I've decided to list some of the most important scientists who worked on the topics I discuss on this web site.
So please take your time to read at least those few words I put together for you and please honor these men's work.
And remember, they are legends...



Bardeen, James Maxwell (b. 1939)

American theoretical physicist; showed that many or most black holes in our Universe should be rapidly spinning and, with Petterson, predicted the influence of the holes' spins on surrounding accretion disks; with Carter and Hawking, discovered the four laws of black-hole mechanics.

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Bohr, Niels Hendrik David (1885-1962)

Danish theoretical physicist; Nobel laureate; one of the founders of quantum mechanics; mentor for many of the leading physicists of the middle twentieth century, including Lev Landau and John Wheeler; tried to save Landau from prison; with Wheeler developed the theory of nuclear fission.


Einstein, Albert (1879-1955)

German born, Swiss/American theoretical physicist; Nobel laureate; formulated the laws of special relativity and general relativity; showed that light is simultaneously a particle and a wave; opposed the concept of a black hole.


Geroch, Robert (b. 1942)

American theoretical physicist; student of Wheeler's; with others, developed global methods for analyzing black holes; showed that the topology of space can change (for example, when a wormhole forms) only if a time machine is produced in the process; with Wald, gave the first argument suggesting that time machines might be destroyed whenever they try to form.


Hartle, James B. (b. 1939)

Student of Wheeler's; with Bekenstein, showed that one cannot discern, by any external study of a black hole, what kinds of particles were among the material that formed it; with Hawking, discovered that govern the evolution of a black holes horizon; with Hawking is developing insights into the laws of quantum gravity.


Hawking, Stephen W. (b. 1942)

British theoretical physicist; student of Sciama's; developed key parts of the proof that a black hole has no hair; with Bardeen and Carter, discovered the four laws of black-hole mechanics; discovered that, if one ignores the laws of quantum mechanics, the surface areas of black holes can only increase, but quantum mechanics makes black holes evaporate and shrink; showed that tiny black holes could have formed in the big bang and, with Page, placed observational limits on such primordial holes based on astronomers not seeing gamma rays produced by their evaporation; developed global (topological) methods for analyzing black holes; with Penrose, proved that the big bang contained a singularity; formulated the chronology protection conjecture and argued that it is enforced by vacuum fluctuations destroying any time machine at the moment it is created; made bets with Kip Thorne over whether Cygnus X-1 is a black hole and whether naked singularities can form in our Universe.


Israel, Werner (b. 1931)

South African born, Canadian theoretical physicist; proved that every nonspinning black hole must be spherical, and gave evidence that a black hole loses its "hair" by radiating it away; discovered that the surface areas of black holes can only increase, but did not realize the significance of this conclusion; with Poisson and Ori, showed that the tidal forces that surround a black hole's singularity become weaker as the hole ages; developed insights into the early history of black-hole research.


Kerr, Roy P. (b. 1934)

New Zealander mathematician; discovered the solution to Einstein's field equation, which describes a spinning black hole: the "Kerr solution".

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Landau, Lev Davidovich (1908-1968)

Soviet theoretical physicist; Nobel laureate; transfused theoretical physics from Western Europe into the USSR in the 1930's; tried to explain stellar heat as produced by stellar material being captured onto a neutron core at the star's center, and thereby triggered Oppenheimer's research on neutron stars and black holes; was imprisoned in Stalin's Great Terror and then released so he could develop the theory of superfluidity; contributed to Soviet nuclear weapons research.


Lorentz, Hendrik Antoon (1853-1928)

Dutch theoretical physicist; Nobel laureate; developed key foundations for the laws of special relativity, the most important being the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction and time dilation; friend and associate of Einstein when Einstein was developing his general relativistic laws of physics.


Maxwell, James Clerk (1831-1879)

British theoretical physicist; developed the laws of electricity and magnetism.


Michelson, Albert Abraham (1852-1931)

German born, American experimental physicist; Nobel laureate; invented the techniques of interferometry; used those techniques to discover that the speed of light is independent of one's velocity through the Universe.


Minkowski, Hermann (1864-1909)

German theoretical physicist; teacher of Einstein; discovered that space and time are unified into spacetime.


Newton, Isaac (1642-1727)

British natural philosopher; developed the foundation for the Newtonian laws of physics and for the concept of space and time as absolute; developed the Newtonian laws of gravity.


