"Monster of the Milky Way"


by David Gutowski

Do you want to feel small? Insignificant? Slightly smarter? NOVA's episode on black holes, Monster of the Milky Way, will achieve all of the above, plus, you will learn a bit about the universe (and might even be entertained).

For years, scientists have theorized that at the center of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole. For most science shows, examining this thesis would constitute an entire show alone. NOVA not only points out this fact, but explains the tools used in its exploration (infrared telescopes and adaptive optics), while also covering the formation of black holes, the effects of "galactic cannibalism," as well as the appetite of these behemoths. After the hour, I felt like I had been through an entertaining week of astronomy class.

These black hole tales are told by the experts, the scientists who study them. Unlike some science shows where an actor reads lines written for him to explain theory, the narrator here merely pulls the stories together. The academics prove themselves adept at marrying theory with application in everyday terms. Sometimes, the results are even funny, like when the scientists were discussing death by black hole (and one stated he preferred to go that way).

This episode is filled with animations that instruct but do not overwhelm. Beautifully rendered galaxies colliding, renditions of the interiors of black holes (based on Einstein's equations), and others are wonderful aids that complement the commentary.

In a time where most homes have access to a myriad of television channels, NOVA remains my favorite science program. As a youth, I spent many informative hours during my childhood watching Carl Sagan explain the universe. His series, "Cosmos," had me on an astronomical career path for several of my elementary school years. Though I eventually chose English over astronomy, I continue to watch PBS science programs religiously, especially NOVA. Maybe it's not too late to become an astronomer...


English was a good choice David. Carl Sagan's science fiction is story telling. It has no more basis in reality than string theory, time travel or the ninth dimension. And David, the Big Bang is (American) astronomy's version of Creationism.

Unfortunately, David, this wild speculation, with no basis in empirical science, is taught as truth to America's children.

Where can I see a map of the milky way and were the earth is in relation to the galaxy? What does the placement of the Earth within the galaxy effect our tectonic plates? Where can I learn more about this?

This year's Nobel Prizes in Physics were awarded to George Smoot of UCal-Berkeley and John Mather of NASA, for their work in cosmology. These are very exciting times in the physics of the large-scale universe — cosmology and astrophysics in general—and I am very happy to see "Monster of the Milky Way," produced by NOVA. I will most certainly recommend it to my physics students.
—Bulent Atalay, Professor of Physics

When our scientists and teachers are rewarded above our athletes and celebrities we will have accomplished something significant. I just love NOVA.

Excellent overview of black
holes. Nova is consistently
worth watching. It's the jewel of PBS. Now if they'd
only revisit String Theory,
a non-predicting, non-verifiable faith-based
physics which along with
Global Warming is a prime
example of groupthink and
grantsmanship run amok. Let's
hear some critiques.


I have viewed bursts of red stars coming out of shining stars, I see them when the night is clear out in BC. I saw the Monster and the Milky Way, what I see with my own eyes at night, is what I saw in this movie. The vortex and black hole sucking things up, is what I have dreamed for years. This is an answer, people really should believe.......TIME IS THE SPIRIT WORLD, I feel the end of humans as we know ourselves will be here quicker than anyone realizes, our bodies are just a shell, I think we can survive a black hole

My goodness, when saw the episode on "Monster of the Milky Way" on NOVA, make mind expands very very very very very fast, it's about time for those astromoners the "correct" to look at Black Hole it look sooooooooo "makes a lot of since" moment!
I say WOW!

In the late 1990s I wrote a copyrighted book, THE ELECTRO-GRAVITIC THEORY OF CELESTIAL MOTION AND COSMOLOGY, In which I postulated that supermassive black holes exist at galaxy centers which expel matter via electro-magnetic forces.All this was presented before supermassive black holes were discovered and before it was observed that they expel matter via electromagnetism.This theory was presented at the University of Bergamo, Italy and was reviewed as unbelievable in CATARTROPHISM AND CHRONOLOGY REVIEW by Eric Crew. It was also discussed in the University of Pennsylvania FORUM.The book was placed in a few eastern European astronomical libaries.It can be obtained by writing to this author:Charles Ginenthal 65-35 108th Street Forest Hills N.Y. 11375. I am compelled to present this material to the readers of this site because the producers and research writers of NOVA failed to present these facts in their program on Monster of the Milky Way in order to protect my priority regarding these concepts. I will attempt to have the producers correct this.

This show was amazing and really was fun and quite easy to understand for just about everyone. Did anyone tape it, I have to watch it agian?!

The documentary makes me hypothesize that probably spiral galaxies are made from
spherical galaxies because of the super massive black hole in their center.
What formed first, the spherical galaxy of the black hole in the centre, is a
seperate topic.
But as explained in the program, the galaxies would start as normal spherical
ones and the black holes jets would create these huge voids in two opposite
directions due to there sterilization effect on normal gas and matter.
These voids would create a gravitational imbalance in the structure of the
spherical galaxy forcing it to collapse into a spiral disc shaped one,
with the jets perpendicular to the plane of the spiral galaxies disc.

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