Black Holes, The Universe, and Us

With Heino Falcke

Join us for a virtual discussion, live-streamed direct from Berlin, Germany, with Heino Falcke, the German astrophysicist, about his research into the nature of black holes. His new book A Light in the Darkness is the story of how the first photographic evidence of black holes was achieved by Falcke in April 2019, and what its significance for humanity might be. Falcke wrestles with the ways in which black holes force us to confront the boundary where human life ends and the celestial begins. He also ponders why black holes are so difficult for most of us to understand, comparing that to our inability to envisage our own inevitable death.

Black holes develop when a massive star dies, and its matter is condensed. That extreme amount of mass contained in a small space generates a gigantic amount of gravitational force, allowing the black hole to suck up everything that comes near, including light. These astronomical wonders are the subject of intense scientific and philosophical theorizing—the journey to a black hole might even be a journey to the end of time itself. Which is why Falcke regards black holes as exquisite representations of fear, death—and, surprisingly, the divine.

Empirical and profound, Falcke examines both the physical nature and the spiritual meaning of black holes, which he calls “the epitome of merciless destruction.”