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Useful Background Reading on Black Holes

  1. Feb 15, 2010 #1

    Chris Hillman

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    I propose to collect here some links which may be over the head of most PF users, but which should be invaluable for SA/Ms who feel the need to quickly brush up before addressing some thorny question involving the concept of certain topics related to gtr. In this post,

    [size=+3]Useful Background Reading on Black Holes[/size]


    Black Holes : A General Introduction
    Authors: Jean-Pierre Luminet

    The Confrontation between General Relativity and Experiment
    Authors: Clifford M. Will

    Was Einstein Right? Testing Relativity at the Centenary
    Authors: Clifford M. Will

    [size=+2] Selected textbook explanations of geometry of Schwarzschild Geometry:[/size]

    Misner, Thorne & Wheeler, Gravitation, chapter 31
    Stephani, General Relativity, chapter 22
    Schutz, A First Course in General Relatity, chapter 11
    Dirac, General Relativity, chapter 19
    Carroll, Spacetime and Geometry, section 5.7
    De Felice and Clarke, Relavity on Curved Manifolds, section 10.5
    Plebanski and Krasinksi, General Relativity and Cosmology, section 14.11
    DInverno, Introducing Einstein's Relativity, section 17.2
    Ludvigsen, General Relativity, section 13.4
    Wald, General Relativity, section 6.4

    [size=+2]Reviews of Observational Evidence: [/size]

    Experimental Evidence of Black Holes
    Authors: Andreas Mueller

    Black Holes in Astrophysics
    Authors: Ramesh Narayan

    Evidence for the Black Hole Event Horizon
    Authors: Ramesh Narayan

    Observational evidence for supermassive black hole binaries
    Authors: Stefanie Komossa (MPE Garching)


    Resource Letter BH-2: Black Holes
    Elena Gallo, Don Marolf

    Resource Letter GrW-1: Gravitational Waves
    Authors: Joan M. Centrella

    [size=+2]Proposed new tests of strong-field gravitation:[/size]

    Testing the general relativistic ''no-hair'' theorems using the galactic center black hole SgrA*
    Authors: Clifford M. Will

    [size=+2]Reviews of numerical simulations of BH mergers:

    The Current Status of Binary Black Hole Simulations in Numerical Relativity
    Authors: Ian Hinder

    The art and science of black hole mergers
    Authors: Bernard F. Schutz

    [size=+2]Reviews of thermodynamics of black holes:[/size]

    The entropy of black holes: a primer
    Authors: Thibault Damour

    Debunkings of Cranky Claims about Black Holes Which Often Turn Up in PF

    Note: the claims I have in mind have been made in
    • provably incorrect papers published long ago by Abrams (and recently posted to the arXiv by his son),
    • provably incorrect arXiv eprints by Antoci, Loinger, Mitra, Leiter & Stanley Robertson, mostly repeating the claims of Abrams
    • various web writings by Crothers

    On singularities, horizons, invariants, and the results of Antoci, Liebscher and Mihich (GRG 38, 15 (2006) and earlier)
    Authors: Malcom A. H. MacCallum

    Personal letter from MAH to SJC
    Code (Text):
    [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    The domain plasmaresources.com is registered to Crothers, and there are scary reasons why SA/Ms should not surf there without having first taken some precautions:
    • secure your browser (at the very least, use NoScript in Firefox or Iceweasel; better yet, use wget with a live CD to fetch the file).
    • use Tor or another proxy service to hide the IP address of your computer (it is possible to "torify" wget and curl).
    • use a malware scanner to examine the file before opening the file with kpdf or another pdf reader (pdfs are currently a major malware vector, and there is good reason to think the website in question may be particularly hazardous).
    I wrote out the link using "code" tags rather than "link" so that no-one will click on this by mistake. If you want to know more about the potential hazards of surfing to certain cranksites, please shoot me a PM with your public key.

    Plebanski and Krasinski, General Relativity and Cosmology, footnote on p. 175, referring to the translation by Antoci and Liebscher of Schwarzschild's 1916 paper introducting the Schwarzschild vacuum solution, "the editorial note to it [by the translator's] makes incorrect claims about its interpretation"; the "note" is a paper by Antoci and Liebscher which accompanied the translation and which repeats the incorrect claims of Abrams/Antoci/Loinger/Mitra/Crothers/&c. P&K don't bother to justify their remark, whose truth will be obvious to any good student, but this citation lends credibility to my claim that no knowledgable persons take seriously the mistaken claims of Abrams/Antoci/Loinger/Mitra/Crothers/&c.

