From the acclaimed author of Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space—an authoritative and accessible guide to the most alluring and challenging phenomena of contemporary science.
"[Levin will] take you on a safe black hole trip, an exciting travel story enjoyed from your chair’s event horizon.” —Boston Globe
Through her writing, astrophysicist Janna Levin has focused on making the science she studies not just comprehensible but also, and perhaps more important, intriguing to the nonscientist. In this book, she helps us to understand and find delight in the black hole—perhaps the most opaque theoretical construct ever imagined by physicists—illustrated with original artwork by American painter and photographer Lia Halloran. Levin takes us on an evocative exploration of black holes, provoking us to imagine the visceral experience of a black hole encounter. She reveals the influence of black holes as they populate the universe, sculpt galaxies, and even infuse the whole expanse of reality that we inhabit. Lively, engaging, and utterly unique, Black Hole Survival Guide is not just informative—it is, as well, a wonderful read from first to last.
About the Author
JANNA LEVIN is a professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. She is also director of sciences at Pioneer Works, a center for arts and sciences in Brooklyn. Her previous books include Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, How the Universe Got Its Spots, and a novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham W. Prize. She was recently named a Guggenheim Fellow. She lives in New York City.
"[Levin’s] writing is clear and so colloquial that it sometimes seems as though she’s right there chatting with you, telling a story in a conversation so compelling that you hardly notice the complexity of the actual physics . . . Not only is Levin a brilliant physicist, she’s a gifted writer, sensitive to language and its nuances . . . [She is] an extravagant storyteller with a vivid imagination and an acute intellect who is willing to take you on a safe black hole trip, an exciting travel story enjoyed from your chair’s event horizon.”—Boston Globe
"In prose that revels in the immensity and dispassion of the barely known universe — and bolstered by Lia Halloran’s illustrations of strange celestial shapes and astronauts floating in inky voids — Levin makes space sound like a somewhat reasonable place."—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Warm, smart prose inviting readers to share her fascination with these cosmic phenomena. Enhanced by wonderful artwork, Levin’s book glides through the universe, from relativity and quantum mechanics to the solar system, the Milky Way, and the Andromeda galaxy. Stirring imagination and curiosity about the mysteries of black holes, Levin makes a case that they are a fodder for fantasy”—The National Book Review
"Vivid . . . Readers couldn’t hope for a more fascinating intro to a family of cosmic objects whose existence promises still more wonders to be discovered."—Publishers Weekly
"Armchair astronomers will find this a fascinating and illuminating read."—Booklist
"A short, lively account of one of the oddest and most intriguing topics in astrophysics."—Kirkus Reviews
"Engrossing . . . Levin describes the subject matter in an accessible writing style that is both entertaining and poetic . . . Recommended for nonscientists and those seeking to understand the cosmos better."—Library Journal
"A comprehensible exploration of that which cannot be physically explored . . . a vibrant, illustrated text."—Shelf Awareness
"This slender volume will get the reader quickly up to speed when it comes to black holes, without equations or torrents of jargon."—The Space Review
“Beguiling . . . Levin writes authoritatively and evocatively with a warm, poetic voice . . . The 23 paintings that Halloran made to be interspersed among its pages add to the imagination-stirring allure . . . There are lighter parts too, and the surreality at play in the mix of the writing and the art gives Black Hole Survival Guide an idiosyncratic spirit.”—Art News