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A Brief History of Black Holes: And why nearly everything you know about them is wrong

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Black Holes are the universe’s strangest and most fascinating objects—Dr. Becky explains all, and why nearly everything you know about them is wrong. Right now, you are orbiting a black hole. The Earth goes around the Sun, and the Sun goes around the centre of the Milky Way: a supermassive black hole—the strangest and most misunderstood phenomenon in the galaxy. In A Brief Black Holes are the universe’s strangest and most fascinating objects—Dr. Becky explains all, and why nearly everything you know about them is wrong. Right now, you are orbiting a black hole. The Earth goes around the Sun, and the Sun goes around the centre of the Milky Way: a supermassive black hole—the strangest and most misunderstood phenomenon in the galaxy. In A Brief History of Black Holes University of Oxford astrophysicist Dr. Becky Smethurst charts the scientific breakthroughs that have uncovered the weird and wonderful world of black holes, from the collapse of massive stars to the iconic first photographs of a black hole in 2019. A cosmic tale of discovery, you’ll learn: why black holes aren’t really ‘black,’ that you never ever want to be ‘spaghettified,’ how black holes are more like sofa cushions than hoovers, and why beyond the event horizon, the future is a direction in space rather than in time. Full of wit and learning, this captivating book explains why black holes contain the secrets to the most profound questions about our universe.


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Black Holes are the universe’s strangest and most fascinating objects—Dr. Becky explains all, and why nearly everything you know about them is wrong. Right now, you are orbiting a black hole. The Earth goes around the Sun, and the Sun goes around the centre of the Milky Way: a supermassive black hole—the strangest and most misunderstood phenomenon in the galaxy. In A Brief Black Holes are the universe’s strangest and most fascinating objects—Dr. Becky explains all, and why nearly everything you know about them is wrong. Right now, you are orbiting a black hole. The Earth goes around the Sun, and the Sun goes around the centre of the Milky Way: a supermassive black hole—the strangest and most misunderstood phenomenon in the galaxy. In A Brief History of Black Holes University of Oxford astrophysicist Dr. Becky Smethurst charts the scientific breakthroughs that have uncovered the weird and wonderful world of black holes, from the collapse of massive stars to the iconic first photographs of a black hole in 2019. A cosmic tale of discovery, you’ll learn: why black holes aren’t really ‘black,’ that you never ever want to be ‘spaghettified,’ how black holes are more like sofa cushions than hoovers, and why beyond the event horizon, the future is a direction in space rather than in time. Full of wit and learning, this captivating book explains why black holes contain the secrets to the most profound questions about our universe.

30 review for A Brief History of Black Holes: And why nearly everything you know about them is wrong

