Taking on the simultaneous roles of expert scientist, journalist, historian and storyteller of uncommon enchantment, Levin delivers pure signal from cover to cover ... But as redemptive as the story of the countless trials and unlikely triumph may be, what makes the book most rewarding is Levin’s exquisite prose, which bears the mark of a first-rate writer: an acute critical mind haloed with a generosity of spirit.
Ms. Levin is herself a scientist, which explains her access, but more than that she is a writer rather than a scientist who writes. Her book touches only lightly upon the nuts and bolts of the theory and technology, but it contains enough to satisfy the reader’s interest in how such measurements can be made. It is more about the people, personalities and politics involved in getting such an expensive and long-gestating (four decades and counting) project to fruition.
Black Hole Blues by Janna Levin provides a case study of how a small group of scientists overcame enormous challenges to build a seemingly impossible experiment that recently made one of the most exciting scientific discoveries of this century … Against all odds, and often in spite of themselves, a group of scientists succeeded in making this measurement. That is the story that Levin tells in Black Hole Blues. Levin is herself a theoretical physicist (as well as an accomplished novelist), but in Black Hole Blues she is more of a journalist, and a good one at that … Levin’s writing is casual and sometimes poetic, and the fortunate existence of an interesting and curious cast of characters makes her book a unique and convincing account of the discovery of gravitational waves. She liberally inserts her own impressions and emotions into the text, and the reader can’t help sharing her surprises, her concerns, and her sympathies.