Reviewed by Jean Worsley
Retired Biology Teacher
In this series the author examines the science behind this astronomical phenomenon, including history–making discoveries, relevant theories, and topics of current and future research. The author refers to black holes as “new kids on the block” because scientists began studying them only a few decades ago. They present a unique problem in that they cannot be observed because they absorb the energy around them.
Gravity is one of the fundamental forces in our universe and a major player in the concept of black holes. Black holes represent gravity’s control over mass and matter. Black holes are believed to be caused by collapsing and exploding stars. In black holes, the gravitational pull is so great that nothing can escape and that there is no light. Further research indicates that the speed of stars is influenced by black holes. A 16–year study by astronomers from Germany’s Max Plank Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics revealed empirical evidence that super–massive black holes (SMBH) containing millions of stars may exist. A launch scheduled for 2012 by the International X–ray Observatory (IXO) is designed to provide additional information about matter, energy, and black holes.
Introducing readers to terminology such as infinitesimal, supernova, astrophysicist, and nuclear fusion will help them grasp this mystery. A detailed historical narrative of inventions and contributions made by Newton, Mitchell, Einstein, Oppenheimer, Hawking, and others is presented. This narrative clearly illustrates how scientific progress is made and theories established as scientists in different countries examine the work of others to determine credibility and fallacies. This is indeed significant because it serves as an excellent introduction to the scientific method. Research is focusing on Hawking’s theory and may shed light on black holes and origin of the universe. Further, the speculation is made that colliders, such as the large Hadron Collider belonging to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), could act as “black hole factories”.
Another area of research involves quasars which may contain black holes. These are of immense interest because of the possibility of time travel on wormholes. Wormholes have been expounded in science fiction novels and in a sidebar. It is of interest to discover that this concept was proposed many years ago. Another idea hypothesized is an antigravity force that would stabilize wormholes.
Black holes remain a mystery as scientists seek clues to the origin of the universe and it has been suggested that they may ultimately provide a future source of energy. With its striking pictures, photos of scientists, and the author’s skillful use of color on pages, captions, and titles, this book will pique the imagination of young readers who may discover the secret of this mystery. The book consists of a table of contents with an introduction, four chapters, four asides, endnotes, web sites, a bibliography, and index. This is an excellent resource to introduce a mystery that cannot be observed.
Review posted on 9/5/2012