  1. 4 out of 5

    ¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪

    Me every time a new book about black holes gets published: *squealing intensifies* I had such a good time reading this book, yes there was a lot of history and some back and forth and maybe some chapters could have been a bit lighter, but overall it was explained so easily and thoroughly, and the sense of humour was so wholesome and nerdy that I was captivated from the first page. I especially loved the paragraph in which the author talked about her own research; I wish there was more of that, it Me every time a new book about black holes gets published: *squealing intensifies* I had such a good time reading this book, yes there was a lot of history and some back and forth and maybe some chapters could have been a bit lighter, but overall it was explained so easily and thoroughly, and the sense of humour was so wholesome and nerdy that I was captivated from the first page. I especially loved the paragraph in which the author talked about her own research; I wish there was more of that, it would have felt even more personal. I'm not an astronomer but I have read my fair share of science books, and trust me when I say that this one is worth it. I wish more people talked about this, because I'm firmly convinced that the most important thing when learning about science as an amateur is to keep up to date with the new discoveries that are made every day, and this book was published in 2022 so the information it contain is pretty much as up-to-date as it gets.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    Black holes are a perennially interesting topic, so anyone writing a book about them needs to provide a new angle - a USP, if you like. For this mostly interesting book, Becky Smethurst has gone for 'why everything you know about them is wrong.' This reflects the several common misconceptions about black holes, even though some of these have been so thoroughly debunked already that it's hard to believe there are too many left who hold them. We start with an introduction to the nature of stars, br Black holes are a perennially interesting topic, so anyone writing a book about them needs to provide a new angle - a USP, if you like. For this mostly interesting book, Becky Smethurst has gone for 'why everything you know about them is wrong.' This reflects the several common misconceptions about black holes, even though some of these have been so thoroughly debunked already that it's hard to believe there are too many left who hold them. We start with an introduction to the nature of stars, bring in gravitational wells and neutron stars and get on to black holes themselves - though we soon discover they are not black, one of those misapprehensions alongside the idea that they are super gravitational vacuum cleaners, inevitably destroying everything nearby. We're told that black holes don't suck, which is sort of true as we explore the warping of space and time - though the distinction between gravitational attraction and sucking is perhaps fairly trivial if you get too close to a black hole. Overall, then, what we get here is a fairly high level, approachable introduction to the nature of black holes, where they come from, the role of the supermassive variety in galaxies and more. Smethurst is a little hazy on some aspects of history - for example, she says that it wasn't until the 1920s that some nebulae were considered to be galaxies, even though Herschel, amongst others, had suggested this significantly earlier. Also, and how many times do we have to say this, she repeats the myth that Giordano Bruno was the first to suggest the the stars were suns in their own right - he appears to have got the idea from Nicholas of Cusa. It is also worrying that Smethurst seems to put those who 'challenge the existence of dark matter' on a par with flat earthers - 'It came about after over three decades worth of observations and research pointed to no other plausible conclusion' - this simply isn't true. The reality is that dark matter particles have never been detected, while modified gravity theories arguably explain more than dark matter does. Both theories have flaws, but at the moment, it's all too common for popular astronomy/astrophysics books like this to give a casual dismissal of anything but those elusive particles. That simply isn't good science. As is also common with cosmology/astrophysics books in particular (for some reason), there is a degree of perkiness to the presentation that becomes a little wearing. Take, for instance, this opener to a chapter: 'The recipe for making a black hole is theoretically very simple, yet in practice rather difficult. Essentially, throw enough matter into a small enough space, crush it down and voila! A black hole will result.' So far, tolerable. But then Smethurst changes gear and gives us: 'Now I can't speak for everyone, but my puny noodle arms definitely aren't strong enough to crush matter down in this way, and I imagine neither are yours. I'm sure even veterans of the recipe game like Mary Berry would struggle to follow that one.' It's the kids' TV presenter's approach to science writing, which doesn't sit well with an adult audience. This is a perfectly likeable book, but in a crowded marketplace, it struggles a little to stand out.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    "Black holes don't suck!" If you take nothing else with you from this book, I think that's what Smethurst would want you to remember. They are not "endless hoovers." Nor are they black, but rather the brightest shining objects in the universe. Sort of. "Dr. Becky," as the author names herself, has quickly become my favorite astrophysicist. And she doesn't disappoint with this book. It's packed full of easily digestible science - which says something considering the ridiculous scale and complexity "Black holes don't suck!" If you take nothing else with you from this book, I think that's what Smethurst would want you to remember. They are not "endless hoovers." Nor are they black, but rather the brightest shining objects in the universe. Sort of. "Dr. Becky," as the author names herself, has quickly become my favorite astrophysicist. And she doesn't disappoint with this book. It's packed full of easily digestible science - which says something considering the ridiculous scale and complexity of what she tackles here! It is of course not because I'm brilliant and totally get it, but because she is really, really good at communicating it in a way that makes it both understandable and relatable. All the while managing to not infantilize me. In fact, if anything, she brings herself down to a dorky nerd-level of fantasy and Disney references - not to mention a few Taylor Swift mentions - that makes her all the more relatable. And then she knocks us flat on our asses, wowing with science. It's a fantastic combo! This "Brief History of Black Holes" is of course primarily a history of our own discovery and understanding of the phenomena, coupled with a deep dive of the science of black holes themselves. It's a fascinating and captivating history of Smethurst's own field. And it's a reminder of how young the field is. How much we've learned in such a short time, how much we have yet to learn, and how much we can never learn. Black holes, after all, will forever be mysteries. We can't study the data that can't escape. But oh how fascinating that which we can study is - I'm just glad there are smarty people out there who study this, with the talent to make it both entertaining and informative for us plebes. Not only do I put this book down a more knowledgeable human being, I had a blast acquiring that knowledge. It all comes down to the author's ability to make something this dense ( :D ) truly enjoyable and funny. Awesome, read it!! Oh, and this is someone who loves what she does, her enthusiasm for the subject... it shines as brightly as a black hole! To her, at least, black holes really do not suck - in any way, shape, or form. In fact, she thinks it would be kinda cool if we had one right here in our solar system. And maybe we do have just that...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lis Carey

