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The Sound Of Black Holes (VIDEO)

Black Holes Song

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 03/09/11 09:49 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:35 PM ET

According to Janna Levin, a professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College, the universe is not silent--it may have a soundtrack.

Black holes, which Levin writes "may be heard but not seen," could be among space's noisemakers.

So what might they sound like?

Levin has created a clip that that captures what her research suggests may be the pitch and rhythm of black holes' "song," which is played out in space in the form of gravitational waves.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Levin compared the sound to "someone knocking on the door, or mallets banging on a drum."

Levin, who spoke at the 2011 TED conference, explained the potential for her research, which, though abstract to many, could potentially reshape our understanding of the universe and our place within it.

"Understanding our origins...advances us as a species," she told the Huffington Post. "After Copernicus, the world changed in ways we couldn't possibly have predicted. Understanding the Big Bang and black holes and where we are in the scheme of things will have that effect."

Just as telescopes opened our eyes to new and numerous galaxies, comprehending the sounds of space could reveal novel elements all but impossible to predict.

"We're on the cusp of turning on the first telescopes for sound," Levin said. "It's a whole other world out there, who knows what lurks that can't be seen."

Listen to the "sounds of two black holes ringing space" below. Learn more about Levin's work here.

Levin writes of the clip: "There is no sound in empty space. But when the gravitational waves hit the Earth, detectors in the next few years will measure the stretching and shrinking of space and will be able to amplify the result as sound. To hear the sounds of two black holes ringing space, play the movie [below]."

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