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Public lecture: The mystery of black hole entropy
Start: 20/10/2022, 18:00
End: 20/10/2022, 19:30
Contact:René Kotze -
Location: Room 1005, Mathematics and Industrial Psychology Building

​​​Stellenbosch University in partnership with the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) cordially invites you to a public lecture by Prof Erik Aurell from the Royal Institute of Technology at Stockholm, as part of the Nobel Symposium on Predictability of Science in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. The title of the talk is "The mystery of black hole entropy".

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In statistical mechanics entropy is a measure of disorder obeying Boltzmann’s formula S = log N, where N is the accessible phase space volume. In black hole thermodynamics one associates to a black hole a (Bekenstein-Hawking) entropy SBH . It is well known that SBH is very large for astrophysical black holes, much larger than any collection of material objects that could have given rise to the black hole. If SBH is an entropy the question is thus what is the corresponding N, and how come this very large phase space volume is only opened up to the universe by a gravitational collapse.

I will discuss these issues from the viewpoint of statistical mechanics, and of the still active discussion on the meaning of thermodynamic entropy. I will also discuss recent results with Pawel Horodecki and Mikhail Eckstein on Hawking radiation and the quantum marginal problem (Aurell, Eckstein & Horodecki, JCAP 2022).

More about the speaker

Professor Aurell started his scientific career as a mathematical physicist, receiving his PhD at Goteborg University in Sweden in 1989, and did a postdoc 1989-90 at the Observatoire de Nice, France. He has held the chair of Theorical Biological Physics at KTH since 2003. Previous positions include Finland Distinguished Professor at the Academy of Finland (2008-2013) and shorter guest professorships in Finland, China and France. Since 2021, he has served as a Board Member of European Physical Society Statistical and Nonlinear Physics Division.

Aurell has worked on nonlinear dynamics, turbulence models, biological physics/systems biology and related inference problems, stochastic thermodynamics and open quantum systems.

  • The Nobel Symposium on Predictability of Science in the Age of Artificial Intelligence will be held from 24 to 28 October 2022 at STIAS as the inaugural Symposium in the 'Nobel in Africa' Symposia Series.
  • Nobel in Africa is a joint Special Initiative of STIAS, the Nobel Foundation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, in partnership with Stellenbosch University.