The idea of black holes was first proposed in 1783 by John Michell, calling them “dark stars” and proposing a method to detect them by looking for star systems that showed the gravitational effects of two stars, but only one star was visible, which is indeed how scientists look for them today
The forgotten genius who discovered black holes over 200 years ago
Centuries before black holes became accepted science, a fat little man in 1780s Yorkshire imagined stars so massive that even light could not escape. He predicted black holes. This is the incredible story of John Michell and his “dark stars.”
The Fat Little Country Reverend Who Invented Seismology
John Michell is one of the great unsung geniuses of 18th century science. Born in 1724, he studied at Cambridge University and later went on to teach there, instructing students in everything from Hebrew and Greek to math and geology. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1761, but in 1767 he left for northern England to take up the the post of rector of St. Michael’s Church in the city of Leeds, where he spent the rest of his days.
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