    Becky Smethurst is an astrophysicist with a great love of black holes, and a desire to share her enthusiasm for them with the rest of us. She tries to cover, concisely but with absorbing detail, everything important about them, starting with the important facts that they're not black, and they're not holes. They're not black because an active black hole has an accretion disk which generates a great deal of light and other radiation. They're not holes, because that absolute darkness inside the acc Becky Smethurst is an astrophysicist with a great love of black holes, and a desire to share her enthusiasm for them with the rest of us. She tries to cover, concisely but with absorbing detail, everything important about them, starting with the important facts that they're not black, and they're not holes. They're not black because an active black hole has an accretion disk which generates a great deal of light and other radiation. They're not holes, because that absolute darkness inside the accretion disk isn't a void. It's an immensely dense accumulation of matter, usually many, many times the mass of a star--certainly our star. Smethurst compares black holes to mountains, which I find not personally satisfying, but entirely reasonable. More unexpected is her comparison of black holes to sofas; things get swallowed up and lost in them, never to be recovered. But this isn't just a book of what we should compare black holes to (she says she prefers "dark stars," but admits that's a lost chance), but their history, formation, development, and possible end. The formation of stellar mass black holes is, apparently, pretty well understood. If a collapsing star at the end of its life is massive enough, when it collapses, it will collapse not into a neutron star, but a black hole. The problem is supermassive spring holes. There simply doesn't appear to have been enough time since the birth of the universe for supermassive black holes to form. And yet, we're now reasonably certain that every galaxy has a supermassive black hole at its center. Where do they come from? Perhaps from the collision of smaller black holes? It's one of the things Smethurst looks at. She also discusses the first detection of gravity waves, the first picture of a black hole, and the fact that black holes will, eventually, evaporate. They'll evaporate very slowly, though, and only after they've stopped growing, and it's not at all clear that the largest black holes will have time to evaporate before the end of the universe, depending on what sort of end the universe is going to have. However, we do still have a shot at finding a primordial black hole, very small in size, which might have had time to evaporate. If we detect that, we may be able to detect Hawking radiation, which we're unlikely to be around to detect from any supermassive black hole. There's lots of fascinating information in this book, and Smethurst has both an engaging enthusiasm, and a lively sense of humor. She also has a good reading voice, which overall makes this a wonderful book to listen to. Recommended. I bought this audiobook.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    This was PHENOMENAL! I 100% recommend the audiobook version - it is read by the author and is quite simply a joy. I am not in any way shape or form an astrophysicist or a space nerd, but Dr. Smethurst deftly and delightfully relays all the information in this book in a way that is easy to understand. I loved hearing her passion come through this audiobook; I just can't get over how much fun this was to read! This was PHENOMENAL! I 100% recommend the audiobook version - it is read by the author and is quite simply a joy. I am not in any way shape or form an astrophysicist or a space nerd, but Dr. Smethurst deftly and delightfully relays all the information in this book in a way that is easy to understand. I loved hearing her passion come through this audiobook; I just can't get over how much fun this was to read!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lonneke

