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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathes life into a rich topic, September 13, 2012
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This review is from: Gravity's Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos (Hardcover)
Scharf has presented a colourful and readable narrative without the sacrifice of one iota of clear and logical explanation. His topic, black holes, has been done to death but Gravity's Engines is a current and broad ranging account which excels through Scharf's powers of exposition.

Scharf commences his account viewing a coarse image of galaxy 4C41.17 on his computer screen and then guides the reader through astronomical events which reveal what we have learned leading up to and from the discovery of this extremely distant and extremely young galaxy. His explanations of how black holes grow, `self regulate' and are critical to galactic and biological evolution would risk being trite ("the feeding habits of nonillion-pound gorillas") if the descriptions were less clear or accurate. Instead, he literally breathes life into a fascinating topic.

When Scharf examines the role of black holes in the evolution of life on the Earth, there may be scope for a summary to the conjecture and metaphor-laden narrative. However, a hard-nosed appraisal of the anthropic principle puts this examination into context. Scharf concludes with a review of state-of-the-art x-ray observatories, planned and wished.

Covering all aspects of black hole theory, from black hole genesis, growth, regulation, taxonomy and impact upon the universe at large, Gravity's Engines is an enjoyable lay guide to black hole theory.
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Location: Canberra, Australia

Top Reviewer Ranking: 7,708