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Rotation of a star


Feynman and Jacob Bekenstein
John Wheeler Scientist
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Richard Feynman, objected to the phrase that seemed to me to best symbolize the finding of one the graduate students: graduate student Jacob Bekenstein had shown that a black hole reveals by nothing outside it what went in, in the way of spinning electric particles. It might show electric charge; yes, mass; yes, but no other features - or as he put it, "A black hole has no hair" - and Richard Feynman thought that was an obscene phrase and he didn't want to use it. But that is a phrase now often used to state this feature of black holes, that they don't indicate any other properties other than a charge and angular momentum and mass.

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, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008