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Black Holes & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  10,306 ratings  ·  184 reviews
Ever since Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity burst upon the world in 1915 some of the most brilliant minds of our century have sought to decipher the mysteries bequeathed by that theory, a legacy so unthinkable in some respects that even Einstein himself rejected them.

Which of these bizarre phenomena, if any, can really exist in our universe? Black holes,
Paperback, 624 pages
Published January 17th 1995 by W. W. Norton Company (first published September 22nd 1994)
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Kyle In a way, it's nice reading it and knowing that since it's publish date, many of the theories have been validated by now.

Gravitational Waves for…more
In a way, it's nice reading it and knowing that since it's publish date, many of the theories have been validated by now.

Gravitational Waves for example, are a topic of discussion, and we have only just observed them in the past year or so. (less)

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Travis Hull
Mar 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Want to learn what happens to stars when they die, but you lack a post-doc in astrophysics? You've come to the right place. Thorne has done an excellent job of putting just about anything you'd want to know about the topic in layman's terms, but the math and physics is also there if you want it. He blends the science and the history together and comes up with an interesting read not only about what we know about stellar death, but how we got there. In the last chapter he presents some of his own ...more
Jose Moa
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kip S. Thorne is one of the most important researchers in gravity and black holes.

I this book,after a introductin as a sf short tale where a spaceship goes to the evet horizon of different sizes of black holes to investigate,the author explains clearly the principle of relativity is to say that the physical laws are the same in all inertial reference frames,this priciple is the origin of the special relativity theory (the special relativity theory could have been discovered many year
Taha Ansari
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. What a masterpiece!
Thoroughly detailed without being overly complicated. Kip Thorne, a recent Nobel laureate awarded for his immense contributions in gravitational wave detection, goes through the most important junctures in 20th century physical research, explaining along the way the most important concepts in relativistic physics. After detailing Einstein’s endeavors to formulate the two theories of relativity and establishing his field equations, and qualitatively explaining them
Steve Walker

This classic was first published in hardback in 1994. It is one of the best books written on the topic by one of the key players in the field. This book stands out for a number of reasons: 1)quality of the writing,
2)An excellent bibliography, and 3) very well done illustrations. I have lost count of the number of astronomy books published in the last 14-20 years with poor quality photos or drawings. I wish Dr. Thorne would write a revision of the based on the recent discoveries made by the

Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Black Holes

Kip Thorne is an eccentric author who reveals scientific enterprise of quantum gravity and black holes research in a simple language. This book is rich in history, and classical (Newtonian physics and theory of relativity) and modern physics (quantum mechanics) are presented in non mathematical form. We get rare first hand insights of scientific styles and temperament, and his personal involvement in various aspects of black holes
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had read Einstein's book "The Evolution of Physics" (reviewed) and with the introduction that he supplied, felt I was ready to fall into black holes. I had seen a cover blurb describing Kip Thorne's book (subtitle: Einstein's outrageous legacy) as exemplary science writing and, though it is somewhat dated (1993) bought a used copy.

Thorne wastes no time, initially taking the reader on a visit to black holes of various sizes, though widely separated in distance, in our galaxy. Relati
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Kip Thorne, author of Black Holes and Time Warps, is one of three Nobel laureates for Physics of 2017. He and his colleagues Barry Barish and Rainer Weiss have been honored for their contribution to the observation of gravitational waves. In September 2015 physicists were able to measure those gravitational waves – which are an experimental reassurance of Einstein’s general theory of relativity – for the first time in history.
Thorne wrote this book in 1993 and therefore twenty-two years before t
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scients, physics
In this book, Thorne tried to write a pop-science book giving the state of play in theoretical astrophysics (in 1995, so obviously a bit dated) but at the same time making it accessible to the non-practitioner. He presents the development of physics up to the then-present day in a combination of theoretical sidebars and some very basic mathematics held together by character sketches, anecdotes, and biographies of those involved.

My father bought this for me in about 2001, just after I
Peter Tillman
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-tech
Kip Thorne, the Feynman Professor of Physics at Caltech, is best known to the general public for his 1988 wormhole "time machine" proposal. Press coverage included a photo of the author doing physics in the nude on Mt. Palomar. "Embareassing," but didn't hurt the book sales. The wormhole work grew out of a request from Carl Sagan for a plausible FTL transport scheme for his 1985 science-fiction novel Contact (which I recommend). Sagan's request made Thorne realize the value of thought experiment ...more
Jan 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have always been interested in anything related to quantum physics. I didn't expect this to be an easy read but I didn't really expect to have any problem getting through it since I've been researching this type of stuff since I was in 8th grade. I underestimated this book. It's written in a way that's fairly easy to understand, but the theories themselves were giving me a hard time. If you are interested in learning more about black holes and time warps and are willing to reread every paragra ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
This book is one of the finest work I have come across till date in terms of the content and clarity for any layman with an interest in Physics. Brilliant to the core. It is Kip Thorne's tour de force to form an account of the history and the details about black holes and study on the nature of spacetime in terms of classical & quantum analysis. He being the pioneer in gravitational wave detection strategies and expert in black hole & wormhole theories , some chapters are more like is pe ...more
Bob Nichols
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book about gravity and black holes seems more like a detailed history of the last 100 years of physics, particularly the effort to unite quantum mechanics with Einstein's relativity theory. Throughout the book, Thorne discusses the personalities of the titanic thinkers involved and this provides the reader with a welcome relief from the long, technical story about black holes (for most, probably more information than you want to know).

Thorne refers to spacetime "fabric," but it's not clear
James F
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
My only problem with this book (apart from its being twenty years old) is the title; wormholes and "time machines" are discussed briefly in the last 45 pages, but the book is actually a popular account of every aspect of black holes, at an above-average level of popularization -- about as high as one could expect without much mathematics.

Thorne, whose field is general relativity, begins with two chapters outlining special and general relativity -- Einstein's "legacy". The third chapter explains
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is an eye-opening book for gravitational physics, even for physics students trained in GR as it covers very broad topics and development of general relativity and black hole physics.

What's nice to this book is that it has a lot of personal elements - how different important figures are different in their characters and the way they guide their students and how they come to accept and reject certain ideas, or even how certain people gets attention or not by the community by virtue
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy may not be as popular as A Brief History of Time, and Kip Thorne may not be much of a household name in comparison with that of his colleague Stephen Hawking, but I would think that this book is a much better read. It contains much more information about the historical developments of Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, as well as the legacies that have been left behind in the discovery of neutron stars, black holes and ...more
George Moore
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What is remarkable about this book is that it stays relatively current, even after twenty years. The controversy on black holes has come to a pitch recently, with wild new theories and denials. The hard science, however, is here, and is laid out in a way that is accessible for common readers. I have to say, after reading a few other popular science works on cosmology, Thorne has a unique way of keeping the subject clear, and building a real suspense into the discovery and understanding of each n ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-read
Although it's slightly outdated now and there have been theories proven and disproved since its publication, I would recommend this book to anyone with a keen interest in Physics regardless of their background knowledge. The book delves into the history of how Einstein changed the way Physicists viewed the Universe, the controversy it caused, and the discoveries of many other Physicists from around the world.
Loved it!
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book .....I recommend this to almost everyone, Has a lot of concepts cleared, Love the Astronaut Story in the beginning, Scientific concepts put in the most elegant way, Must read for everyone, After reading this book.......You will want to know more about the subject
Ahmed Samir
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. Very good simplification of a number of physic concepts. Does need a basic understanding of gravity and an idea of stellar masses before attempting to read and fully grasp concepts.
Lora Carney
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not what you would call an intellectual and I've never studied Physics, but I found this book easily accessible and even fascinating. I decided to read it because it was cited as one of the sources for the science behind a time travel series I follow, and I wanted to try to grasp the very real science behind the fictional events in the stories.

