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Wheeler v. Einstein

  1. Apr 23, 2008 #1
    Einstein v. Wheeler's Black Holes

    John Wheeler who died earlier this month (13 April) not only coined the term
    'black hole', but is of course closely identified with the very concept of a
    gravitationally collapsed object.

    So he surely carries much of the blame for the basic deviation from
    sound relativistic physics. Of Einstein's two major contributions,
    the special theory means that nothing can travel faster than light,
    while the general theory means nothing can get into a 'black hole'.

    The latter is because the extreme distortion of space time at the
    event horizon of an imagined black-hole forces an object to take
    infinite time to reach it, as seen by a distant observer. Einstein
    himself derived on the basis of a dust cloud model that:
    "Schwarzschild singularities do not exist in physical reality" (Ann. Math.
    40, 922-936, October 1939).

    Ths problem has recently been solved more completely in
    "Gravitational waves versus black holes" at <arXiv.org/abs/0707.0201>.

    If Wheeler and the mainstream physics community had accepted that
    black holes cannot form, relativity would have been consistent but
    lost much of its glamour. Speculations about a black hole's
    interior, or two connected by a "wormhole" constituting parallel
    universes, or merging black holes as a gigantic energy source would
    all be ruled out of court.

    With the passing of John Wheeler, can relativistic gravitational
    physics shed its speculative deviations from Einstein's realist
    heritage <crisisinphysics.co.uk> ?

    Max Wallis,
    Cardiff University
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2008 #2


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    I highlighted the section that doesn't make sense to me.
    There's a difference between "an object crossing the horizon"
    and "the arrival of information at some distant location that the crossing occurred."

    Are you aware of the "singularity theorems"?
  4. Apr 24, 2008 #3
    Well... if you believe in any form of relativity, then surely you can't favour one coordinate system over another. Basic relativity says that spacetime is perfectly well behaved at the horizon, and you are free to pick a coordinate system in which things don't blow up. Yes, a single coordinate system doesn't describe both observers very well, but black holes aren't special in this regard. You could talk about an accelerating observer and the rindler coordinates and get the same effect.

    Please don't confuse pitfalls of basic differential geometry with actual physics problems. The problems with black holes have nothing to do with them forming, but all about what happens after they form.

  5. Apr 25, 2008 #4
    Black holes can form. Its simply an error to think of black holes as singularities. A black hole is an object so dense that not even light can escape. All the matter is contained within the Schwarzschild radius (or at least very close to it). The reason that no fine point is made regarding this is because an outside observer cannot determine the mass distribution. The matter that is outside the black hole (just a tad outside the Schwarzschild radius radius) cannot be observed because light comming from it is too far redshifted to observe. That they do exist is a matter of observation. The existance of a black hole at the center of our galaxy is consistent with observation. Also, micro black holes, if they do exist, never formed but have existed since the beginning of the universe.

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