Golden age of general relativity

Golden age of general relativity

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The golden age of general relativity is the period roughly from 1960 to 1975 during which the study of general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

, which had previously been regarded as something of a curiosity, entered the mainstream of theoretical physics
Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

. During this period, many of the concepts and terms which continue to inspire the imagination of gravitation researchers (and members of the general public) were introduced, including black hole
Black hole
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

s and 'gravitational singularity
Gravitational singularity
A gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system...

'. At the same time, in closely related development, the study of physical cosmology
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

 entered the mainstream and the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

 became well established.

Paradigm shifts

A number of simultaneous paradigm shift
Paradigm shift
A Paradigm shift is, according to Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science...

s characterize the Golden Age of general relativity. First and foremost, the Big Bang became the canonical cosmological model. Other paradigm shifts included a growing appreciation of the:
  • Role of curvature in general relativity;
  • Theoretical importance of black holes;
  • Importance of geometrical machinery and levels of mathematical structure, especially local
    Local spacetime structure
    Local spacetime structure refers to the structure of spacetime on a local level, i.e. only considering those points in an open region of a point. This notion is useful in many areas of physics, most notably in Einstein's theory of general relativity....

     versus global spacetime structure;
  • Overall legitimacy of cosmology
    Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

     by the wider physics community.

The golden age witnessed the first worthy competitor to general relativity (the Brans–Dicke theory), and the first "precision tests" of gravitation theories. The era also saw a number of astounding discoveries in observational astronomy:
  • Quasar
    A quasi-stellar radio source is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than...

    s (objects the size of the solar system
    Solar System
    The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

     and as luminous as a hundred modern galaxies
    A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias , literally "milky", a...

    , so distant that they date from the early years of the universe);
  • Pulsar
    A pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth. This is called the lighthouse effect and gives rise to the pulsed nature that gives pulsars their name...

    s (soon interpreted as spinning neutron stars);
  • The first credible candidate black hole, Cygnus X-1
    Cygnus X-1
    Cygnus X-1 is a well-known galactic X-ray source in the constellation Cygnus. It was discovered in 1964 during a rocket flight and is one of the strongest X-ray sources seen from Earth, producing a peak X-ray flux density of 2.3 Wm−2Hz−1...

  • The cosmic background radiation, hard evidence of the Big Bang and the subsequent expansion of the universe.


Some of the major events which occurred in and around the Golden Age are:
  • 1953: P. C. Vaidya
    P. C. Vaidya
    Prahalad Chunnilal Vaidya , was an Indian physicist and mathematician, renowned for his instrumental work in general theory of relativity...

     Newtonian time in general relativity, Nature, 171, p260.
  • 1955: Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri
    Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri
    Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri was a leading physicist well known for his contributions to relativistic cosmology, particularly Raychaudhuri's equation, which is a key ingredient in proving the Penrose-Hawking singularity theorems of general relativity...

     publishes the Raychaudhuri equation
    Raychaudhuri equation
    In general relativity, the Raychaudhuri equation, or Landau-Raychaudhuri equation, is a fundamental result describing the motion of nearby bits of matter....

    , which played a significant role in the singularity theorems.
  • 1956: John Lighton Synge
    John Lighton Synge
    John Lighton Synge was an Irish mathematician and physicist.-Background:Synge was born 1897 in Dublin, Ireland, in a Protestant family and educated at St. Andrew's College, Dublin. He entered Trinity College, Dublin in 1915...

     publishes the first relativity text emphasizing spacetime diagrams
    Minkowski diagram
    The Minkowski diagram was developed in 1908 by Hermann Minkowski and provides an illustration of the properties of space and time in the special theory of relativity. It allows a quantitative understanding of the corresponding phenomena like time dilation and length contraction without mathematical...

     and geometrical methods,
  • 1957: Felix A. E. Pirani uses Petrov classification
    Petrov classification
    In differential geometry and theoretical physics, the Petrov classification describes the possible algebraic symmetries of the Weyl tensor at each event in a Lorentzian manifold....

     to understand gravitational radiation,
  • 1957: Richard Feynman
    Richard Feynman
    Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

     introduces sticky bead argument
    Sticky bead argument
    In general relativity, the sticky bead argument is a simple thought experiment designed to show that gravitational radiation is indeed predicted by general relativity, and can have physical effects...