    I have been fascinated with astrophysics for a few years now, and try here and there to get some information on it that doesn't require me diving into the whole mathematics of it. This book did exquisitely. There were Taylor Swift references, which, I mean, that's all I need to give a book 5 stars. But in all seriousness, it's so informative without being difficult to follow. I would recommend you have a little bit of an interest in physics, because there are some basic concepts that'll just go I have been fascinated with astrophysics for a few years now, and try here and there to get some information on it that doesn't require me diving into the whole mathematics of it. This book did exquisitely. There were Taylor Swift references, which, I mean, that's all I need to give a book 5 stars. But in all seriousness, it's so informative without being difficult to follow. I would recommend you have a little bit of an interest in physics, because there are some basic concepts that'll just go over smoother if you have some prior knowledge, but even if you know nothing this book is an absolute joy. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author herself, and it was amazing. You could feel and hear her enthusiasm about the topic through every sentence and every word. Highly recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in black holes, astronomy, and/or astrophysics!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Hodge

    4 🌟!!! 𝗔 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗽𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲 - 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗮𝘁𝗼𝗺𝘀 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗯𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻’𝘁 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 ‘𝗯𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗸’, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗿 𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗱𝘀… I loved this book! Not only because I’m a scientist and space enthusiast but also because it was just enjoyable to read. You do not need to be an astronomer or astrophysicist to understand what’s happening in this book. The author is really great at putting physics into the most simplest terms so that almost anyone could grasp 4 🌟!!! 𝗔 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗽𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲 - 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗮𝘁𝗼𝗺𝘀 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗯𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻’𝘁 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 ‘𝗯𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗸’, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗿 𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗱𝘀… I loved this book! Not only because I’m a scientist and space enthusiast but also because it was just enjoyable to read. You do not need to be an astronomer or astrophysicist to understand what’s happening in this book. The author is really great at putting physics into the most simplest terms so that almost anyone could grasp hold of the basics. The chapter titles gave me a smile, especially once you realise why they’re named what they are. The humour is neatly chucked into the book at just the right moments - Dr Smethurst has also made ‘spaghettification” my new favourite word. “𝑩𝒍𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒏𝒐𝒕 ‘𝒃𝒍𝒂𝒄𝒌’ 𝒂𝒕 𝒂𝒍𝒍: 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒆𝒏𝒅 𝒖𝒑 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒐𝒃𝒋𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒖𝒏𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒆. 𝑺𝒐 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒓𝒆 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂 𝒃𝒐𝒐𝒌 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝑹𝒐𝒃𝒆𝒓𝒕 𝑯. 𝑫𝒊𝒄𝒌𝒆’𝒔 ‘𝒃𝒍𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒆𝒔’, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒚 𝒃𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒎𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒔” I think I tabbed this book more than a typical fiction book! There’s so many new terms and cool analogies to focus on. My favourite being the analogy that we’re all made out of stardust or ‘supernova poop’. If you have any interest in space, the planets or just the universe itself, you HAVE to read this book! I’m already on my fourth space documentary after reading this… the obsession has begun…. 🪐

  8. 5 out of 5

    Leo

    TW: mentions of misogyny in the field of science Incredibly accesable and the audiobook was an amazing experience with the auther obviously in love with her topic(s) and reading it in a fun conversational tone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Никола Грънчаров

    Great, but a bit oversimplified There are many great peaces of information, but I guess the target audience are people without any knowledge about physics and astronomy. For that people I guess this book will be perfect.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bob Conrod

    Fantastic read or in my case a listen. Having read my first book about black holes back in the middle’s 1970s when I was about 13 or 14 the subject still fascinates me. And who better to write a book about this subject than someone who is obviously also enthralled by it. I am a fan of Dr. Becky‘s YouTube channel and was happy to listen to this audiobook and even more so because it was she herself who narrated it. Having the author narrate their own book Is great for the listener. While many narr Fantastic read or in my case a listen. Having read my first book about black holes back in the middle’s 1970s when I was about 13 or 14 the subject still fascinates me. And who better to write a book about this subject than someone who is obviously also enthralled by it. I am a fan of Dr. Becky‘s YouTube channel and was happy to listen to this audiobook and even more so because it was she herself who narrated it. Having the author narrate their own book Is great for the listener. While many narrators do their job very well to them it is still a job. With Dr. Berkey narrating her own book you could hear the passion and her love for the subject matter making the experience even better. As much as I would’ve loved to have read it on paper my situation living in China is one that makes it difficult to get books delivered in a timely manner. I was very happy to be able to get the audio version so that I could in emulation of a black hole voraciously consume the knowledge within. I read / listened to it in just a day.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Simon Bennett

