The book’s focal character is Shep Doeleman, director of the EHT [Event Horizon Telescope] project, whose career arc forms the answer to the author’s question 'What sort of person makes it his life’s work to build an Earth-size telescope to take a picture of a black hole?' As Mr. Fletcher’s narrative reveals, Mr. Doeleman’s single-minded pursuit of Sagittarius A* makes Capt. Ahab look like a piker ... Einstein’s Shadow is an intimate portrayal of a 'Big Science' enterprise whose aspirational, at times contentious, practitioners share 'a restless energy, a tolerance for risk and discomfort, and a gnawing need for validation.'
In Einstein’s Shadow, journalist Seth Fletcher provides a twisting narrative ... Einstein’s Shadow gives a feel for what it takes to image a black hole, thanks to Fletcher’s accounts of researchers scrounging for funding, pleading for telescope time and wishing for good weather ... Telescope upgrades and malfunctions get detailed explanations in the book. Astronomy buffs will probably enjoy those passages, but others may find them a bit dull. That feeling, however, may put readers in astronomers’ shoes—science sometimes can be slow.
This engaging narrative ... [gives readers] a front-row seat to the action ... The explanations of astrophysics topics are clear, and Doeleman’s challenge is a compelling one: he is in a race to secure funding, get international cooperation from observatories around the world, and beat the clock, as there is only a small window (a few weeks in spring) when everything is aligned for the perfect shot—and that’s only if the weather cooperates at all of the sites. Captivating and informative, this text will appeal to those with an interest in the topic and to general readers alike.
Fletcher's telling of the quest to gain access to and manage the telescopes making up the EHT has readers sharing in the anxiety of harsh weather events and equipment malfunctions but also in the jubilation of hard-won data. Fletcher manages to humanize a complicated scientific project while providing readers with a comprehensive guide to the cosmos ... Recommended for all readers interested in astronomy, general science, the nature of scientific collaboration, or humanity's search to understand the universe.
Fletcher...falls short in his attempt to engage readers in the story ... He starts intriguingly, by grounding the project in human vanity ... Unfortunately, despite the author’s best efforts, making the phenomenon of black holes comprehensible proves an uphill battle. Unlike the best popular science books, this narrative doesn’t make the scientific concepts sufficiently clear to the lay reader.
A veteran science journalist builds a fascinating narrative ... With stakes this high and writing this lucid, readers will be drawn into the narrative as easily as matter being drawn toward the event horizon itself. The hypotheses, experiments, team-building, and bureaucratic wrangling that Fletcher so beautifully describes perfectly encapsulate modern science, and it’s a rare treat to have an insider’s look at an ongoing endeavor this monumental. The author also includes a helpful guide to acronyms and abbreviations and a cast of characters.