Paperback review: Gravity’s Engines, by Caleb Scharf


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The Independent Culture

I don’t know much about science but I do know what I like, and I like books like this which fill me with a sense of wonder – both at the universe and the human ingenuity which makes sense of it. In lucid, often poetic language, Scharf describes the awesome powers of black holes, those giant collapsed stars whose gravity is so powerful that not even light can escape them, and which gobble up stars as snacks.

Most galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their centre, and that’s no coincidence; the energy they generate regulates gravity and sculpts the universe. I probably don’t understand as much as I think, but Scharf is certainly successful in his aim of conveying “a sense of cosmic grandeur”.