  • 1959: Pound–Rebka experiment, first precision test of gravitational redshift,
  • 1959: Lluis Bel introduces Bel–Robinson tensor and the Bel decomposition
    Bel decomposition
    In semi-Riemannian geometry, the Bel decomposition, taken with respect to a specific timelike congruence, is a way of breaking up the Riemann tensor of a pseudo-Riemannian manifold into four pieces. It was introduced in 1959 by the physicist Lluis Bel....

     of the Riemann tensor,
  • 1959: Arthur Komar introduces the Komar mass
    Komar mass
    The Komar mass of a system is one of several formal concepts of mass that are used in general relativity. The Komar mass can be defined in any stationary spacetime, which is a spacetime in which all the metric can be written so that they are independent of time...



  • 1960: Martin Kruskal
    Martin Kruskal
    Martin David Kruskal was an American mathematician and physicist. He made fundamental contributions in many areas of mathematics and science, ranging from plasma physics to general relativity and from nonlinear analysis to asymptotic analysis...

     and George Szekeres
    George Szekeres
    George Szekeres AM was a Hungarian-Australian mathematician.-Early years:Szekeres was born in Budapest, Hungary as Szekeres György and received his degree in chemistry at the Technical University of Budapest. He worked six years in Budapest as an analytical chemist. He married Esther Klein in 1936...

     independently introduce the Kruskal–Szekeres coordinates for the Schwarzschild vacuum,
  • 1960: Shapiro effect confirmed,
  • 1960: Thomas Matthews and Allan R. Sandage associate 3C 48 with a point-like optical image, show radio source can be at most 15 light minutes in diameter,
  • 1960: Carl H. Brans
    Carl H. Brans
    Carl Henry Brans is an American mathematical physicist best known for his research into the theoretical underpinnings of gravitation elucidated in his most widely publicized work, the Brans–Dicke theory....

     and Robert H. Dicke
    Robert H. Dicke
    Robert Henry Dicke was an American physicist who made important contributions to the fields of astrophysics, atomic physics, cosmology and gravity.-Biography:...

     introduce Brans–Dicke theory, the first viable alternative theory with a clear physical motivation,
  • 1960: Joseph Weber
    Joseph Weber
    Joseph Weber was an American physicist. He gave the earliest public lecture on the principles behind the laser and the maser and developed the first gravitational wave detectors .-Early education:...

     reports observation of gravitational waves (a claim now generally discounted),
  • 1960: Ivor M. Robinson and Andrzej Trautman
    Andrzej Trautman
    Andrzej Mariusz Trautman is a leading mathematical physicist who has made important contributions to classical gravitation in general and to general relativity in particular....

     discover the Robinson–Trautman null dust solution
    Null dust solution
    In mathematical physics, a null dust solution is a Lorentzian manifold in which the Einstein tensor is null...

  • 1961: Pascual Jordan
    Pascual Jordan
    -Further reading:...

     and Jürgen Ehlers
    Jürgen Ehlers
    Jürgen Ehlers was a German physicist who made notable contributions to the current understanding of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity...

     develop the kinematic decomposition of a timelike congruence,
  • 1962: Roger Penrose
    Roger Penrose
    Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College...

     and Ezra T. Newman
    Ezra T. Newman
    Ezra Ted Newman is an American physicist, known for his many contributions to general relativity theory. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh...

