• A Brief History of Black Holes

  • And Why Nearly Everything You Know About Them Is Wrong
  • By: Dr Becky Smethurst
  • Narrated by: Dr. Becky Smethurst
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (270 ratings)

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A Brief History of Black Holes

By: Dr Becky Smethurst
Narrated by: Dr. Becky Smethurst
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Publisher's Summary

Right now, you are orbiting a black hole.

The Earth goes around the Sun, and the Sun goes around the centre of the Milky Way: a supermassive black hole—the strangest and most misunderstood phenomenon in the galaxy.

In A Brief History of Black Holes University of Oxford astrophysicist, Dr Becky Smethurst charts the scientific breakthroughs that have uncovered the weird and wonderful world of black holes, from the collapse of massive stars to the iconic first photographs of a black hole in 2019.

A cosmic tale of discovery, you’ll learn: why black holes aren’t really ‘black’, that you never ever want to be ‘spaghettified’, how black holes are more like sofa cushions than hoovers, and why beyond the event horizon, the future is a direction in space rather than in time. Full of wit and learning, this captivating book explains why black holes contain the secrets to the most profound questions about our universe.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2022 Dr Rebecca Smethurst (P)2022 Macmillan Publishers International Limited

Critic Reviews

"A jaunt through space history...with charming wit and many pop-culture references." (BBC Sky At Night Magazine)

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Becky is the British Neil Degrasse Tyson!

I 1st saw her Youtube videos after the James Webb Space telescope launched and immediately got hooked.

She's an incredible educator, she makes everything understandable & even fun to learn about! This book is no exception.

I'm starting with this book but will probably wind up checking out all of her Audiobooks! Keep it real Dr. Becky! (Can I get a shout-out in your next YouTube video?! :-D)

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Amazing!!!!

Dr. Becky is an incredible astrophysicist and her books are just like her YouTube videos, easy to follow and excellent learning tools no matter what level of knowledge you have. Her way of taking complicated science and making it easier for literally anyone to digest is such a breath of fresh air. I'm at about a medium level of knowledge on astrophysics and she constantly teaches me something new and keeps me excited to keep learning more. Don't sleep on her, she's amazing.

I wish she had done another signing of shipped books like with her last book because I'd have loved to get one for my coffee table books! I'm already excited for her next book. BUY THIS BOOK, you won't be disappointed.

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  • JS
  • 11-28-22

Black Holes, Today

Lots of historical details combined with the latest research findings. Many contributors to the BOK are identified and introduced. Easy to follow along without prerequisite knowledge. Very thorough. Visualizations are simple, but effective. Best of all, for me, is the corrections to earlier theories and descriptions of black holes. The actual nature of black holes (as presented here) is quite different from my previous understanding. I am edified. If you want to gain confidence in your understanding based on the latest research, this will provide it. Nicely done.

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I get it now!

This is a great book. It makes understanding black hole physics much easier than I thought possible.

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Interesting, Informative, Understandable

Dr. Becky Smethurst brings her knowledge and enthusiasm into the book so well I could almost picture her facial expressions as she read. This would be a good starting book for anyone interested in astrophysics, especially a teen interested in science.

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Fun and interesting!

Narrated by the author, who has an excellent voice and clear diction. Absolutely worth a listen.

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Great entry into black hole knowledge.

The author has a YouTube channel that I have been enjoying for many years. She has a rare talent, even among other science communicators, of taking a complex subject and explaining it so the average layperson can understand. If you have any interest in this fascinating subject, I do not think you will be disappointed by this book. If you still have doubts, check out her YouTube channel. If you enjoy the way she explains things there, you will enjoy this book.

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Excellent!

This book makes the wonderful and amazing science of black holes accessable to anyone with the willingness to wonder and ask why.

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My favorite astrophysicist

I had a few driveway moments where I did not want to stop listening. Reading book is nice but hearing an author put her personality into it is so much better. I especially like the way a Brit pronounce zero as naught. Then to pronounce 0.0000001 produces many naught naught, …. There’s plenty of great astrophysicist history as background to the black holes. I also love her many references to women in science.

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Great read

Dr. Becky did a wonderful job on this. Her writing does a great job of explaining the concepts without dumbing them down.
also, her narration was perfect!

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  • Giles A Wheeler
  • 09-01-22

Great introduction to black holes

Got this on release. On a long flight so I listened to it (all 7 hours) from beginning to end and was sufficiently gripped I didn't fall asleep on the plane. Dr Becky has made a name for herself as a science YouTuber and her comfort with presentation comes through in her performance.

And nice chapter names....very amusing

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  • Nick73
  • 11-19-22

Better than Prof Cox attempt

a far insightful and interesting explanation compared to Prof Cox recent addition. if you can read both.

