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Einstein's Monsters: The Life and Times…
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Einstein's Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes

by Chris Impey

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233708,371 (5)None
"The astonishing science of black holes and their role in understanding the history and future of our universe. Black holes are the most extreme objects in the universe, and yet they are ubiquitous. Every massive star leaves behind a black hole when it dies, and every galaxy harbors a supermassive black hole at its center. Frighteningly enigmatic, these dark giants continue to astound even the scientists who spend their careers studying them. Which came first, the galaxy or its central black hole? What happens if you travel into one--instant death or something weirder? And, perhaps most important, how can we ever know anything for sure about black holes when they destroy information by their very nature? In [this book], distinguished astronomer Chris Impey takes readers on an exploration of these and other questions at the cutting edge of astrophysics, as well as the history of black holes' role in theoretical physics--from confirming Einstein's equations for general relativity to testing string theory. He blends this history with a poignant account of the phenomena scientists have witnessed while observing black holes: stars swarming like bees around the center of our galaxy; black holes performing gravitational waltzes with visible stars; the cymbal clash of two black holes colliding, releasing ripples in space-time. Clear, compelling, and profound, Einstein's Monsters reveals how our comprehension of black holes is intrinsically linked to how we make sense of the universe and our place within it. From the small questions to the big ones--from the tiniest particles to the nature of space-time itself--black holes might be the key to a deeper understanding of the cosmos."--Dust jacket.… (more)

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Einstein’s Monsters focuses on the most awesome objects in the universe, black holes. Author Chris Impey dives deep into the history of our understanding of these fascinating celestial bodies.

As we all know, a black hole is the final evolution of a star with a certain level of mass. Our own local star, the Sun, will never become a black hole. It just doesn’t have enough mass to do so. Stars are nuclear fusion ‘engines,’ they convert the mass of the star into radiation capable of balancing out the power of gravity. Eventually, that fuel runs out and the star stops shining. This could end up in one of three ways. With a star of the mass of around our Sun, it will become a White Dwarf, a star that is slightly larger becomes a Neutron Star, and a star of even greater magnitude becomes a black hole.

Anyway, Impey does an excellent job of explaining what a black hole is and how we realized that they exist. Throughout the book, he explains how exactly these theories came to pass and were developed. The black hole as a concept existed ever since we understood the idea of Escape Velocity. A black hole is a region of space that has warped to the point where it is cut off from the rest of the universe. The gravity of the black hole is so powerful that even light cannot escape it. At the core of the black hole is the singularity, a point of supposedly infinite density blocked off from the rest of the universe by the event horizon.

Since it talks about the life and times of black holes, it covers the whole gamut of what we know without going into the field equations and so on.

The book is really interesting and enjoyable. It is also recent enough to acknowledge the death of Steven Hawking. I would recommend it if you are interested in stuff like this. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Amazon Best of the Month
  MarianneAudio | Feb 11, 2019 |
An astronomer's account of the past and current state of the astronomy of black holes, both stellar-mass and supermassive. The story of how gravitational-wave detectors have been added to the panoply of "telescopes" is well told. The main text is often rather heavily peppered with references to endnotes, many of which are research-literature citations but others of which are too full of extra content to skip.
  fpagan | Jan 30, 2019 |
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