Janna Levin

Janna Levin

Professor of Physics and Astronomy


Physics & Astronomy


Office Hours ALT 514
Tuesday & Thursday 12:00-1:30pm
Altschul 505


Janna Levin joined the Barnard faculty in January 2004. Professor Levin's research focuses on theories of the early universe, chaos, and black holes. She is also interested in the topology of the universe and the question of whether or not the universe is infinite. Other research topics include the cosmology of extra dimensions and string cosmology.

Professor Levin has conducted research at the Center for Particle Astrophysics (CfPA) at University of California, Berkeley, as well as the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics, Cambridge University, U.K.

While in England, she also had an appointment as the first scientist-in-residence at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing at Oxford, supported by an award from the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and Arts (NESTA).

Professor Levin writes and publishes for both scientific and general audiences. Her novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, won the PEN/Bingham Fellowship for Writers, an award which "honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work ... represents distinguished literary achievement..." and the Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work. It was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award for "a distinguished book of first fiction."

She is also the author of three popular science books, How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space, Black Hole Blues, and most recently, Black Hole Survival Guide.

  • B.A., Barnard College
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Theoretical physics
  • History of physics

“Dynamics of Black Hole Pairs I: Periodic Tables,” gr-qc/0809.3838, with R. Grossman (accepted for publication, Physical Review D, in press).

“Dynamics of Black Hole Pairs II: Spherical Orbits and the Homoclinic Limit of Zoom-Whirliness,” gr-qc/0811.3798, with R. Grossman (accepted for publication,Physical Review D, in press).

“A Periodic Table for Black Hole Orbits,” with G. Perez-Giz, Physical Review D77, 103005 (2008); gr-qc/0802.0459.

"Dark Energy and Stabilization of Extra Dimensions" (with B. Greene), J. High Energy Phys. 11 (2007)

"Cosmological Moduli Dynamics" (with B. Greene, et al.), J. High Energy Phys.07 (2007)

A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (Knopf, 2006)

"Chaos and Order in Models of Black Hole Pairs," Phys. Rev. D 74 (2006)

"Lorentz-boosted Circles-in-the-sky," Phys. Rev. D 70 (2004)

How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space (Anchor, 2003)

"Lyapunov Timescales and Black Hole Binaries" (with N.J. Cornish), Classical and Quantum Gravity 20 (2003)

"The Fate of Chaotic Binaries," Phys. Rev. D 67 (2003)

"Comment on 'Ruling out chaos in compact binary systems' " (with N. J. Cornish), Phys. Rev. Lett. 89 (2002)

"Topology and the Cosmic Microwave Background," Phys. Rept. 365 (2002)

"The Twin Paradox in Compact Spaces" (with J. D. Barrow), Phys. Rev. A 63 (2001)

"Gravity Waves, Chaos, and Spinning Compact Binaries," Phys. Rev. Lett. 84 (2000)

"Gravity Waves from Relativistic Binaries" (with R. O'Reilly and E. J. Copeland),Phys. Rev. D 62 (2000)

"Fractals and Scars on the Compact Octagon" (with J. D. Barrow), Class. Quantum Grav. 17 L1 (2000)

In The News

Looking up and into outer space, students, faculty, and staff gathered to revel in the latest celestial show.

April 8, 2024

The Barnard junior explores infinity and beyond at a major scientific conference. #CelebrateAAPIHeritageMonth


May 6, 2022