    A very interesting and informative book, I learned quite a lot that I didn't know. I've been watching Becky's videos on YouTube for a while now and enjoy the way she explains things and her quirky sense of humour. This carries over into this book, lots of the Becky you see on YouTube explaining things in a clear and detailed way. The footnotes also add a personal touch to the book as well as adding that extra bit of detail and a bit of humour. Black holes.... Or should I say dark stars? Have inte A very interesting and informative book, I learned quite a lot that I didn't know. I've been watching Becky's videos on YouTube for a while now and enjoy the way she explains things and her quirky sense of humour. This carries over into this book, lots of the Becky you see on YouTube explaining things in a clear and detailed way. The footnotes also add a personal touch to the book as well as adding that extra bit of detail and a bit of humour. Black holes.... Or should I say dark stars? Have interested me for many years. Who knows what is inside them or what their true purpose is? We'll probably never know, but this book takes you from the formation of stars, the science behind them, how they become black holes (as well as why they don't) up to supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies, with a lot more inbetween.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sam Rice

    Dr. Smethurst does a wonderful job of writing accessibly and engagingly about truly cutting-edge science. This book introduces the reader to a high-level survey of what we currently know about black holes, debunks some common misconceptions, and lays out some fascinating areas we are still studying. Black holes certainly serve as the focus of this book, but throughout the work Dr. Smethurst ends up touching on numerous foundational astronomy and astrophysics concepts. What’s more, the footnotes Dr. Smethurst does a wonderful job of writing accessibly and engagingly about truly cutting-edge science. This book introduces the reader to a high-level survey of what we currently know about black holes, debunks some common misconceptions, and lays out some fascinating areas we are still studying. Black holes certainly serve as the focus of this book, but throughout the work Dr. Smethurst ends up touching on numerous foundational astronomy and astrophysics concepts. What’s more, the footnotes are both entertaining and informative, brimming with personality. You can feel the pure enthusiasm for knowledge and our collective exploration of the universe permeating every page. In short, I loved reading this book. If you like space and astronomy, even if you’re not technically inclined, this book will likely do the same for you.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carter

    great read on the history of black holes The book does a great job providing the historical context for our current understanding of black holes from the perspective of a practicing astrophysicist. The practicing astrophysicist part is important because the author describes a lot of the instruments and experiments used to make the discoveries and this context is sometime missing from history of science works. Further, the author provides numerous footnotes that provide a good deal of color and h great read on the history of black holes The book does a great job providing the historical context for our current understanding of black holes from the perspective of a practicing astrophysicist. The practicing astrophysicist part is important because the author describes a lot of the instruments and experiments used to make the discoveries and this context is sometime missing from history of science works. Further, the author provides numerous footnotes that provide a good deal of color and humor to the topic. This appropriate for those without a strong quantitative background and for former physics students (like myself) and would probably be of interest to experts even if just for the footnotes.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Christie

    From understanding why our sun shines until the death of a black hole. The book truly brings you to a journey of our understanding about black holes, a short documentary of humanity, trying to understand one of the most misterious, fascinating objects in the universe; hence, the title of the book: The Brief History of Black Holes. The author is able to balance the trade-off between simplicity of the concept and complexity of the details. The passages are easy to understand and yet the physics beh From understanding why our sun shines until the death of a black hole. The book truly brings you to a journey of our understanding about black holes, a short documentary of humanity, trying to understand one of the most misterious, fascinating objects in the universe; hence, the title of the book: The Brief History of Black Holes. The author is able to balance the trade-off between simplicity of the concept and complexity of the details. The passages are easy to understand and yet the physics behind are actually not a trivial things to follow. In some chapters, you can feel the excitement of the author through her words; it is contagious and excites me too! I trully enjoyed reading this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    JD Shaffer

