cover image Light in the Darkness: Black Holes, the Universe, and Us

Light in the Darkness: Black Holes, the Universe, and Us

Heino Falcke with Jörg Römer, trans. from the German by Marshall Yarbrough. HarperOne, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-302005-4

Astronomer Falcke takes a sweeping tour of the “divine cosmos” in his impassioned debut. Space, he writes, has always been tied to “knowledge and myth, faith and superstition,” and as he traces the history of astronomy, outlines the life cycle of stars, and describes his research on black holes, he poses such questions as “is there still room for uncertainty... for a god?” Falcke enthusiastically shares his scientific journey (“A black hole at the center of our own Galaxy—this somewhat mysterious idea appealed to me right away”) and breaks down the efforts behind the now iconic picture of M87, the first ever image of a black hole—four teams worked to produce, analyze, and publish the photo, and Falcke was “so tense... that it [was] almost unbearable.” Readers less familiar with astrophysics may have some trouble along the way (the description of Hawking radiation, the radiation predicted to be emitted by black holes, is particularly knotty), though Falcke’s philosophical musings, such as on the hope offered by both religion and science, can pique. Those who have some grounding in the material will get the most out of this enthusiastic blend of science and philosophy. Agent: Markus Hoffman, RHA Literary. (May)