Black holes, those poetic, mind-bending regions of space from which nothing escapes, not even time, were first described centuries ago, but their existence was scientifically confirmed only within the past few decades. A black hole’s effect on space can be profound – and profoundly weird! – yet their fundamental physics and math are surprisingly simple to describe. This Master Class explores the theory of black holes from the 18th century to the present; the evidence astronomers have for their presence; the impact they have on the history of the universe and our galaxy; and what might happen if you tumble into one.
Charles Liu is a professor of astrophysics at the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island, and an associate with the Hayden Planetarium and department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He received the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award for his book One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos.