Gravity’s Engines


Gravity's EnginesI’m reading Caleb Scharf’s awe-inspiring Gravity’s Engines: The Other Side Of Black Holes at the moment (yeah, a bit of light reading for the daily commute).

It’s amazing stuff.  I thought I knew a bit about cosmology and black holes, but it seems there’s been all kinds of new science going on behind my back!  As well as the fearsome engines of destruction seen in most science fiction black holes are also guardians of creation, too, regulating star formation and creating some of the most remarkable displays in the universe.

It’s amazing what you can discover on the 8.16 to Cannon Street!

Scharf also points out something else remarkable (to me, at any rate).  We should be thankful that the speed of light is finite.  The universal speed limit of 186,000 miles per second is not necessarily the annoyance that decades of science fiction had taught me.

Because light travels at a finite speed we can see the universe as it was thousands, millions and even billions of years ago.

If light speed was infinite then we’d know next to nothing about the evolution and strangeness of the cosmos – we’d see everything as it is now.  As it is, we can look deep into the night sky with our telescopes and see the universe as it was.

If you think about it, that’s one hell of a gift.

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3 thoughts on “Gravity’s Engines

  1. gkorula February 19, 2013 / 2:16 pm

    I’ll definitely be getting this book for the husband. Today being Copernicus’ 504th birthday (good ol’ google) i was thumbing through ‘On the Shoulders of Giants’ by Stephan Hawking, so completely over my head but at the same time fascinating to read the original works of the greats.

    • StuPC February 19, 2013 / 3:12 pm

      There’s no maths in it at all, but Scharf has a great way of describing things that we can barely even imagine – acknowledging their mind-boggling size and grandeur, whilst at the same time complimenting the human minds that discovered them.
      Your husband would love it, I think – as would you!

      • gkorula February 20, 2013 / 1:40 am

        Hmmnn…no maths – he loves the maths bit (like i’ve said before – geek). Me not at all. But i’ll be looking out for this book

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