Einstein's Unfinished Symphony:: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time

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Joseph Henry Press, Oct 3, 2000 - Science - 266 pages
4 Reviews

A new generation of observatories, now being completed worldwide, will give astronomers not just a new window on the cosmos but a whole new sense with which to explore and experience the heavens above us. Instead of collecting light waves or radio waves, these novel instruments will allow astronomers to at last place their hands upon the fabric of space-time and feel the very rhythms of the universe.

These vibrations in space-time-or gravity waves-are the last prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity yet to be observed directly. They are his unfinished symphony, waiting nearly a century to be heard. When they finally reveal themselves to astronomers, we will for the first time be able to hear the cymbal crashes from exploding stars, tune in to the periodic drumbeats from swiftly rotating pulsars, listen to the extended chirps from the merger of two black holes, and eavesdrop on the remnant echoes from the mighty jolt of the Big Bang itself.

When Einstein introduced general relativity in 1915, it was hailed as a momentous conceptual achievement. Einstein attained celebrity status. But, once scientists verified what they could of the theory, given the scant experiments available at the time, general relativity became "largely a theoretical curiosity," writes Marcia Bartusiak.

Now, after decades of technological advancement, general relativity is being tested with unprecedented accuracy. It even affects our everyday lives. Satellites used by both travelers and soldiers to peg their positions require constant corrections of Einsteinian precision. Meanwhile, the first gravity-wave "telescopes"-including the LIGO facility-are about to come alive.

In Einstein's Unfinished Symphony, Bartusiak captures the excitement as two gravity-wave observatories in Louisiana and Washington State, as well as others in Italy, Germany, and Japan, approach operation and physicists gear up to begin their work to register the long-predicted quakes in space-time.

With each chapter, Bartusiak continues her musical metaphor in tracing the story of general relativity, from the time "Maestro" Einstein enters physics, through the "Starlight Waltz" of neutron stars twisting space-time around themselves, to the "Dissonant Chords" of controversy as physicists fight to get their radically new observatories approved, through the "Finale" as a worldwide endeavor in gravity-wave astronomy is launched.

  

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Review: Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time

User Review  - Ashish Jaituni - Goodreads

This is a wonderful book. Very well written. It tells the story of search for Gravitational waves till today. Prof. Bartusiak is a very good writer, much better than many scientists who write books on popular science. Read full review

Review: Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time

User Review  - Converse - Goodreads

The main reason I didn't give this book on astrophysics a higher rating is that the main topic, gravity waves, haven't been observed yet (also checked LIGO website, the site for those working on this ... Read full review

Contents

Acknowledgments
Prelude
Space in G Flat
The Maestro Enters
Starlight Waltz
Pas De Deux
Bars and Measures
Dissonant Chords
A Little Light Music
Variations on a Theme
The Music of the Spheres
Finale
Coda
Bibliography
Index
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Marcia Bartusiak, a former MIT Knight Fellow, is the author of two previous books, "Thursday's Universe" and "Through a Universe Darkly," both of which were named Notable Books by the "New York Times," The first woman to receive the presitigious Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics, she has also taught science journalism at Boston University.

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