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Tullio Regge. Work on black holes (Part 1)


Collapse of matter into a black hole
John Wheeler Scientist
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One of the problems that is attractive is what happens to a collection of mass when these masses are put together? And anybody who likes to makes drawings finds himself attracted by the idea that the spherical region of space around a particle or a mass must have an influence on another mass and the spherical region of space around it. If you bring the two together then you have to think of a plane between the two which is halfway where the two influences balance each other. That's all right on one side, but if you bring another particle by, at another plane, and these plains can be arranged to be sufficiently numerous and sufficiently regular so as to approximate, in themselves, a sphere. So although we started out with a sphere, and bit by bit we got away from this sphere by bringing other masses nearby, in the end we could come back to a sphere by having these masses planted around sufficiently uniformly so that this polyhedral surface is a good approximation to a sphere. This gives one a new way to analyze the approach of particles and the collapse of matter into a black hole.

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: 2 minutes, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008