first place, that it is transcendent. it doesn't matter where you're from or what language you speak or what era it is. >> and the it's so important to
more of that transcendence because people, as you say, have a hard time understanding something you can't pinpoint what it's going to be used for -- >> right. >> -- and you make this enormous, elegant case. but in a way i was thinking about your novel about turing, it's easier to appreciate him as a traveling genius because turing pioneered computing. we've seen -- i have the application here. [laughter] >> you have a universal turing machine on your lap. >> i have a universal turing machine. but with weber, we have no idea where gravitational astronomy is going to take us. >> right. >> just as people love giving this example of einstein's general relativity is why we have gps. most of us would not have found our way into this room or even into this town without einstein. >> you can thank einstein for uber finding you on the right corner. [laughter] >> exactly. so what are we going to thank joe weber and even the lego team
one day that we can't begin to envision the tools and consciousness that we have right now. >> yeah. i mean, it's exactly true. but there is something, the fact that we are the most important even in our own minds is really an assumption that a lot of scientists haven't made. and so, for instance, ray who will always be a hero of mine said toward the end of, well, what's now the end of the book, but said he was already thinking about new experiments and bigger machines and what's next. these are projects that take did, and ray is in his 80s. he says very frankly in no uncertain terms that this is what he's working on, and it won't be in my lifetime, he says, but that doesn't matter. and that's just a very different attitude, i think. >> in terms of your process since we're at a metaoccasion of a writers' festival, because you, as i said, interpolate
between these roles of expert scientists, as a reporter, you have a lot of dialogue, and then novelists, historical novelists. how to you -- i mean, when you write these little vignettes of roy's childhood in scotland, they really come to life in a new way, and they bring the larger story to life in a deeper is and more dimensional way. how do you manage those roles? >> i owe that to the people who were willing to talk to me. so for a while i did not have enough on, the reever -- dreever. he's not well, and he's in a home where he's lived for a few years, so you can't talk to him, and you can't interview him. there were a handful of tapes of interviews from the '90s, but it wasn't rich enough. i didn't have on him what i had on, let's say, kip and ray. and then after a lot of pushing and pushing people and pushing people who knew people, i got in
touch with his brother, ian dreever, who is this incredibly affable and charming scottishman, a doctor who cares for his brother and just told me everything. i mean, it was incredible. and once ian started talking, i thought -- >> did you think he was more retent i have to talking -- retentive to talking because he thought he was talking to fellow scientists as -- >> that's interesting. i don't know. you know, he was such a generous spirit. and he's very different from his brother, who i think was very difficult to talk to. very hard to talk to and very hard to pin down and would not have given the descriptions of, you know, ian describes being in charge of his brother even to though he was three years the junior and taking care of his brother, always. always having to make sure he was okay in where he was going. but they loved him. they -- ian said something, it was only later in my life that i realized what a vortex our entire family had around ron and
his peculiar genius and his difficult, difficult temperament. but he had this incredible generosity towards his brother. so you could tell he -- this is before the discovery. so there weren't reporters calling him all the time and interviewing him and who's ron are. ron, you couldn't have found a wikipedia page on ron or any information on the internet. so i think it was his brother's first time to really talk about it and talk about their childhood and give all that beautiful detail. i was just really good luck in a way that, you know, that he was that kind. >> and throughout the book, you have this wonderful sympathetic curiosity about the imperfections of these brilliant, flawed people. i mean, ron is a really prickly contrarian person. >> yes. >> and all of them have these, you know, nobody's this kind of saintly character except maybe ray who's quite likable -- >> but ray, you know, ray swears a lot, you know?
[laughter] ray's difficult. you know, ray wouldn't describe himself that way. ray's not saintly. ray's a tough guy, you know, and he gets the job done, and he doesn't always say polite things about other people. but when i went to him and i showed him the book, i was really worried he was going to object to some of the stuff that was unflattering or where people said hostile things about lygo or about him or the campaign especially before it succeeded, right? so they're feeling vulnerable. he would say things about i don't like it, but it's true, so you can keep it. [laughter] >> only a scientist will say that. >> exactly. i said he's a scientist to the end. he didn't deny he doesn't like it. i even have a line in the book where ray says, yep, it's all true, and unfortunately it's in the public record, but it doesn't have to be in your book. but i felt it did, and he was like, okay. >> and this message that science this largest of all aspirations
and people sublimate whatever personal issues they have to that larger collaboration, larger, transcendent vision, it's wonderful. and in the course of it -- well, first of all, let's describe what lygo looks like, because it's really impressive which stands for laser -- [inaudible] gravitational observatory. >> yes. so lygo, so there's two different instruments. each instrument is in the shape of an l. at the apex of the l, there's a laser that's split so that the laser light shines down the two arms of the l -- >> which are -- >> four kilometers long each, and they're vacuum tubes. one of the most difficult parts of the experiment was drawing the vacuum. it creates two of the largest holes in the earth's atmosphere. there's less stuff in those tubes than there are in regional of interstellar space. and it was drawn in 1998. if the vacuum is broken, they
say things to me like, oh, we'd all go home. that would be it. you can't just redraw empty space that large. so the light shines down the l, it bounces off these spectacular mirrors at the end of the l, and the mirrors are completely transparent to the human eye. stunning. so we wouldn't call them mirrors to the human eye. they look like perfectly transparent glass. but to the laser light, they're like 99.999% reflective. so the laser bounces off the mirrors and comes back to the apex. and the point is, like, something floating on the ocean wave or bobbing on the ocean, if space time changes shape if the wave passes, the mirrors will bob on the wave. and so if the light comes down at the apex and says, you know, i traveled a different distance than one of the arms on the other, it will interfere on itself in such a way that it makes a recording of it. and the experimentalists literally listen to the detector in the control room, they listen to it as noise.