    A most excellent book! Dr. Becky does an excellent job not only summarizing the complete history of black holes and all the included sciences, but she does so in an amusing and engaging way. My own knowledge of the history of black holes and astrophysics stopped at around 1995 when I changed from a science major (interested in HEAP) to an English major. (Yeah, my mathematical ability was that bad, it was pretty much hopeless.) I very much enjoyed the post 1995 bits and am encouraged to pick up my H A most excellent book! Dr. Becky does an excellent job not only summarizing the complete history of black holes and all the included sciences, but she does so in an amusing and engaging way. My own knowledge of the history of black holes and astrophysics stopped at around 1995 when I changed from a science major (interested in HEAP) to an English major. (Yeah, my mathematical ability was that bad, it was pretty much hopeless.) I very much enjoyed the post 1995 bits and am encouraged to pick up my HEAP studies once again, if only for personal satisfaction. Dr. Becky, thanks for the great book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zohaib Shehzad

    It's a 5 star from me even just after 1 chapter. The way author is explaining everything for a beginner, it's awesome. I just started reading it and couldn't stop. Can't understand what is driving some readers to give 2, 3 stars. If someone has prior knowledge of black holes then why the heck they would pick this book in the first place and then criminally comment that this is not for adults or it's simplified. The title already makes it's clear that it's a brief history and not some thesis on n It's a 5 star from me even just after 1 chapter. The way author is explaining everything for a beginner, it's awesome. I just started reading it and couldn't stop. Can't understand what is driving some readers to give 2, 3 stars. If someone has prior knowledge of black holes then why the heck they would pick this book in the first place and then criminally comment that this is not for adults or it's simplified. The title already makes it's clear that it's a brief history and not some thesis on new findings of an up and coming astrophysicist. I suggest people should read and understand the title carefully and comment accordingly instead of review bombing afterwards.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter Caron

    Just finished reading ABHOBH. Wonderful, insightful, informative, and entertaining; not usually what you get in a 'science' book. It is written, with Dr Smethurst's well-known self-deprecating humour among with her passion for the subject. It is truly contagious. She takes a complex subject and presents it in easy to understand prose making the book accessible for anyone interested in astrophysics, black holes, or who just wants to better understand what they are seeing when they stare up at the Just finished reading ABHOBH. Wonderful, insightful, informative, and entertaining; not usually what you get in a 'science' book. It is written, with Dr Smethurst's well-known self-deprecating humour among with her passion for the subject. It is truly contagious. She takes a complex subject and presents it in easy to understand prose making the book accessible for anyone interested in astrophysics, black holes, or who just wants to better understand what they are seeing when they stare up at the night sky. Highly recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Diego

    If like me, when reading a book such as "A Short History of Nearly Everything" (by Bill Bryson), what peaks your interest especially, is the history of who, when and how we came to the information... Then this book should be right up your alley, as every single fact that is presented to us is well detailed in these regards. It's really a pleasure to read all the way through, and the information itself is also enthralling. The new things that I learned were fascinating, and even re-reading about t If like me, when reading a book such as "A Short History of Nearly Everything" (by Bill Bryson), what peaks your interest especially, is the history of who, when and how we came to the information... Then this book should be right up your alley, as every single fact that is presented to us is well detailed in these regards. It's really a pleasure to read all the way through, and the information itself is also enthralling. The new things that I learned were fascinating, and even re-reading about the stuff that I was already versed in, kept and enhanced my curiosity.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andreas Rütten

    A wonderful entertaining, informative, astonishing book about Black Holes. Smethurst takes us on a journey through the history of those strange radiation emitting objects in the universe and the hundreds of small steps taken to reveal their nature and secrets. She has the ability to track down highly complicated astrophysical phenomens to small bits, comprehandable even for non scientists. This book is fun to read and has new informations, inviews, perspectives and questions, that leave the reader A wonderful entertaining, informative, astonishing book about Black Holes. Smethurst takes us on a journey through the history of those strange radiation emitting objects in the universe and the hundreds of small steps taken to reveal their nature and secrets. She has the ability to track down highly complicated astrophysical phenomens to small bits, comprehandable even for non scientists. This book is fun to read and has new informations, inviews, perspectives and questions, that leave the reader happy and confused. Pure entertainment.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charles LaCour