     introduce the Newman–Penrose formalism,
  • 1962: Ehlers and Wolfgang Kundt classify the symmetries of Pp-wave spacetimes,
  • 1962: Joshua Goldberg and Rainer K. Sachs prove the Goldberg–Sachs theorem,
  • 1962: Ehlers introduces Ehlers transformations, a new solution generating method,
  • 1962: Cornelius Lanczos
    Cornelius Lanczos
    Cornelius Lanczos Löwy Kornél was a Hungarian-Jewish mathematician and physicist, who was born on February 2, 1893, and died on June 25, 1974....

     introduces the Lanczos potential
    Lanczos tensor
    There are two different tensors sometimes referred to as the Lanczos tensor :* A tensor in the theory of quadratic Lagrangians, which vanishes in four dimensions....

     for the Weyl tensor
    Weyl tensor
    In differential geometry, the Weyl curvature tensor, named after Hermann Weyl, is a measure of the curvature of spacetime or, more generally, a pseudo-Riemannian manifold. Like the Riemann curvature tensor, the Weyl tensor expresses the tidal force that a body feels when moving along a geodesic...

  • 1962: R. Arnowitt, Stanley Deser
    Stanley Deser
    Stanley Deser is an American physicist known for his contributions to general relativity. Currently, he is the Ancell Professor of Physics at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts....

    , and Charles W. Misner
    Charles W. Misner
    Charles W. Misner is an American physicist and one of the authors of Gravitation. His specialties include general relativity and cosmology. His work has also provided early foundations for studies of quantum gravity and numerical relativity....

     introduce the ADM reformulation and global hyperbolicity,
  • 1962: Yvonne Choquet-Bruhat
    Yvonne Choquet-Bruhat
    Yvonne Choquet-Bruhat is a French mathematician and physicist. She was the first woman to be elected to the Académie des Sciences Française and is a Grand Officier of the Légion d'honneur....

     on Cauchy problem and global hyperbolicity,
  • 1962: Istvan Ozsvath and Englbert Schücking rediscover the circularly polarized monochromomatic gravitational wave,
  • 1962: Hans Adolph Buchdahl discovers Buchdahl's theorem,
  • 1962: Hermann Bondi
    Hermann Bondi
    Sir Hermann Bondi, KCB, FRS was an Anglo-Austrian mathematician and cosmologist. He is best known for developing the steady-state theory of the universe with Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold as an alternative to the Big Bang theory, but his most lasting legacy will probably be his important...

     introduces Bondi mass,
  • 1963: Roy Kerr
    Roy Kerr
    Roy Patrick Kerr CNZM is a New Zealand mathematician who is best known for discovering the Kerr vacuum, an exact solution to the Einstein field equation of general relativity...

     discovers the Kerr vacuum solution
    Kerr metric
    The Kerr metric describes the geometry of empty spacetime around an uncharged axially-symmetric black-hole with an event horizon which is topologically a sphere. The Kerr metric is an exact solution of the Einstein field equations of general relativity; these equations are highly non-linear, which...

     of Einstein's field equations,
  • 1963: Redshifts of 3C 273 and other quasars show they are very distant; hence very luminous,
  • 1963: Newman, T. Unti and L.A. Tamburino introduce the NUT vacuum solution,
  • 1963: Roger Penrose
    Roger Penrose
    Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College...

     introduces Penrose diagram
    Penrose diagram
    In theoretical physics, a Penrose diagram is a two-dimensional diagram that captures the causal relations between different points in spacetime...

    s and Penrose limits,
  • 1963: First Texas Symposium on Gravitational Astrophysics held in Dallas, December 16–18,
  • 1964: R. W. Sharp and Misner introduce the Misner–Sharp mass,
  • 1964: M. A. Melvin discovers the Melvin electrovacuum solution (aka the Melvin magnetic universe),
  • 1965: Roger Penrose proves first of the singularity theorems,
  • 1965: Newman and others discover the Kerr–Newman electrovacuum solution,
  • 1965: Penrose discovers the structure of the light cones in gravitational plane wave
    Gravitational plane wave
    In general relativity, a gravitational plane wave is a special class of a vacuum pp-wave spacetime, and may be defined in terms of Brinkmann coordinates byds^2=[a+2bxy]du^2+2dudv+dx^2+dy^2...

