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A Non-Expert’s Guide to a Black Hole’s Silhouette

9 Apr 2019, 13:41 UTC
A Non-Expert’s Guide to a Black Hole’s Silhouette
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

About fifteen years ago, when I was a professor at the University of Washington, the particle physics theorists and the astronomer theorists occasionally would arrange to have lunch together, to facilitate an informal exchange of information about our adjacent fields. Among the many enjoyable discussions, one I was particularly excited about — as much as an amateur as a professional — was the one in which I learned of the plan to make some sort of image of a black hole. I was told that this would likely be achieved by 2020. The time, it seems, has arrived.
The goal of this post is to provide readers with what I hope will be a helpful guide through the foggy swamp that is likely to partly obscure this major scientific result. Over the last days I’ve been reading what both scientists and science journalists are writing in advance of the press conference Wednesday morning, and I’m finding many examples of jargon masquerading as English, terms poorly defined, and phrasing that seems likely to mislead. As I’m increasingly concerned that many non-experts will be unable to understand what is presented tomorrow, and what the pictures do and do not mean, I’m using ...

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