    An enjoyable read It is written in Dr Becky’s usual fun communication style while covering the topics in a clear and accessible manner. While it is accessible to the non physicist it is still an interesting read for someone who has a fair amount of knowledge about astrophysics and Black Holes. It covers many topics that help understand what Black Holes are and how our understanding of them was pieced together.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Graham

    A great book covering this technical subject in an easy to adsorb manner. Becky has a chatty, familiar approach to the subject which makes you feel that she is sitting around a fire talking about her favourite subject. A few caveats though; the subject is skimmed through at a high level so you miss out on some subjects, for example, how does a black hole "spin". Also, the book is quite short and almost half of it is given over to footnotes, so expect a quick read. A great book covering this technical subject in an easy to adsorb manner. Becky has a chatty, familiar approach to the subject which makes you feel that she is sitting around a fire talking about her favourite subject. A few caveats though; the subject is skimmed through at a high level so you miss out on some subjects, for example, how does a black hole "spin". Also, the book is quite short and almost half of it is given over to footnotes, so expect a quick read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    I loved this book! It’s brief, informational and accessible to everyone. I highly recommend listening it as an audiobook for the full experience of the joy, love and passion the author has for the space and black holes. The author is witty, funny and passionate and listening to her will make you smile and feel like an 5-year old first discovering that dinosaurs existed and now world seems a better place.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bill Gibson

    Easy to read update and history of what we do and do not know Written in her voice, easy to follow history of what we know about this universe, filling in the basics of the past few decades, and offering a glimpse into what the author is working on. Valuable for the detailed outlines of the evidence and theory for the general public, so far as possible without the math. She did a better job of explaining Hawking than he did, I think!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Wow! I sped thru this book and now feel like I need to go back and have another listen. Dr. Becky Smethurst made this topic one you don't want to just "Shake It Off". I will re-read this book in the future which is something she makes me think about. I like a good book that makes me think about my world, the universe and beyond. Wow! I sped thru this book and now feel like I need to go back and have another listen. Dr. Becky Smethurst made this topic one you don't want to just "Shake It Off". I will re-read this book in the future which is something she makes me think about. I like a good book that makes me think about my world, the universe and beyond.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Khoa

    Super fascinating. Will probably prompt you to wiki all the famous people, equations, theories, and terminologies. Dr. Becky tried to have simple explanations for a lot of things about blackholes, but I still don't get it. Some parts were hard to read ("without enough energy the electron escapes the atom entirely and becomes ionised" (?)) Super fascinating. Will probably prompt you to wiki all the famous people, equations, theories, and terminologies. Dr. Becky tried to have simple explanations for a lot of things about blackholes, but I still don't get it. Some parts were hard to read ("without enough energy the electron escapes the atom entirely and becomes ionised" (?))

  26. 5 out of 5

    Greg Herringer

    That was a great listen! I’m already familiar with Dr Becky’s YouTube channel and her energy and enthusiasm transfers well to audiobook format. Always a guessing game as to how many naughts she’d string together in some of the more obscure measures and constants. If you are interested in astrophysics - or heck just the night sky in general - this is the book for you.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Catie

    If you’re a fan of Dr Becky’s YouTube channel, as my husband I are, I highly recommend the audiobook version, which is read by the author. I love any audiobook read by its author, especially one like this where the humor and nerdiness that we love from her YouTube channel shines through.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aurora Lovegood

    4.5 stars. This is a review for the audiobook and from an astrophysics student. Very accesible book on black holes narrated by the author, who by the way, has a very interesting YouTube channel. I enjoyed it a lot. One of the best reads of 2022

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gina Lynette

    Brilliantly written and genuinely approachable work by one of my very favorite astrophysicists. Yes, you can have favorite astrophysicists. The audio book is read by the author and is very well done.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aj Euscher

    Really good book! I learned so much about black holes even though I already knew a lot about them. Loved Dr Becky's way of describing things and especially enjoyed that she narrated the audiobook. Heavy recommend for people who like space stuff Really good book! I learned so much about black holes even though I already knew a lot about them. Loved Dr Becky's way of describing things and especially enjoyed that she narrated the audiobook. Heavy recommend for people who like space stuff

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