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  • Bookworm Pete
  • 11-07-22

Current Knowledge of Blackholes

This is an excellent overview of the history of understanding of blackholes and where our knowledge currently sits. Dr Becky Smethurst has written a wonderful book and her enthusiasm shines through both in the words and in her narration. I thoroughly enjoyed this, learned a lot and will certainly be listening to it again.

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  • Millie
  • 11-07-22

Excellent book

Really informative and very clearly read out. I learned so much about black holes. Will need to listen to it a few times to digest all the info though.

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  • Joe
  • 11-03-22

Excellent

This is the ultimate companion to the Super Massive Black Hole drinking game. Enjoy

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  • Bob Conrod
  • 10-24-22

Fantastic read (or listen)

I found this book great to listen to as I expected it would be. I am a fan of Dr. Becky‘s YouTube channel and this book did not disappoint. Having read a couple of books about black holes previously, my first being back when I was about 14 in 1976, I still found this to be enlightening. It’s obvious from the writing that Dr. Becky really loves her work and loves this subject in particular. As black holes fascinates me as well she was the perfect author and perfect narrator for the audio version as her enthusiasm is infectious

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  • Steve Croucher
  • 10-13-22

Very easy to listen to

I enjoyed listening to Dr Becky’s book. Explaining some difficult science so even I could understand and remain interested. It wasn’t just the content but her style as well. A serious study may require the paper version though, but that’s not to be unexpected considering the subject matter.

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  • MR P S CAMPBELL
  • 10-12-22

Wow!

The enthusiasm of the subject matter from the author is infectious. Brilliantly written for those of us who need a bit of hand holding with Physics. Highly recommended.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-30-22

amazing

a very good book that makes some complicated science easy to absorb. I loved it

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  • Patrick Kerley
  • 09-28-22

An absolutely magestic work

This book is incredibly fun and engaging, purely because Dr. Becky goes on tangents and makes extra comments and references to pop culture! It's more a conversation with a friend than it is an audiobook

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  • douggyi
  • 11-02-22

As enjoyable and accessible as I expected it to be

"A Brief History of Black Holes" is a long-form version of what makes Dr Becky the popular and highly-regarded scientist and communicator her YouTube subscriber count suggests. If you've watched even a short segment of any of Becky's online offerings you will be familiar with her enthusiasm and love for astrophysics and general astronomy.

Being able to listen to the author narrate her latest book was a boon and helped to keep me pressing on even when I was struggling with the matter at hand, if you'll pardon the pun. Despite my love of science in general and astronomy in particular, I too often end up exhausted from the mental exercises required to understand the concepts that astrophysicists and cosmologists discuss around the proverbial water-cooler, let alone write papers about. Dr Becky has a very practiced gift of serving up scientific facts so that the reader/listener is eager to leave a clean plate and still want more, even if some of the morsels were a bit hard to chew and digest. I've come away from listening to the Audible version of this book possessing a better understanding of what black holes are and aren't, and reckon I could have a good crack to trying to explain the concepts to others.

The only downside of the book was that, having never read nor watched any Harry Potter titles, I had to run to Wikipedia to look up some of the cultural references Dr B used. As well as knowing more about black holes, I've now heard of Sirius Black!

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  • Carlos Rozo
  • 10-26-22

An engaging and enjoyable introduction to BHs

Loved it. Engaging science understandable to all. We need more books like this one.

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  • Rimalard
  • 09-23-22

No holes barred!

Great insight to complex topics in a highly digestible presentation. Dr Beccy was engaging for the whole book.

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  • Josh Ferguson
  • 09-20-22

Excellent

Great book good flow and heaps of good information. DR Becky keeps you entertained while giving you so much to take in. Highly recommended, looking forward to your next book. :)

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  • Nathan Daly
  • 09-17-22

Amazing!

I can't wait to hear/read more from Dr Smethurst! If you like space, you'll love this book.

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  • Matt Dillon
  • 09-14-22

Bringing astrophysics books into the present day

There are a lot of great books/audiobooks on astrophysics out there; specifically for introducing people with a low to mid-level understanding of basic physics and astronomy. This book is a great addition to that collection and will bring you right up to 2022.

Dr. Becky shows that she is up there with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and even Carl Segan in the top astrophysics authors for the public.

I listened to this immediately after Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and, whilst the books start with a similar beginning, they complement each other perfectly.

I have enjoyed the several times I've already listened to this and will enjoy it many more times, still.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-07-22

Dr Becky Smethurst is a GENIUS Science Communicator!

If you are an amateur star gazer or a astrophysics fan you MUST listen to A Brief History of Black Holes. Dr Becky will wrap your brain in the most understandable but awesomely brilliant concepts that will have you thinking “I really get it now!”💡

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  • Albert Sjoberg (PA)
  • 09-05-22

A wonderful introduction to black holes.

This is an interesting listen. It worked well while driving and only occasionally did I feel the need to go back and listen to a section again.
I have also purchased the Kindle version, as my son prefers reading to listening.