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Monster of the Milky Way

Black Holes Explained

What exactly is a black hole, anyway? Listen in as 11 top physicists and astronomers take on the challenge of describing the strangest entities in the universe. Listen online by selecting Play All or choose individual clips below. Listen offline by downloading clips, or subscribe to our podcast.

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Gregory Benford

Gregory Benford
Physicist and Author
University of California, Irvine

"People regard black holes as troubling, because they are the enemy you cannot defeat."

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Running time 0:39

Roger Blandford

Roger Blandford
Astrophysicist
Stanford University

"Right at the heart of a black hole is the center nugget, which we call the singularity, and there we don't know what goes on."

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Running time 0:30

David Brin

David Brin
Physicist and Author
"If you stick your finger down in there, you ain't getting it back."

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Running time 0:37



Reinhard Genzel

Reinhard Genzel
Astrophysicist
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

"Anything can be a black hole—it's just a matter of getting mass to be concentrated in a small enough volume."

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Running time 0:33

Andrea Ghez

Andrea Ghez
Astrophysicist
University of California, Los Angeles

"We don't know! We'd like to know, but we don't actually know."

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Running time 0:47

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton
Astronomer
University of Colorado, Boulder

"It's this monstrous, mysterious thing that, I don't know, eats everything."

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Running time 0:58



Brian McNamara

Brian McNamara
Astronomer
Ohio University

"When something falls into a black hole, it is no longer accessible to our world."

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Running time 0:37

Mark Morris

Mark Morris
Physicist
University of California, Los Angeles

"Nothing can counteract the gravity and prevent it from collapsing completely to a point in space."

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Running time 1:11

Steve Ritz

Steve Ritz
Astrophysicist
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center & University of Maryland

"It's enigmatic, because it represents the laws of physics in the most extreme environments that we can imagine."

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Running time 0:56



Kip Thorne

Kip Thorne
Physicist
California Institute of Technology

"The common idea that a black hole is just made of very compacted matter—it's wrong. It is just simply wrong."

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Running time 1:09

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist
American Museum of Natural History

"There's no better hole that you could possibly imagine than a black hole."

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Running time 1:01

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Gregory Benford
Roger Blandford
David Brin
Reinhard Genzel
Andrea Ghez
Andrew Hamilton
Brian McNamara
Mark Morris
Steve Ritz
Kip Thorne
Neil deGrasse Tyson

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