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Albert Einstein would have been pleased, but maybe also a bit surprised, by this week’s release of the first ever close-up image of a supermassive black hole. Early speculation about black holes fell straight from Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity, but the great scientist himself thought the idea was a little too weird to manifest itself in the actual universe.

He assumed it was an artifact of the mathematics, said physicist Daniel Kennefick, co-author of “An Einstein Encyclopedia” and the upcoming “No Shadow of Doubt.” In correspondence with French physicists in the 1920s, Einstein dismissed the idea that something could collapse forever, reaching a point of infinite density and trapping even light. (They didn’t use the term black hole, which didn’t catch on until the 1960s.)

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