  • 1965: Kerr and Alfred Schild
    Alfred Schild
    Alfred Schild was a leading American physicist, well-known for his contributions to the Golden age of general relativity ....

     introduce Kerr–Schild spacetimes,
  • 1965: Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, FRS ) was an Indian origin American astrophysicist who, with William A. Fowler, won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics for key discoveries that led to the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars...

     determines a stability criterion,
  • 1965: Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson
    Robert Woodrow Wilson
    For the American President, see Woodrow Wilson.Robert Woodrow Wilson is an American astronomer, 1978 Nobel laureate in physics, who with Arno Allan Penzias discovered in 1964 the cosmic microwave background radiation...

     discover the cosmic microwave background radiation
    Cosmic microwave background radiation
    In cosmology, cosmic microwave background radiation is thermal radiation filling the observable universe almost uniformly....

  • 1966: Sachs and Ronald Kantowski
    Ronald Kantowski
    Ronald Kantowski is a theoretical cosmologist, well known in the field of general relativity as the author, together with Rainer K. Sachs, of the Kantowski/Sachs dust solutions to the Einstein field equation. These are a widely used family of inhomogeneous cosmological models.Kantowski received his...

     discover the Kantowski–Sachs dust solution,
  • 1967: Jocelyn Bell and Antony Hewish
    Antony Hewish
    Antony Hewish FRS is a British radio astronomer who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 for his work on the development of radio aperture synthesis and its role in the discovery of pulsars...

     discover pulsars,
  • 1967: Robert H. Boyer and R. W. Lindquist introduce Boyer–Lindquist coordinates for the Kerr vacuum,
  • 1967: Bryce DeWitt
    Bryce DeWitt
    Bryce Seligman DeWitt was a theoretical physicist renowned for advancing gravity and field theories.-Biography:...

     publishes on canonical quantum gravity
    Quantum gravity
    Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...

  • 1967: Werner Israel
    Werner Israel
    Werner Israel, OC, FRSC, FRS is a Canadian physicist.Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, he received his B.Sc. in 1951 and his M.Sc. in 1954 from the University of Cape Town. He received his Ph.D...

     proves the no hair theorem
    No hair theorem
    The no-hair theorem postulates that all black hole solutions of the Einstein-Maxwell equations of gravitation and electromagnetism in general relativity can be completely characterized by only three externally observable classical parameters: mass, electric charge, and angular momentum...

  • 1967: Kenneth Nordtvedt develops PPN formalism,
  • 1967: Mendel Sachs
    Mendel Sachs
    Mendel Sachs is a US theoretical physicist who was Professor of Physics at the State University of New York Buffalo .- Education and career :...

     publishes factorization of Einstein's field equations,
  • 1967: Hans Stephani discovers the Stephani dust solution,
  • 1968: F. J. Ernst discovers the Ernst equation
    Ernst equation
    In mathematics, the Ernst equation is the non-linear partial differential equation\displaystyle \Re = ^2+^2.It is used to produce exact solutions of Einstein's equations....

  • 1968: B. Kent Harrison discovers the Harrison transformation, a solution-generating method,
  • 1968: Brandon Carter
    Brandon Carter
    Brandon Carter, FRS is an Australian theoretical physicist, best known for his work on the properties of black holes and for being the first to name and employ the anthropic principle in its contemporary form. He is a researcher at the Meudon campus of the Laboratoire Univers et Théories, part of...

     solves the geodesic equations for Kerr–Newmann electrovacuum,
  • 1968: Hugo D. Wahlquist discovers the Wahlquist fluid,
  • 1969: William B. Bonnor
    William B. Bonnor
    William Bowen Bonnor is a mathematician and gravitation physicist best known for his research into astrophysics, cosmology and general relativity. For most of his academic career he has been a professor of mathematics at the University of London....

     introduces the Bonnor beam
    Bonnor beam
    In general relativity, the Bonnor beam is an exact solution which models an infinitely long, straight beam of light. It is an explicit example of a pp-wave spacetime. It is named after William B...

