Astrophysicist and author Janna Levin is changing the way we understand the cosmos, showing audiences just how far science has come — and where it's headed. Her talks reexamine questions about the nature of reality, and make cutting edge science accessible to anyone willing to expand their mind, while expanding on topics from black holes to creativity, to the union of art and science. In this lecture, she explores the creative explosions that can occur when limits are imposed, both in the arts and the sciences.
Levin’s debut book, How the Universe Got Its Spots, fused geometry, topology, chaos and string theory to show how the pattern of hot and cold spots left over from the big bang may one day help reveal the true size and shape of the universe. Her next book, the award-winning A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, bridged fiction and nonfiction to tell a strange story of coded secrets, psychotic delusions, mathematical truth, and age-old lies. Her new book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space (March 2016), provides a fascinating, firsthand history of the scientific pursuit to detect gravitational waves: the holy grail of modern cosmology, the soundtrack of the universe.
Levin is a professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. Her scientific research concerns the early universe, chaos, and black holes. She has worked at the Center for Particle Astrophysics (CfPA) at UC Berkeley, the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at Cambridge University, and the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing at Oxford University, where she won an award from the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and Arts. Levin holds a BA in physics and astronomy from Barnard College with a concentration in philosophy, and a PhD from MIT in Physics. She was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2012.
The Crossroads Colloquium is a forum for interdisciplinary conversation on issues of relevance to both humanities and sciences.