Jacob Bekenstein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jacob Bekenstein
Jacob Bekenstein
Born (1947-05-01) May 1, 1947 (age 68)
Mexico City, Mexico
Residence Jerusalem, Israel
Fields Theoretical physics
Institutions Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Alma mater Princeton University
Polytechnic University of New York
Doctoral advisor John Wheeler
Known for Black Hole Thermodynamics
Notable awards Rothschild Prize in Physics (1988)
Israel Prize (2005)
Wolf Prize in Physics (2012)

Jacob David Bekenstein (Hebrew: יעקב בקנשטיין) (born May 1, 1947) is a Mexican-Israeli theoretical physicist who has contributed to the foundation of black hole thermodynamics and to other aspects of the connections between information and gravitation.


Bekenstein was born in Mexico City, Mexico. He has been Arnow Professor of Astrophysics at Ben-Gurion University and is now Polak Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and of The World Jewish Academy of Sciences.


Bekenstein received his undergraduate education in the Polytechnic University (now the Polytechnic Institute of New York University) in Brooklyn, New York. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 1972, supervised by John Wheeler. He was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in 2009-10.[1]

Major contributions to physics[edit]

In 1972, Bekenstein was the first to suggest that black holes should have a well-defined entropy. Bekenstein also formulated the generalized second law of thermodynamics, black hole thermodynamics, for systems including black holes. Both contributions were affirmed when Stephen Hawking proposed the existence of Hawking radiation two years later. Hawking had initially opposed Bekenstein's idea.[2]

Based on his black-hole thermodynamics work, Bekenstein also demonstrated the Bekenstein bound: there is a maximum to the amount of information that can potentially be stored in a given finite region of space which has a finite amount of energy (which is similar to the holographic principle).

In 1982, Bekenstein was the first person to develop a rigorous framework to generalize the laws of electromagnetism to handle inconstant physical constants. His framework replaces the fine-structure constant by a scalar field. However, this framework for changing constants did not incorporate gravity.

In 2004, Bekenstein greatly boosted Mordehai Milgrom’s theory of Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) by developing a relativistic version. It is known as TeVeS for Tensor/Vector/Scalar and it introduces three different fields in space time to replace the one gravitational field.




  1. ^ Institute for Advanced Study: A Community of Scholars
  2. ^ Levi Julian, Hana (3 September 2012). "'40 Years of Black Hole Thermodynamics' in Jerusalem". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Israel Prize Judges’ Rationale for the award (in Hebrew)". Israel Prize Official Site. Archived from the original on 29 June 2010. 

External links[edit]