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Decatur Book Festival - Gravity's Engines | Caleb Scharf

This event is free and open to the public.
RSVPs are not required.
Refer to this Festival webpage for the most up-to-date information.
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Gravity's Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos
Caleb Scharf

We’ve long understood black holes to be the points at which the universe as we know it comes to an end. Often billions of times more massive than the sun, they lurk in the inner sanctum of almost every galaxy of stars. They’re mysterious chasms so destructive and unforgiving that not even light can escape their deadly wrath. Recent research, however, has led to a cascade of new discoveries that have revealed an entirely different side to black holes. As the astrophysicist Caleb Scharf reveals in Gravity’s Engines, these chasms in space-time don’t just vacuum up everything that comes near them; they also spit out huge beams and clouds of matter. Black holes blow bubbles.

With clarity and keen intellect, Scharf masterfully explains how these bubbles profoundly rearrange the cosmos around them. Engaging with our deepest questions about the universe, he takes us on an intimate journey through the endlessly colorful place we call our galaxy and reminds us that the Milky Way sits in a special place in the cosmic zoo - a “sweet spot” of properties. Is it coincidental that we find ourselves here at this place and time? Could there be a deeper connection between the nature of black holes and their role in the universe and the phenomenon of life? We are, after all, made of the stuff of stars.

About the author
Caleb Scharf is the director of the Columbia Astrobiology Center. He writes the Life, Unbounded blog for Scientific American; has written for New Scientist, Science, and Nature, among other publications; and has served as a consultant for the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, The New York Times, and more. Scharf has served as a keynote speaker for the American Museum of Natural History and the Rubin Museum of Art, and is the author of Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology, winner of the 2011 Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award from the American Astronomical Society. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.

Introducer
Loren Williams, Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Georgia Institute of Technology

Loren Williams joined the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech in 1992 after completing postdoctoral research fellowships at Duke, Harvard and MIT. He is now a full professor and also the Director of a NASA Astrobiology Institute at Georgia Tech, whose goal is to chemically rewind the "tape of life" to the time before the last universal common ancestor of all living organisms.

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