Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) (英語) ペーパーバック – 1995/1/1
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Which of these bizarre phenomena, if any, can really exist in our universe? Black holes, down which anything can fall but from which nothing can return; wormholes, short spacewarps connecting regions of the cosmos; singularities, where space and time are so violently warped that time ceases to exist and space becomes a kind of foam; gravitational waves, which carry symphonic accounts of collisions of black holes billions of years ago; and time machines, for traveling backward and forward in time.
Kip Thorne, along with fellow theorists Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, a cadre of Russians, and earlier scientists such as Oppenheimer, Wheeler and Chandrasekhar, has been in the thick of the quest to secure answers. In this masterfully written and brilliantly informed work of scientific history and explanation, Dr. Thorne, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech, leads his readers through an elegant, always human, tapestry of interlocking themes, coming finally to a uniquely informed answer to the great question: what principles control our universe and why do physicists think they know the things they think they know? Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time has been one of the greatest best-sellers in publishing history. Anyone who struggled with that book will find here a more slowly paced but equally mind-stretching experience, with the added fascination of a rich historical and human component.
Among the best of [its] genre to appear in recent years.--Malcolm W. Browne
Deeply satisfying.... [An] engrossing blend of theory, history, and anecdote.
Superb. It is what many other books about their subject ought to have been and were not.... I think the book itself will be a strong force.--Carl Sagan
Readers seeking to go beyond today's headlines will not find a higher authority (or a better storyteller) to discuss the cosmo's most bizarre features...Masterful and intriguing.--Marcia Bartusiak
Black Holes & Time Warps reveals the scientific enterprise as very few books do; it richly overflows with history, modern physics, the excitement of discovery, and rare, firsthand scientific styles and temperaments.--Alan Lightman
So, I’ve read most of them out there. This, by far, is my favorite. It boils it down so that a former infantryman like myself can make sense of all the big words without turining it into a coloring book simplification of particle physics.
I’ve bought it four times already because I keep giving them away to people.
I’d give it six stars if I could.
The closest book that comes to mind is “Voyages of Delusion – The Quest for the Northwest Passage” (Glyn Williams, 2002). Both books describe the efforts of explorers to discover new realms, and thus make for fascinating “real-life-is-better-than-fiction” tales of adventure. But “Black Holes and Time Warps” is much more – it is a book about the physical universe that actually exists, but which we are incapable of experiencing on a personal level. It strikes just the right balance of history and science, without becoming just another lame attempt to describe complex physical concepts to laypersons without any background in math or science.
This book is also a grand tour of 20th century physics, not unlike a Rick Steves tour of Europe. That is, not an exhaustive guide, but rather presented in a way that someone with a bit of scientific background can easily follow the development of the relevant subject matter. (If one wants an in-depth version of the subject of 20th century physics, then I recommend “The Road to Reality” (Roger Penrose, 2004), but be prepared for quite a bit of math. Start with “Black Holes and Time Warps” – if that gets you hooked, then try Penrose.)
This book is exceptionally well written, and the text is accompanied by excellent diagrams which help to explain the subject matter. The author makes frequent cross-references to other parts of the book to ensure that the reader can follow the narrative (and the science) in a seamless manner. If you are interested in this subject, this is an excellent place to start your journey.
I only wish that there were a “25th Anniversary Edition” of this book, incorporating some of what has been discovered about black holes (and other related topics) since this book was first published way back in 1994. (As but one example, the discovery in 2015 of gravitational waves by the LIGO detector, in which the author was critically involved – see Ch. 10.) Such an update could easily be accomplished by the addition of a “Recent Discoveries” chapter, without having to fundamentally alter the underlying primary text (other than perhaps an occasional footnote to the effect of, “but see Ch. 15 for recent developments on this subject”).
Eventually the black Seminoles fought beside their kinsmen, defeating the United States Army in the first (1817-1818), second (1835-1842), and third (1855-1858) Seminole wars. The Seminoles were never defeated and to this day, technically and even though Seminoles fought for the United States in the First and Second World Wars, a state of war exists between the United States and the Seminole people.
Some of the black Seminoles, led by Chief John Horse, left with other Seminoles, transported by the U.S. army to Oklahoma. From there many migrated to Mexico and eventually many of those returned to fight on the side of the Union during the Civil War. It should not be surprising to learn that these black Seminole soldiers were not paid for their Civil War service and were denied pensions, despite promise of this recompense by the United States.
I highly recommend this book; its extensive research is well documented. It’s clearly written. It tells a very important part of the black history of the United States, and in particular a history of Florida, a history of Oklahoma, a history of the Civil War, a history of a resilient, proud, strong, intelligent people.
Those of you who’ve read The Speed of Life, an Illustrated Novel know about the principal characters who are part black, part Seminole. My preparatory research for The Speed of Life included reading a lot of history as well as a lot of travel and personal investigation. Wanting my characters to have verisimilitude, I had to know their history. The Black Seminoles was one of the more interesting books I read as part of that research.
This book was published in 1994 and I wish I had started reading it then. Kip is 20 years ahead of his time. And as a writer, he can talk you through this at a level of understanding of black holes with what we’re dealing with. I will be back for more input as this is a keeper and will read it front to back.