Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved
by Marcia Bartusiak
Yale University Press, 2015 (($27.50))
The concept of black holes arose from general relativity, yet Albert Einstein himself assumed that they could not exist in nature: he postulated that some unknown aspect of stellar physics would keep matter from condensing to a state so extreme that even light could not escape its gravitational pull once drawn in. Yet scientists now accept that such deformations of spacetime actually exist. Science writer Bartusiak's book traces the crooked path black holes took through the history of science, from their first quasi incarnation within Newton's laws, through general relativity, to today's understanding that black holes inhabit the cores of nearly all galaxies. The narrative features intriguing cameos from many of history's well-known physicists, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, who advised graduate students that general relativity was a dead end years after writing the first, largely ignored, modern description of a black hole in 1939.