The thermodynamics of black holes: from Penrose process to Hawking radiation
Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities, Essen, Germany
2 Max Planck Research Group Historical Epistemology of the Final Theory Program, Berlin, Germany
Accepted: 14 July 2021
Published online: 5 August 2021
In 1969, Roger Penrose proposed a mechanism to extract rotational energy from a Kerr black hole. With this, he inspired two lines of investigation in the years after. On the one side, the Penrose process, as it became known, allowed a comparison between black-hole mechanics and thermodynamics. On the other, it opened a path to a quantum description of those objects. This paper provides a novel take on the events that led to the rise of the thermodynamic theory of black holes, taking as a starting point the Penrose process. It studies the evolution of the research conducted independently by Western and Soviet physicists on the topic, culminating in Stephen Hawking’s groundbreaking discovery that black holes should radiate.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021