Printer Friendly

'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:// 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

COPYRIGHT 2009 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:FEEDBACK
Author:Trimble, Virginia
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Sep 26, 2009
Previous Article:Bookshelf.
Next Article:Bog iron.

Related Articles
Astronomers get new spin on black holes.
A new look at black holes: dim monsters in the spotlight.
Letters to the editor.
Black hole bonanza: 10,000 objects near our galaxy's center.
Joint evolution of black holes and galaxies.
Classical and quantum gravity research.
Rogue black holes may wander the Milky Way.
"Cosmic blobs" a result of growing supermassive black holes.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters