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Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) Paperback – January 17, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0393312768 ISBN-10: 0393312763 Edition: Reprint

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thorne, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at CalTech, here offers an accessible, deftly illustrated history of curved spacetime. Covering developments from Einstein to Hawking, he takes his readers to the very edge of theoretical physics: straight through wormholes--and maybe back again--past hyperspace, "hairless" wormholes and quantum foam to the leading questions that drive quantum physics. He even addresses the tabloid taunt that has tantalized him since 1988: Do quantum laws allow time travel? (In his foreword, Hawking suggests, "Maybe someone will come back from the future and tell us the answers.") Thorne is rigorous, modest and, true to the spirit of science, determined that readers move beyond the appeal of exotic answers and grasp the significance of quantum questions. This volume, a model of style, format and illustration, will speak eloquently to the readership, ranging widely in scientific literacy and interest, that such theoretical physics writers as Hawking and Feynman have established.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book's subtitle explains it all. Virtually all astrophysicists accept the fact that Einstein's theory of general relativity is the best model of physical reality that we have. In other words, it is essentially correct. Yet the model requires the existence of physical phenomena beyond one's wildest imagination. One of the investigators attempting to fathom the depths of the theory, Thorne here describes the people who have done the work and the trails, both false and fruitful, they have followed. He brings us up-to-date on the state of the art in black hole research and the attempts to find definitive proof of their existence. Even with the mathematics removed, his explanations can be pretty heavy going. Nevertheless, the payoff is worth the work. For academic and larger public library science collections.
Harold D. Shane, Baruch Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393312763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393312768
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book for everyone who is interested in the subject.
Jack Booth
I have read dozens of articles and books on the subject - so I wasn't expecting much extra from Kip Thorne's "Black Holes & Time Warps".
Joshua G. Feldman
The authors style is easy to read and his ability to explain the most complex concepts makes reading enjoyable.
Alan Dale Daniel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Reinaldo Olivares on March 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I thought not. I was wrong. The reason: Kip Thorne. I really enjoyed the reading of this book because it offers the theoretical face of the so-called "Black Holes Mechanics" and a very important and delightful part, the history behind the theorems. The book begins with several chapters dedicated almost exclusively to the bases of the Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity, which describes the gravitation field in almost any place of our universe (if you get the book you will see why I say "almost"). Thereafter, the text covers the most important aspects of stellar implosion, which, in fact, brings Black Holes into existence. Once you are immersed in the very topic of the holes, the author studied profoundly their properties with informative boxes, spacetime diagrams, lots of references about discoveries, people and, the great difference with others books, an outstanding and thorough historical background. By the end, the author presents the most excitement predictions about the future use of Black Holes and the yet ill-understood Quantum Gravity Theory (predictions like backward time travel and wormholes). Finally, Kip Thorne closed the book with an excellent glossary of exotic terms and a list of principal characters that appeared throughout the text. I can say, without any doubt, that this is one of the most illustrative and complete books I have ever read, and in my opinion, is a book that every "Black Hole serious student" might have in his/her shelve. If you are looking for a less technical book, I suggest you "Black Holes: A Traveler's Guide" by Clifford Pickover. Nevertheless, if you want a higher challenge, get the book "Gravitation" by Thorne, Wheeler and Misner.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Lalonde on May 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
WHO WROTE IT: Kip Thorne is the Feynman Professor of Theoritical Physics at CalTech. He wrote several other books, including such a classic as GRAVITATION (withJ. Wheeler, C.Misner). This rich combination (plus an obvious talent as a communicator and an apparently fun loving personnality) makes him both a knowlegeable and understandable writer.

WHAT YOU GET: Many books have been written about black holes. Some are really simple. They make for a good introduction but are somewhat too basic for my taste. Some aim at staying intellectually affordable but they describe more than they explain. You are left frustrated: you don't understand what you are shown (see among others, John Gribbin's Unveiling the Edge of Time ). Some are too technical and took me out of my depth. K. Thorne gives explanations wich are complete enough to give you a coherent understanding while still being aimed at a non specialist public.

HOW IT IS DONE: The theoritical concepts involved are exposed along an historical structure . This way, the necessity of each element of the theory is made more obvious. Also, one gets briefly acquainted with the circumstance of the discoveries, the personnality of the involved researchers and the prevalent questionning as our knowledge evolved.

WHAT YOU NEED: The book contains very little mathematics. A college level should suffice. There are no equations (still rigourous; quite a challenge). Thorne illustrates his text with schematic illustrations, diagrams and simple mathematical curves. Being acquainted with the theory of relativity is probably a prerequisite. Thorne's explanation's of Einstein's space-time appears too short to bring you up to speed if you have no notion on the subject.
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61 of 71 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on February 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Don't be too swayed by the word "outrageous" in the title of this book. That may be there to attract attention, but needless to say, physicist Kip Thorne does a good job of explaining the more bizarre aspects of the universe in this book. Thorne's writing style is very accessible and down to earth, as he explains relativity, black holes, quantum mechanics, and even time warps. However, you'll still need to be really on the ball to understand many of these extremely complicated topics. I was impressed by Thorne's ability to explain bizarre concepts like gravitational time dilation and Einstein's theory of relativity to non-eggheads. But some of the more arcane aspects of quantum gravity or unified field theories will be beyond even the most well tuned laymen who read this book. Thorne also keeps the mood light by giving us the human side of advanced physics research, focusing on the friendships, rivalries, and personalities of the world's leading minds. This extends from Einstein in the beginning to Hawking in the present, and dozens of other less famous but almost as brilliant minds in between.
Watch out for some inconsistency in this book however, as Thorne sometimes gets into too much sentimental detail about the scientists' social lives (including his own), while the middle of the book sags as it digresses into the mechanical specs of radio telescopes and gravitational wave detectors. Also, beware of Thorne's suspiciously enthusiastic endorsements of gravitational wave research in chapter 10, as this is his own field of research, and I suspect he's trying to promote the need for funding.
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