    Some posts by Steve Carlip (an editor of Classical and Quantum Gravity):

    Some posts by Tom Roberts (high-energy physicist then with Fermilab):

    Some posts by John Baez (mathematical physicist and expositor extraordinaire):

    Some posts by Ayse H. Bilge (Turkish physicist, has published on gravitation)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2010 #2

    Chris Hillman

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    Background Reading on Gravitatioanal Waves

    Here are some readable review papers dealing with various aspects of gravitational radiation:


    [size=+2] Sources[/size]




    • Stephen Fairhurst, Gianluca M Guidi, Patrice Hello, John T Whelan, Graham Woan,
      Current Status of Gravitational-Wave Observations (2009)
    • LIGO Science Consortium,
      Einstein@Home Search for Periodic Gravitational Waves in Early S5 LIGO Data (2009)
    • LSC,
      Search for Gravitational Wave Ringdowns from Perturbed Black Holes in LIGO S4 Data (2009)
    • LSC,
      href="[PLAIN]http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.0020[/URL] [Broken]
      Search for Gravitational-Wave Bursts in the First Year of the Fifth LIGO Science Run (2009)
    • LSC,
      href="[PLAIN]http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.0302[/URL] [Broken]
      Search for Gravitational Waves from Low Mass Binary Coalescences in the First Year of LIGO's S5 Data (2009)
    • G S Bisnovatyi-Kogan
      Binary and Recycled Pulsars: 30 Years after Observational Discovery (2006)
    • Clifford M. Will
      The Confrontation between General Relativity and Experiment (2005)
    • Gilles Esposito-Farese,
      Binary-Pulsar Tests of Strong-Field Gravity (1996)

    [size=+2]Mathematical Models[/size]

    • Jerry Griffiths,
      http://www-staff.lboro.ac.uk/~majbg/jbg/book.html [Broken]
      Colliding Plane Waves in General Relativity, Oxford Mathematical Monographs, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991


    [size=+2]Debunking claims that "LIGO has failed" [sic][/size]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Mar 13, 2010 #3

    Chris Hillman

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    BRS: Some Useful Links for SA/Ms. Gravitational Waves. Addendum

    Add to Post #2, in the section on "Sources":
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2010
  5. Mar 17, 2010 #4

    Chris Hillman

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    BRS: Some Useful Links for SA/Ms: Debunking 101

    Classics of debunking:
    • A much-cited talk by Irving Langmuir on fringe science:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • A long profile by John Farrell of various anti-relativity fringe figures, including the late Tom Van Flandern, published in Salon:
      Code (Text):
    • A long profile by Charles Platt of varous anti-gravity fringe figures, including Eugene Podkletnov, published in Wired:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • A thoughtful profile of anti-BH, anti-LHC agitator Otto Roessler (justly famous in math for the Roessler attractor, which I have elsewhere called one of the "icons of chaotic dynamics"), by an anonymous blogger:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    Some skeptical websites:
    • A good website to which to direct any young student who appears confused about what science is all about:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
      Code (Text):
    • Offers some useful general comments on fringe science:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • A site combatting creationism in the public schools:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • These websites seem promising at a glance:
      Code (Text):

      [PLAIN]http://homepage.mac.com/cygnusx1/index.html[/PLAIN] [Broken]
    Blogs which often feature debunking:
    • Bob Park (Emeritus, Physics, University of Maryland, College Park) has over the years provided brief debunkings of such figures as Randell Mills ("hydrinos", Blacklight Power):
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • Mark Chu-Carroll (Google) often debunks math/sci cranks:
      Code (Text):
    Beastiaries of the fringe:
    (if I might so put it)
    • The Skeptic's dictionary:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • A website debunking a large number of cranks from days of yore:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • A collection of ancient UseNet FAQs concerning some cranks from days of yore:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • "Alternative science" from Yahoo:
      Code (Text):

    • "Alternative physics" from Science Central:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • Some anti-relativity figures, as listed by Google (very incomplete!):
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    [size=+1]Forums which often feature debunkings:[/size]
    • BAUT ATM is probably the best forum to which to direct fringe proponents spotted at PF:
      Code (Text):
      Offers them the chance to argue with people who know some relevant science, sometimes a great deal of relevant science.
    • Randi's JREF forum also offers regular debunking:
      Code (Text):
      [/PLAIN] [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Mar 17, 2010 #5

    Chris Hillman

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    BRS: Some Useful Links for SA/Ms: the Simon Singh case (through March 2010)

    Here are some newspaper articles and op-ed pieces on the Simon Singh case and some recent related cases, beginning with a widely cited editorial from :wink: that infamous organ of radical speech, the Wall Street Journal:

    • Britain Chills Free Speech
      Libel tourists flock to the U.K. to avoid public scrutiny.
      Wall Street Journal Europe.
      Code (Text):

    • Why are they trying to gag a top British science writer?
      Nick Cohen
      The Guardian, Sunday 31 May 2009
      Code (Text):

    • An intrepid, ragged band of bloggers
      Ben Goldacre
      The Guardian, Wednesday 29 July 2009
      Code (Text):

    • Chiropractors cause controversy
      Ben Goldacre
      The Guardian, Saturday 17 October 2009
      Code (Text):

    • Banish the libel chill
      Allen Green
      The Guardian, Thursday 15 October 2009
      Code (Text):

    • US medical firm takes trip to UK courts to sue consultant
      David Leigh
      The Guardian, Tuesday 10 November 2009
      Code (Text):

    • Foreign media count cost of UK libel laws
      Karen McVeigh
      The Guardian, Monday 9 November 2009
      Code (Text):

