When I saw the picture, the final conclusive evidence, of the existence of black holes, I got out my long-held copy of “A Brief History of Time”, authored by the late, great Stephen Hawking, and reread the chapters on black holes, so called because their gravity is so great even light cannot escape. One chapter was entitled “Black Holes”, but the second chapter was entitled “Black Holes ain’t so Black”.
His book was of course an automatic best-seller, because every scientist, and I guess especially astronomers, both professionals and amateurs, which I am one, went out and got a copy of it. And we were all overwhelmed by his genius; many of us didn’t even finish the book because of that genius. Simply owning the book was “cool”; owning it made people think you were a genius – you understand Hawking??!!!
But Hawking’s book would put anyone’s mind to rest about physics being a terribly complicated. Yes, its a fact that physics has generally been favoured by fairly brilliant people, but Hawking tries to dispel any suggestion of “elitism” by using very common comparisons and by not being afraid of making more than a few jokes in the book.
Admittedly, when I first read the book maybe twenty-five years ago, I was among many who had to close the book before I finished it because I simply didn’t understand much of what Hawking was saying. His ideas and concepts were simply considered that brilliant.
While not knocking his brilliance even now, I have reread the book perhaps with my own increasing confidence and understanding.
In fact, one of the great benefits to science these days is that we have many science writers, not just science journalists who play their own important role, but actual scientists to recognize the benefits of writing about often complex science in terms easy to understand.
We used to insult this process by calling it a “dumbing down”, when it should be called an “educational enlightening”.
I don’t think Hawking wanted science to be seen as “elite” in any sense of that word. Hawking has passed away, just of course as Einstein died in 1955. But there are, and will be, plenty of others.
Don’t be afraid to get a copy of his book and read it; you will be educated, and entertained.
The picture of a black hole confirms Hawking’s work.
What other incredible science discoveries are to be made?