  • 1969: Penrose proposes the (weak) cosmic censorship hypothesis
    Cosmic censorship hypothesis
    The weak and the strong cosmic censorship hypotheses are two mathematical conjectures about the structure of singularities arising in general relativity....

     and the Penrose process
    Penrose process
    The Penrose process is a process theorised by Roger Penrose wherein energy can be extracted from a rotating black hole...

  • 1969: Stephen W. Hawking proves area theorem for black holes,
  • 1969: Misner introduces the mixmaster universe
    Mixmaster universe
    The Mixmaster Universe is a solution to Einstein's field equations of general relativity studied by Charles Misner in an effort to better understand the dynamics of the early universe...



  • 1970: Franco J. Zerilli derives the Zerilli equation,
  • 1970: Vladimir A. Belinskiǐ, Isaak Markovich Khalatnikov
    Isaak Markovich Khalatnikov
    Isaak Markovich Khalatnikov is a leading Soviet physicist, well known for his role in developing the BKL conjecture in general relativity.Khalatnikov was born in Dnipropetrovsk and graduated from Dnipropetrovsk State University with a degree in Physics in 1941. He has been a member of the...

    , and Evgeny Lifshitz
    Evgeny Lifshitz
    Evgeny Mikhailovich Lifshitz was a leading Soviet physicist of Jewish origin and the brother of physicist Ilya Mikhailovich Lifshitz. Lifshitz is well known in general relativity for coauthoring the BKL conjecture concerning the nature of a generic curvature...

     introduce the BKL conjecture,
  • 1970: Chandrasekhar pushes on to 5/2 post-Newtonian order,
  • 1970: C.V.Vishveshwara proved the stability of the Schwarzschild black hole and also discovered the Quasinormal modes.
  • 1970: Hawking and Penrose prove trapped surfaces must arise in black holes,
  • 1970: the Kinnersley–Walker photon rocket,
  • 1970: Peter Szekeres introduces colliding plane waves,
  • 1971: Remo Ruffini
    Remo Ruffini
    Remo Ruffini is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Rome "Sapienza", since 1978...

     and Demetrios Christodoulou
    Demetrios Christodoulou
    Demetrios Christodoulou is a Greek mathematician and physicist, who first became well known for his proof, together with Sergiu Klainerman, of the nonlinear stability of the Minkowski spacetime...

    , Reversible Transformations of a Charged Black Hole, Physical Review D
  • 1971: Remo Ruffini
    Remo Ruffini
    Remo Ruffini is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Rome "Sapienza", since 1978...

     and John A. Wheeler, Introducing the Black Hole, Physics Today
  • 1971: Peter C. Aichelburg
    Peter C. Aichelburg
    Peter C. Aichelburg is an Austrian physicist well-known for his contributions to general relativity, particularly the Aichelburg-Sexl ultraboost of the Schwarzschild vacuum....

     and Roman U. Sexl introduce the Aichelburg–Sexl ultraboost,
  • 1971: Introduction of the Khan–Penrose vacuum, a simple explicit colliding plane wave spacetime,
  • 1971: Robert H. Gowdy introduces the Gowdy vacuum solutions (cosmological models containing circulating gravitational waves),
  • 1971: Cygnus X-1
    Cygnus X-1
    Cygnus X-1 is a well-known galactic X-ray source in the constellation Cygnus. It was discovered in 1964 during a rocket flight and is one of the strongest X-ray sources seen from Earth, producing a peak X-ray flux density of 2.3 Wm−2Hz−1...