and the gravitational wave, as it passes, will cause the mirrors to oscillate in a very characteristic way, very characteristic sound. >> the most extraordinary thing in terms of the practicality of it is that we have this incredibly sophisticated instrument that's been decades in the making. >> yeah. >> i mean, really, really impressive. and meanwhile they brush, the scientists brush with every kind of natural and human disaster. [laughter] you know, they have a wasp nest in the belly of the instrument, they have an almost biblical bat infestation in the louisiana site. >> yeah. apparently the urine from spiders or wasps, i can't remember which, is corrosive to stainless steel, so it was causing -- [laughter] apparently, you can't make a swimming pool out of stainless steel because of the chlorine. and apparently, there were these tiny holes forming in this incredibly important vacuum. and so it was, like, they were leaking.
and ray was the first person to walk the four-kilometer-long tubeses and find this infestation of spiders and wasps and rats. >> it's so fascinating how we get really to see that science is not this thing separate from life, that it is life, it is nature, it is -- >> yeah. >> i mean, and the whole history of modern cosmology is strewn with these, the cosmic microwave background radiation was discovered because two guys were cleaning off pigeon poop from a telescope. >> yeah. >> and that's how we know about the big bang. >> yeah. they kept trying to get rid of the pigeons, and the pigeons kept flying back. eventually, they shot the pigeons, which is kind of tragic, but it turned out it wasn't pigeon with poo, it was the origin of the universe. [laughter] and sometimes that's what it's like. one of the facilities is on the same site of the plutonium separation facilities for the original nuclear weapons. and so the security guard was driving around in the middle of
the night on this shrub-steep deserty place in the total darkness and crashes into one of the tunnels, you know, breaking his arm. thankfully, sorry, not breaking the vacuum. and they were shot up by hunters in louisiana. all kinds of interesting things -- >> they had creationists meeting across the street to ban evolution taught in the classrooms. >> yeah. >> across the street from lygo to. >> yeah. one of the heads of the site said to the europeans we look so typically american, all we need is a hamburger incident. it'll be complete. i'm sensing, are we on time? >> you're not out of time, and i've been instructed not to necessarily stop to your conversation, but we would be giving up q&a. so i want a show of hands. do we have questions out here or shall we let these brilliant women just keep talking? >> i think we can incorporate the wes. so we'll -- the questions. so we'll take questions, and we can incorporate --
>> and then we have about eight minutes. >> okay, thank you. >> thank you so much. >> i think there's a microphone, yeah. >> yeah, there's a line, there's a mic stand in the center. >> hello. >> hi. >> when two black holeses collide, it seems like they give off gravity waves for at least a week. what makes it just a fraction of a second? >> oh, it's a really important question. the first generation of instruments was built in the year 2000, and it was a very sophisticated instrument, but it heard nothing. and so you can imagine where they are at this stage on the 50th year when they're building the second generation of instruments which was installed in august 2015, you know, over the period of a year and a half. and first time it's really operational is when it recorded the gravitational waves from these black holes. but as you said, it only recorded the final one-fifth of a second before they merge. to the problem is that they might have been orbiting each other for a billion years for all we know. so that means when the first
generation of machines was operational in 2000, that gravitational wave was swoshing over the earth. as the black holes get closer and closer in the final, final fraction of a second, it's like mallets on a drum that have gotten louder, and the frequency is where lygo has its best sensitivity. so that's really what happened. they could have recorded possibly years of it had it been louder, but it's only the one-fifth of a second that's loud enough to hear. >> and what's happening the black holes -- their event horizons meet, and it's -- >> it makes a bigger black hole. so there's a hole, and then it rings down and becomes a perfect, ideal black hole. black holes are almost like perfect objects. they're like fundamental particles. so there's a black hole out there somewhere in the southern style which is something like 62 times the mass of the sun which
is just going to be sit there quietly. >> and it all happens in a fractional of a second? >> yes, that final -- yes, as soon as the event horizons merge, it's very fast where it shakes off all the lumps and imperfections you could imagine by jamming two things together to make this perfect black hole very fast. you can hear what we call the ringdown in the actual data. you can actually hear it shed away, and that's one of the things that's so stunning about the prediction that it's a final black hole. >> thank you so much for being here. i'm a high school language arts teacher, and i love to integrate science writing into my classroom, but i am fighting with my boss at the moment, and i was hoping you could give me the best line to say to him. [laughter] the issue is there is, of course, an enormous emphasis on s.t.e.m. instruction in every school district, and i would never dispute the relevance and the essential role that has in education. in my particular situation, the higher-ups are stripping funding