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'Black hole' origins.

"Black hole theory and discovery" (Back Stow, SN: 7/4/09, p. 6) credits John Archibald Wheeler for inventing the term black hole in 1967. This is a very widespread choice, but it cannot be right. In January 1964, your ancestral publication, Science News Letter, carried a short article titled "'Black holes' in space," which reported on a session at the AAAS meeting in Cleveland. Hong-Yee Chiu, who organized and chaired that session, remembers hearing the phrase from the late Robert Dicke in about 1960-61.

Virginia Trimble, Irvine, Calif.

Trimble, an astronomer at the University of California, Irvine, is correct, and we are gratified to be credited with the first use in print of "black hole" as an astrophysical object (see the original story on the Science News website at http:// bit.ly/IdkgEg). But apparently Wheeler, who popularized that name, did not learn of it from Science News Letter. By his account, it was suggested by an unknown questioner in the audience during a 1967 lecture given by Wheeler, who then used it in a later lecture that was published in the Spring 1968 issue of American Scientist.--Tom Siegfried

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Title Annotation:FEEDBACK
Author:Trimble, Virginia
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Sep 26, 2009
Words:191
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