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Black Holes

February 28, 2006

When Disney made the movie "Black Hole" in 1979, no one was sure whether black holes were real or just figments of astronomers’ imaginations. But a lot has changed since then.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Are black holes for real? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

From Star Trek to Ren and Stimpy cartoons, black holes figure prominently in fiction. Iris Waters of Riverdale, Maryland, wrote to ask us if they actually exist.

Well, astronomer Ron Remillard of M-I-T says that was up for debate 20 years ago when he started studying black holes…places where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. But by the late nineties, scientists had figured out how to indirectly "see" black holes by watching how they interact with stars and gases.

RON REMILLARD (M-I-T):
People don’t really question it anymore. It really is part of the culture, the paradigm, to assume there are black holes on both small and large scales.

HIRSHON:
If you need help separating science from science fiction, call us at 1-800-why-isit.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.