The Many Definitions of a Black Hole

Nature Astronomy 3:27-34 (2019)
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Abstract

Although black holes are objects of central importance across many fields of physics, there is no agreed upon definition for them, a fact that does not seem to be widely recognized. Physicists in different fields conceive of and reason about them in radi- cally different, and often conflicting, ways. All those ways, however, seem sound in the relevant contexts. After examining and comparing many of the definitions used in practice, I consider the problems that the lack of a universally accepted definition leads to, and discuss whether one is in fact needed for progress in the physics of black holes. I conclude that, within reasonable bounds, the profusion of different definitions is in fact a virtue, making the investigation of black holes possible and fruitful in all the many different kinds of problems about them that physicists consider, although one must take care in trying to translate results between fields.

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Author's Profile

Erik Curiel
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

Citations of this work

On the Limits of Experimental Knowledge.Peter Evans & Karim P. Y. Thebault - 2020 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 378 (2177).
Singularities and Black holes.Erik Curiel - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Emergence and correspondence for string theory black holes.Jeroen van Dongen, Sebastian De Haro, Manus Visser & Jeremy Butterfield - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 69:112-127.
Black Hole Philosophy.Gustavo E. Romero - 2021 - Crítica. Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía 53 (159):73–132.
Trouble on the Horizon for Presentism.Sam Baron & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2023 - Philosophers' Imprint 23 (1):2.

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Horizon Entropy.Ted Jacobson & Renaud Parentani - 2003 - Foundations of Physics 33 (2):323-348.

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