Front CoverBlack-hole Chronicles: Chasing the Gravitational Beast” is the tag-line/title of MFAW-VT faculty ember Richard Panek’s reviews of Einstein’s Monsters by Chris Impey and Einstein’s Shadow, by Seth Fletcher–both on the .  subject of black holes (and, not incidentally, Albert Einstein) in the new issue of Nature.Image result for einstein's shadow

Here’s the opening of the review:

“In the late nineteenth century, physicist Ernst Mach wrote that when Isaac Newton published his theory of gravity in his book Principia (1687), it disturbed his fellow natural philosophers. The reason? It “was founded on an uncommon unintelligibility”: two objects interacting without physical contact. Mach was trying to show how an affront to common sense gains respectability through familiarity. By his own era, gravity had become “common unintelligibility”.

Black holes — gravitational beasts that warp space and devour light — have undergone a similar trajectory. In the 1980s, they still seemed like science fiction. Since then, advances in technology and theory have transformed them into scientific (near) certainties. Now, two books — Einstein’s Monsters by astronomer Chris Impey, and science journalist Seth Fletcher’s Einstein’s Shadow — trace that transition without losing sight of how weird their subject is.”