antedating "black hole" - coined by Robert Dicke?

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 23 19:10:03 UTC 2009

When John Wheeler died recently, and the Times of London, like many other media, memorialized him as the coiner of "black hole," I published a letter to the editor in the Times pointing out the same 1964 citation presented by Jonathan Lighter below.


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Jonathan Lighter [wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 1:52 PM
Subject: antedating "black hole" - coined by Robert Dicke?

OED offers 1968.

1964 Ann Ewing in _The Science News Letter_ (Jan. 18) 39: "Black Holes" in
Space  The heavy densely packed dying stars that speckle space may help
determine how matter behaves when enclosed in its own gravitational
field....Space may be peppered with "black holes." This was suggested at the
American Association for the Advancement of Physics meeting in Cleveland by
astronomers and physicists who are experts on what are called degenerate
stars....Such a star then forms a "black hole" in the universe.

2009 Virginia Trimble in _Science News_ (Sept. 26) 30: 'Black hole'
origins....Hong-Yee Chiu, who organized and chaired that [AAAS] session,
remembers the phrase from the late Robert Dicke in about 1960-61.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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