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NEXT STORY

Entropy of a black hole. Bekenstein, Stephen Hawking (Part 1)

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The Chinese records back as far as 1054 give us information that we don't have recorded otherwise. They had spotted a Nova, a new star, in one region of the sky, and that region nowadays is the center from which we get pulses - but where does the light come from that we see there? This cloud of gas thrown out, why should gas continue to radiate energy? - because the energy has to disappear. Well, it seemed to me that it was reasonable to think of the source of the energy as contained in rotation of a star left behind in the explosion. I should have followed that up by looking for pulses of light coming from that object, but that was subsequently observed, I think if I remember right, thirty pulses a second, the indication that there is really a rotating object at the center that powers the surrounding mass of gas.

John Wheeler, one of the world's most influential physicists, is best known for coining the term 'black holes', for his seminal contributions to the theories of quantum gravity and nuclear fission, as well as for his mind-stretching theories and writings on time, space and gravity.

Listeners: Ken Ford

Ken Ford took his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1953 and worked with Wheeler on a number of research projects, including research for the Hydrogen bomb. He was Professor of Physics at the University of California and Director of the American Institute of Physicists. He collaborated with John Wheeler in the writing of Wheeler's autobiography, 'Geons, Black Holes and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics' (1998).

Duration: 1 minute, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008