The book basically tells the story of the rise of Cosmology and Particle Physics since the 1920s, explaining in layman's terms the leading
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good read. Black holes: when and where the idea was stated and how and into what it evolved.. A tale of the strangest thing in the universe.
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
One of the best, most clear set of reasons and reflections I’ve ever read. Everything he writes is brilliant.
Mauricio Cardona
Dec 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-1
I'm on page 66 and basicly it's taliking about the newtonian's physical laws and how a guy tried to find a flaw in the law witch states that light is measured the same and depends on motion so this guy is michelson and he created a technique that now is known as michelson's interferometry and he measures light in aether in every season and finds out that they all come out to be the same measurements.

I'm on page 100 and this chapter was about the general retaivity that states th
James Jordan
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review of Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy
By Kip S. Thorne.

Dr. Thorne was a winner of the 2017 Noble Prize in physics, a winner of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Physics, the Albert Einstein Medal in 2009 from the Albert Einstein Society, and the Niels Bohr Medal in 2010 from UNESCO (among many other significant awards). He is the Caltech Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus.

You can read summaries of his life, his work, and his awards here,,
Simon Mcleish
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in August 2000.

Picador has the makings of a most interesting series of popular science books. The idea is to get a personal picture on topics of current interest, written by prominent characters involved in the research. However, as a series, it rather shoots itself in the foot by omitting any listing of the other books; this one merely mentions that there are four earlier volumes, information of absolutely no help in identifying them.

Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book, and makes me wish I had become an astrophysicist. I've read a handful of books on the subject of cosmology and physics but where those have fallen short, Professor Thorne has achieved excellence. Other books present current theories (of the author usually) without much substantiation (not quite as fact though), which is understandable due to the typically advanced and/or esoteric mathematical underpinnings. Thorne overcomes this without beating the reader to death with ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, science
This book tells the story of the science of black holes (despite the title, "time machines" feature only in the last chapter, where it is concluded that they most likely cannot exist). It follows the chronological development of the theory, blending biographical facts about the leading scientists and their research environment with easy to follow non-technical explanation of the results. There is not a single formula in the main body of the text, but you still get a good conceptual grasp of what ...more
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love books about physics, particularly books that attempt to explain our universe and its contents. In a parallel universe, one in which my math skills were quite a bit better, I would have become a physicist and joined in the effort to understand everything.

In this universe, I am limited to satisfying my curiosity with physics books written for the lay reader.

This was a particularly good one. It starts with Einstein's discovery of special and general relativity, and continues thr
Philip Gordon
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was just going into high-school, and in sparked a long interest in astrophysics and quantum mechanics. Thorne explains difficult to parse concepts with an engaging and understandable voice, using numerous examples, while not afraid to delve into the nitty-gritty physics and math if necessary. His mention of a bet with Hawking was especially amusing, since Hawking brought it up in one of his own books (as well as the fact that Thorne seemed to have sealed the deal).
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it
I bought this book in 2003 randomly, but never had the chance to read it until recently. The writer who is a scientist describes throughout this book the different discoveries made by different scientists that shape our understanding of what black holes are; their properties, existence and behaviour. There are photographs of people and illustrations and graphs explaining different concepts like space-time, hyperspace, Doppler shift etc. To me some concepts were a bit hard to understand for examp ...more
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Kip Thorne is the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at Caltech, an executive producer for Interstellar and author of The Science of Interstellar, and the author of books including the bestselling Black Holes and Time Warps Einstein's Outrageous Legacy. He lives in Pasadena, California.
“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth,” 8 likes
“Why are black holes so different from all other objects in the macroscopic Universe? Why are they, and they alone, so elegantly simple? If I knew the answer, it would probably tell me something very deep about the nature of physical laws. But I don’t know.” 0 likes
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