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.”

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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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7 thoughts on “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”

  1. ekpaudio

    Imagine being 150 years ahead of your time in two fields of science, and three centuries later the first thing they write about you is how fat you are

  2. d1t0m6

    I thought that said Joni Mitchell. Imma go back to sleep.

    ^(Would’ve been awesome if true, though.)

  3. The-Colorado-Kid

    See he was right.

  4. sephinelle

    Oh and they also used to be called as “gravitationally collapsed stars” until John Wheeler called them as “blackholes” since that long name is tiring to repeat again and again

  5. windigooooooo

    My christian extremist uncle still denies their existence. Sorry science, they aren’t real according to my uncle who has never scienced a day in his life

  6. OxymoronicallyAbsurd

    How does he find two stars if he can’t see the second star?

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