Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes

Empire of the Stars Obsession Friendship and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes In August on a voyage from Madras to London a young Indian looked up at the stars and contemplated their fate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Chandra as he was called calculated that certain stars

  • Title: Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes
  • Author: Arthur I. Miller
  • ISBN: 9780618341511
  • Page: 115
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In August 1930, on a voyage from Madras to London, a young Indian looked up at the stars and contemplated their fate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Chandra, as he was called calculated that certain stars would suffer a strange and violent death, collapsing to virtually nothing This extraordinary claim, the first mathematical description of black holes, brought Chandra intoIn August 1930, on a voyage from Madras to London, a young Indian looked up at the stars and contemplated their fate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Chandra, as he was called calculated that certain stars would suffer a strange and violent death, collapsing to virtually nothing This extraordinary claim, the first mathematical description of black holes, brought Chandra into direct conflict with Sir Arthur Eddington, one of the greatest astrophysicists of the day Eddington ridiculed the young man s idea at a meeting of the Royal Astronomy Society in 1935, sending Chandra into an intellectual and emotional tailspin and hindering the progress of astrophysics for nearly forty years Empire of the Stars is the dramatic story of this intellectual debate and its implications for twentieth century science Arthur I Miller traces the idea of black holes from early notions of dark stars to the modern concepts of wormholes, quantum foam, and baby universes In the process, he follows the rise of two great theories relativity and quantum mechanics that meet head on in black holes Empire of the Stars provides a unique window into the remarkable quest to understand how stars are born, how they live, and, most portentously for their fate is ultimately our own , how they die It is also the moving tale of one man s struggle against the establishment an episode that sheds light on what science is, how it works, and where it can go wrong Miller exposes the deep seated prejudices that plague even the most rational minds Indeed, it took the nuclear arms race to persuade scientists to revisit Chandra s work from the 1930s, for the core of a hydrogen bomb resembles nothing so much as an exploding star Only then did physicists realize the relevance, truth, and importance of Chandra s work, which was finally awarded a Nobel Prize in 1983 Set against the waning days of the British Empire and taking us right up to the present, this sweeping history examines the quest to understand one of the most forbidding phenomena in the universe, as well as the passions that fueled that quest over the course of a century.

    One thought on “Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes”

    1. This book is a sort of history of Astrophysics in the 20th century, centered on a seminal theory proposed by Dr. Subramanyam Chandrasekhar in 1930, which later came to be the theory of black holes. But the young 21-year old Indian is ridiculed publicly in Cambridge by the eminent Sir Arthur Eddington. This ridicule damages Chandra's psyche for good, for life in fact. The book is the story of intrigue, racism in scientific circles in Britain in the mid 20th century and its effect on Chandra. Late [...]

    2. I found this book to be an interesting insight in the the development of our understanding of the stars- how they live, how they shine, how their size affects their death, and the eventual acknowledgement of Black Holes.It follows a sort of biographical style, focusing on Chandrasekhar and his development in the Scientific community, the racial struggles he came across and how these affected both his scientific and personal life.I enjoyed reading this book immensely and would recommend it if the [...]

    3. Not enough about the obsession, friendship, racism & changing culture. Not even enough about Chandra. Too much about the science which would have been fine if it was clearer.

    4. This book tells a fascinating tale in the life and work of Indian-American Nobel Laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, or Chandra as he came to be known. Beginning with his early childhood in Madras, the book is primarily focused around the personalities and politics involved in Chandra's brilliant discovery surrounding the death of stars. In 1935, Chandra postulated that for a star of small mass, the white dwarf stage is an initial step to its eventual extinction. However, for stars of larger m [...]

    5. I was in a café reading this book, when the waitress asked what I was reading. I showed her the cover. She said, ‘I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t read it.’I said nothing in reply to this. But what I really wanted to say was, ‘I doubt it. You’re probably thinking of something far more exciting.’The subtitle for this book reads: friendship, obsession and betrayal in the quest for black holes.I think the premise promises more than it delivers. I think it could be a really fascinating [...]

    6. This book can be best characterized as a "pop" science/astronomy book about the struggles of Chandrasekhar despite the rejection of his theory by Sir Arthur Eddington in 1935. This book does a great job of capturing the process of science and perhaps, some of the ego bruising arguments that sometimes hinder progress. In 1935 Eddington felt that his life's work was being destroyed by Chandrasekhar's theory on Black holes and attacked Chandra's work - as he often did to theories he didn't approve, [...]

    7. This pop science book tells the story of the life cycle of stars and the discovery of black holes. In particular, it focusses on the feud between Sir Arthur Eddington and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (Chandra). Chandra had concluded that white dwarves have a maximum mass, leading to the conclusion that a star above that mass would contract infinitely into a black hole. When he delivered a paper on this to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1935, Eddington subjected him to public humiliation and rid [...]

    8. Portrait of the life and times of this less known modern physicist. Chandra was ostracized by the english academy for a theory later proven true. The theory, placed a limit on the mass of white dwarf stars, beyond which suggests implosion and the formation of black holes.Good overview of major developments in Astrophysics, and quantum physics. Portraiture seems limited by source material, for instance his romantic life glossed over and romanticized. Always good to read about the magic of physics [...]

    9. This book inspired me to go into astrophysics for my bachelor's degree. At the time, I was trying to decide between biotechnology and physics, and this book helped push me over the edge. Not only is it about the science community eventually accepting black holes as a reality, it also is a treasure trove of information about several leading scientists. It is very informational, but not so much so that the reader feels overwhelmed. I would recommend it to anyone with a love for science and history [...]

    10. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (nicknamed Chandra) in 1930 discovered that stars exceeding a certain mass would evolve into a black hole. This solution seemed preposterous to the leading astrophysicist of the time Arthur Eddington, who publicly scorned the idea. Chandra went on to other topics in astrophysics, only to see the idea revived several decades later. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983 for his pioneering work.

    11. Contra the billing only about the first third of this is Chandra and Eddington. The rest is the standard story of black holes and the H bomb. And we don't learn anything new because all of Eddington's correspondence was destroyed.Go read Black Holes and Time Warps instead.

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