Andrew Crumey

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Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved

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Yale University Press 237pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

In 1756 troops of the nawab of Bengal overran a fort manned by British forces. The captured occupants were imprisoned in a cell where most died overnight from heat exhaustion. The precise numbers are unknown, but the Black Hole of Calcutta was a colonial horror story imprinted on the minds of schoolchildren over the next two centuries of British imperialism. The tale was well known to American astrophysicist Robert Dicke and, according to Marcia Bartusiak’s engagingly written scientific history, it was Dicke who transferred the term to those escape-proof cosmic dungeons that are the subject of her book.

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