Despite its tabloid title, Chris Impey’s Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes is a sober-minded, thoroughly researched and highly readable treatment of this multifaceted topic ... Mr. Impey, a veteran research astronomer and author, views black holes as a 'gift from the universe' ... The latter half of the book presents an array of thought-provoking topics, including gravity waves ('ripples in space-time'), primordial stars, the physics of the 2014 movie Interstellar and the feasibility of extracting energy from black holes.
Impey does an admirable job describing multiple facets of the often contradictory field of black hole astrophysics, including its history, science, and colorful human interactions ... Anyone who has read and enjoyed Kip Thorne's gold standard, Black Holes and Time Warps, will learn relatively little from Einstein's Monsters ... For the next generation of popular astronomy buffs, Einstein's Monsters is a reasonable entry point, covering a broad—if not particularly deep—range of theoretical and observational topics in black hole research. Particularly welcome, even for more experienced black hole aficionados, are the excellent chapters about the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory's recent discovery of gravitational waves and the Event Horizon Telescope's imminent discovery of black hole shadows ... Unfortunately, this prolific productivity is occasionally betrayed by factual errors in the text, especially in the more theoretical passages ... Certain passages, and even chapters, of Einstein's Monsters have a distinctly hap-hazard feel to them, throwing together a collection of topics without an obvious theme ...
Despite these few shortcomings, Einstein's Monsters will be sure to capture the imagination of most who pick it up, simultaneously convincing the reader that these monsters, while in fact quite certainly real, should be loved and not feared.
Readers do not need a deep understanding of astronomy to comprehend this accessible work ... Fans of popular science authors such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lisa Randall, and Mike Brown will enjoy this wonderful, accessible introduction to black holes.
Black hole research is now entering a realm of description (that Milky Way radio beacon is a black hole four-million times the mass of the Sun) and of cosmic prediction. Replete with explanatory diagrams, visualizations of black holes, and lively accounts of scientific personalities, Impey’s book will wow the general-interest science audience.
Impey skilfully weaves a fascinating tale out of the work and ideas of the scientists who, through a combination of observation, theory, computer simulations, and a large, healthy dose of speculation, pieced together the history of black holes by understanding the evolution of stars and how they can, depending on their mass, end up as white dwarfs, ultra-dense neutron stars, rapidly spinning pulsars or as an exploding supernova ... Impey looks into the far distant future, aeons from now, to see how black holes grow and are eventually starved to death as the universe expands and galaxies dissipate.
A lucid tour of 'the best known and least understood objects in the universe' ... A good writer as well as a specialist in black holes, Impey works hard and mostly successfully to illuminate complex phenomena without resorting to the TV documentary magic show (entertainment trumping explanation) and includes plenty of personal anecdotes, imaginative analogies, and useful illustrations. Readers who remember freshman college physics or astronomy will have an easier time, but few will regret encountering such irresistible astrophysical wonders.
Science writer and astrophysicist Impey...gives an absorbing and lay-reader-friendly look at the intriguing dead stars called black holes ... With clarity and enthusiasm, Impey describes the work of scientists ... In subjects including the supermassive black holes at the center of every galaxy and primordial black holes, Impey gives readers a good sense of how these phenomena have gone from astronomical curiosity to intellectual touchstones that fascinate and challenge researchers.