    • Charities watchdog releases Simon Singh libel campaign complaints
      The Guardian, Tuesday 17 November 2009
      Code (Text):

    • Simon Singh in court to appeal against ruling over Guardian article
      Chris Tryhorn and agencies
      The Guardian, Tuesday 23 February 2010
      Code (Text):

    • Simon Singh and the silencing of the scientists
      Sarah Boseley
      The Guardian, Thursday 25 February 2010
      Code (Text):

    • Furious backlash from Simon Singh libel case puts chiropractors on ropes
      Martin Robbins
      The Guardian, Monday 1 March 2010
      Code (Text):

    • Danish scientist sued by drug firm under British libel laws to counterclaim
      David Leigh
      The Guardian, Tuesday 16 February 2010
      Code (Text):

    • US drug firm drops libel action against scientist
      David Leigh
      The Guardian, Thursday 18 February 2010
      Code (Text):


    [EDIT: I need to add some links here on recent activity by the Harun Yaya group, and some cases in which fringe supporters made a very determined effort to impersonate on line an academic critic in order to discredit their character.]

    For general background reading on the fiendishly complex, almost entirely untested, and rapidly evolving state of international law on blogging and discussion forums:
    • Jack of Kent's brief for foreigners on English libel law
      Code (Text):

      [PLAIN]http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2008/08/on-english-libel-law-brief-guide-for.html[/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • discussion of legal rights for bloggers, such as they are, from the EFF (most useful for American bloggers)
      Code (Text):

    • Sense About Science, a pro-science organization founded by Simon Singh and others, which may form a legal defense fund for bloggers sued by creatonist organizations, drug companies, and other seeking to silence scientific critics:
      Code (Text):

      See in particular this petition, which I urge any academic scientists to consider signing
      Code (Text):

    • some websites discussing cyberslapp lawsuits, a common tactic of legal intimidation:
      Code (Text):

      [PLAIN]http://www.thefirstamendment.org/antislappresourcecenter.html[/PLAIN] [Broken]
    • a discussion of free speech on-line from the ACLU
      Code (Text):

    • a site devoted to the consequences of suppressing journalism, critical speech, &c:
      Code (Text):


    Full disclosure: I have no financial interest in any of the above websites, but I have donated to some of these organizations, you betcha, and would certainly encourage other SA/Ms to consider doing likewise. The voice you save may be your own.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Jun 2, 2010 #6

    Chris Hillman

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    Background Reading on Gravitatioanal Waves Cont'd)

    Please add under Overviews:

    Code (Text):

    Bernard F. Schutz and Franco Ricci
    Gravitational Waves, Sources, and Detectors (2000)
    This superb, student-friendly review paper was written in 2000 but has only just been uploaded to the arXiv. Highlights include:
    • exercises, including a nice debunking of a common misconception
    • thorough treatment of mass quadrupole/octupole and current quadrupole for far fields
    • excellent table offering a useful comparision of EM and gravitational radiation
  8. Aug 8, 2010 #7

    Chris Hillman

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    BRS: Useful Background Reading on Tests of Gravitation Theories

    [size=+3]Useful Background Reading on Tests of Gravitation Theories[/size]

    Note: please see also my Posts #1-2 above for links to review papers, etc., concerning observational evidence regarding black holes and gravitational waves.


    • http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0510072
      The Confrontation between General Relativity and Experiment
      Clifford M. Will
      (2005 update of 2001 review; also available at http://relativity.livingreviews.org/Articles/lrr-2006-3/ [Broken])

    [size=+2]Some Alternative Classical Field Theories:[/size]

    Note: see also the reviews by Will for citations to essential printed papers not available on-line. The following section just contains on-line reviews or introductions to some theories which I would not consider borderline crank-- but which in some cases are now known to be wrong!-- and which have been discussed by researchers other than the original authors, or which I consider pedagogically useful for some reason. Search on the authors's names for more on-line eprints.



    I think there is no question that the research literature in gravitaiton physics clearly show that 2000-2010 saw renewed interest in formulating and testing a new generation of classical gravitation theories. This work has been, I think, largely motivated by two developments:
    • observational: the discovery of the apparently "accelerating" Hubble expansion,
    • theoretical: some of the enormous body of work on superstring/M-theory, and (to a lesser extent) work on other approaches to a possible quantum theory of gravity, has progressed to the point where it suggests possible "effective field theories" or "classical approximations" of the (yet unknown) quantum theory of gravity.
    Some ill-informed PF regulars (but not in the SA area! :wink: ) are wont to complain that physicists have not responded to apparent observational anomalies/mysteries, which is of course not true. Their misunderstanding arises in part from simple ignorance of what is really going on in gravitation physics, and in part from a failure to appreciate the fact that real science tends to proceed at an unsteady and uncertain pace, with many missteps and detours.

    Or as Clifford Will puts in his PTG-1 review (see item just above, first paragraph, first page):
    Will's PTG-1 review also contains some very quotable advice for newbie readers of the arXiv (first paragraph, second page): :smile:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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