About Jacob David Bekenstein
Jacob David Bekenstein (Hebrew: יעקב בקנשטיין) (born May 1, 1947) is 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.
Major contributions to physics
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.
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.
- The Bergmann Prize for Research (Israel) in 1977.
- The Landau Prize (Israel) in 1981.
- First prize of the Gravity Foundation Research Awards (USA) of 1981.
- The Rothschild Prize in Physics, 1988.
- Elected to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 1997.
- Elected to the World Jewish Academy of Sciences in 2003.
- The Israel Prize in Physics for 2005.
- The Weizmann Prize in the Exact Sciences from the Tel-Aviv municipality, 2011.
- The Wolf Prize in Physics in 2012.