John Michell anticipates black holes

He studied how stars were distributed in the night sky and argued that there were far
more “pairs” or groups or stars than would happen with random alignments. His
analysis provided the first evidence for binary stars and star clusters.
Michell wrote in November 1783 to Cavendish–later published in the Royal Society’s
journal–that proved the most prescient. His intent was not to “invent” exotic objects,
but to discover a useful method to determine the mass of a star. Michell adhered to
Isaac Newton’s corpuscular theory of light, and since light was made of particles, he
reasoned that when they were emitted by a star, that star’s gravitational pull would
reduce their speed, producing an observable shift in the starlight. “If the semi-diameter
of a sphere of the same density as the Sun in the proportion of five hundred to one,
and by supposing light to be attracted by the same force in proportion to its [mass] with
other bodies, all light emitted from such a body would be made to return towards it, by
its own proper gravity.”

Alan Chodos. (¨). November 27, 1783: John Michell anticipates
black holes. 2017, de APS Sitio web:
https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200911/physicshistory
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