Oppenheimer, J. Robert (1904-1967)

American theoretical physicist; transfused theoretical physics from Western Europe to the United States in the 1930's; with Serber, disproved Landau's claim that stars might be kept hot by neutron cores, and with Volkoff, demonstrated that there is a maximum possible mass for neutron stars; with Snyder, demonstrated, in a highly idealized model, that when massive stars die, they must implode to form black holes, and elucidated key features of the implosion; led the American atomic bomb project, opposed the hydrogen bomb project early on and then endorsed it and lost his security clearence; did battle with Wheeler over whether implosion produces black holes.


Penrose, Roger (b. 1931)

British mathematician and theoretical physicist; protégé of Sciama's; speculated that black holes lose their hair by radiating it away; discovered that spinning black holes store huge amounts of energy in the swirl of space outside their horizons and that this energy can be extracted; developed the concept of a black hole's apparent horizon; discovered that the surface areas of black holes must increase, but did not realize the significance of that conclusion; invented and developed global (topological) methods for analyzing black holes; proved that black holes must have singularities in their cores and, with Hawking, proved that the big bang contained a singularity; proposed the cosmic censorship conjecture, that the laws of physics prevent maked singularities from forming in our Universe.


Schwarzschild, Karl (1876-1916)

German astrophysicist; discovered the geometry of a nonspinning star that is either static or imploding, and also describes a nonspinning black hole; discovered the solution of the Einstein equation for the interior of a constant-density star - a solution that Einstein used to argue that black holes cannot exist.


Thorne, Kip S. (b. 1940)

American theoretical physicist: student of Wheeler's; proposed the hoop conjecture which describes when black holes can form in an imploding star, and developed evidence for it; made estimates of the gravitational waves from astrophysical sources and contributed to ideas and plans for the detection of those waves; with others, developed the membrane paradigm for black holes; developed ideas about the statistical origin of the entropy of a black hole; probed the laws of physics by means of thought experiments about wormholes and time machines.


Wald, Robert M. (b. 1947)

American theoretical physicist; student of Wheeler's; contributed to the Teukolsky formalism for analyzing perturbation of black holes and its applications; with others developed an understanding of how electric fields behave outside a black hole - an understanding that underlies the membrane paradigm; contributed to the theory of the evaporation of black holes and its applications for the origin of black-hole entropy; with Geroch, gave the first argument suggesting that time machines might be destroyed whenever they try to form.


Weber, Joseph (b. 1919)

American experimental physicist; invented the world's first gravitational-wave detectors ("bar detectors") and co-invented interferometric detectors for gravitational waves; universally regarded as the "father" of the field of gravitational-wave detection.


Wheeler, John Archibald (b. 1911)

American theoretical physicist; mentor for American researches on black holes and other aspects of general relativity; with Harrison and Wakano, developed the equation of state for cold, dead matter and a complete catalog of cold, dead stars, thereby firming up evidence that when massive stars die they must form black holes; with Niels Bohr, developed the theory of nuclear fission; led a team that designed the first American hydrogen bombs; argued in a battle with Oppenheimer that black holes cannot form, then retracted the argument and became the leading proponent of black holes; coined the phrases "black hole" and "a black hole has no hair"; argued that the "issue of the final state" of gravitationally imploding stars is a key to understanding the marriage between general relativity and quantum mechanics, and in this argument anticipated Hawking's discovery that black holes can evaporate; developed foundations for the laws of quantum gravity and, most important, conceived and developed the concept of quantum foam, which we now suspect is the stuff of which singularities are made.


Zeldovich, Yakov Borisovich (1914-1987)

Soviet theoretical physicist and astrophysicist; mentor for Soviet astrophysicists; developed the theory of nuclear chain reactions; invented key ideas that underlie Soviet atomic and hydrogen bombs, and led a bomb design team; with Doroshkevich and Novikov, developed early evidence that black hole has no hair; invented several methods for astronomical searches for black holes, one of which seems ultimately to have succeeded; independently of Salpeter, proposed that supermassive black holes power quasars and radio galaxies; conceived of the idea that the laws of quantum mechanics might cause spinning black holes to radiate and thereby lose their spin and, with Starobinsky, proved so, but then resisted Hawking's proof that even nonspinning holes can radiate and evaporate.



Black Holes

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