World renowned astronomer Professor Chris Impey comes to the How To Academy with a Masterclass on Black Holes and how they might be the key to unlocking the secrets of the cosmos.

Black holes are the most extreme objects in the universe, yet every galaxy harbours a black hole at its centre. Frighteningly close and enigmatic, these dark stars continue to astound even the scientists who spend their careers studying them. Which came first, the galaxy or its central black hole? What happens if you travel into one—instant death or something weirder? And, perhaps most importantly, how can we ever know anything for sure about black holes when they destroy information by their very nature?

In this talk based on his new book Einstein’s Monsters, distinguished astronomer Chris Impey will take us on an exploration of these and other questions at the cutting edge of cosmology, as well as the history of black holes’ role in theoretical physics—from confirming Einstein’s equations for general relativity to testing string theory. He will blend this history with a poignant account of the phenomena scientists have witnessed while observing black holes: stars swarming like bees around the centre of our galaxy; black holes performing gravitational waltzes with stars; the cymbal clash of two black holes colliding, releasing ripples in space-time.

Join us for a revelatory talk on how we make sense of the universe and our place within it. From the big questions to the small ones—the tiniest particles to the nature of space-time itself—understanding black holes might be the key to unlocking the secrets of the cosmos.





  • Astronomers have only identified a few dozen, but there are thirty million black holes in our galaxy.
  • Every second, somewhere in the universe, two black holes merge and release a burst of gravity waves.
  • Black holes are not black; they emit feeble radiation a tiny fraction of a degree above absolute zero.
  • The biggest black holes in the universe are tens of billions of times more massive than the Sun.
  • The big black hole at the center of our galaxy has stars swarming around it at millions of miles per hour.
  • Protected by a space suit, a human could survive falling into any massive black hole in the universe.



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