Monday, April 14, 2008

"Black Hole" namer dies

John A. Wheeler, Physicist Who Coined the Term ‘Black Hole,’ Is Dead at 96

An amazing obit about the scientist John A Wheeler. Please take the time to read about this fascinating fellow, but here are some highlights:

...Among Dr. Wheeler’s students was Richard Feynman of the California Institute of Technology...Another was Hugh Everett, whose Ph.D. thesis under Dr. Wheeler on quantum mechanics envisioned parallel alternate universes endlessly branching and splitting apart — a notion that Dr. Wheeler called “Many Worlds” and which has become a favorite of many cosmologists as well as science fiction writers...

...At a conference in New York in 1967, Dr. Wheeler, seizing on a suggestion shouted from the audience, hit on the name “black hole” to dramatize this dire possibility for a star and for physics...The black hole “teaches us that space can be crumpled like a piece of paper into an infinitesimal dot, that time can be extinguished like a blown-out flame, and that the laws of physics that we regard as ‘sacred,’ as immutable, are anything but...”

...he sailed to Copenhagen to work with Bohr, the godfather of the quantum revolution, which had shaken modern science with paradoxical statements about the nature of reality. “...You can talk about people like Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Confucius, but the thing that convinced me that such people existed were the conversations with Bohr,” Dr. Wheeler said...

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