The limits of information

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (4):511-524 (2001)
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Black holes have their own thermodynamics including notions of entropy and temperature and versions of the three laws. After a light introduction to black hole physics, I recollect how black hole thermodynamics evolved in the 1970s, while at the same time stressing conceptual points which were given little thought at that time, such as why the entropy should be linear in the black hole's surface area. I also review a variety of attempts made over the years to provide a statistical mechanics for black hole thermodynamics. Finally, I discuss the origin of the information bounds for ordinary systems that have arisen as applications of black hole thermodynamics.



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