    , the first solid black hole candidate, discovered by Uhuru satellite
    Uhuru (satellite)
    Uhuru was the first satellite launched specifically for the purpose of X-ray astronomy. It was also known as the X-ray Explorer Satellite, SAS-A , SAS 1, or Explorer 42.The observatory was launched on 12 December 1970 into an initial orbit of about 560 km apogee, 520 km...

  • 1971: William H. Press
    William H. Press
    William H. Press is an astrophysicist, theoretical physicist, and computational biologist. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Other honors include the 1981 Helen B...

     discovers black hole ringing by numerical simulation
    Numerical relativity
    Numerical relativity is one of the branches of general relativity that uses numerical methods and algorithms to solve and analyze problems. To this end, supercomputers are often employed to study black holes, gravitational waves, neutron stars and many other phenomena governed by Einstein's Theory...

  • 1971: Harrison and Estabrook algorithm for solving systems of PDEs,
  • 1971: James W. York
    James W. York
    James W. York, Jr. is an American mathematical physicist who is well known for his many important contributions to the theory of general relativity...

     introduces conformal method generating initial data for ADM initial value formulation,
  • 1971: Robert Geroch
    Robert Geroch
    Robert Geroch is a theoretical physicist and professor at the University of Chicago. He has worked prominently on general relativity and mathematical physics and has promoted the use of category theory in mathematics and physics. He was the Ph.D. supervisor for Abhay Ashtekar.Geroch obtained his Ph.D...

     introduces Geroch group
    Geroch group
    The Geroch group is an inifinite-dimensional symmetry group of axisymmetric, stationary vacuum spacetimes that are solutions of Einstein's equations of general relativity. It is generated by two non-commuting subgroups: the Matznerg–Misner group The Geroch group is an inifinite-dimensional...

     and a solution generating method,
  • 1972: Jacob Bekenstein
    Jacob Bekenstein
    Jacob David Bekenstein is an Israeli theoretical physicist who has contributed to the foundation of black hole thermodynamics and to other aspects of the connections between information and gravitation.-Biography:...

     proposes that black holes have a non-decreasing entropy
    Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when...

     which can be identified with the area,
  • 1972: Carter, Hawking and James M. Bardeen
    James M. Bardeen
    James Maxwell Bardeen is an American physicist, well known for his work in general relativity, particularly his role in formulating the laws of black hole mechanics. He also discovered the Bardeen vacuum, an exact solution of the Einstein field equation.Bardeen graduated from Harvard in 1960 and...

     propose the four laws of black hole mechanics,
  • 1972: Sachs introduces optical scalars
    Optical scalars
    In general relativity, optical scalars are a set of scalars that describe various properties of null geodesic congruences. The three optical scalars used in general relativity are expansion, shear and twist and were first defined and used by Sachs...

     and proves peeling theorem,
  • 1972: Rainer Weiss
    Rainer Weiss
    Rainer Weiss is professor of physics emeritus at MIT.- Early life and education :Weiss was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1932. Fleeing political unrest, his family moved first to Prague, in late 1932, and then to the United States, in 1938; his youth was spent in New York City, where he attended...

     proposes concept of interferometric gravitational wave detector,
  • 1972: J. C. Hafele and R. E. Keating perform Hafele–Keating experiment,
  • 1972: Richard H. Price
    Richard H. Price
    Richard H. Price is an American physicist specializing in general relativity.Price graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1960, and went on to earn a dual degree in physics and engineering from Cornell University in 1965. He earned his Ph.D. in 1971 from Caltech under the supervision of Kip...

     studies gravitational collapse
    Gravitational collapse
    Gravitational collapse is the inward fall of a body due to the influence of its own gravity. In any stable body, this gravitational force is counterbalanced by the internal pressure of the body, in the opposite direction to the force of gravity...

     with numerical simulations,
  • 1972: Saul Teukolsky
    Saul Teukolsky
    Saul Teukolsky is a theoretical astrophysicist and a professor of Physics and Astronomy at Cornell University. His major research interests include general relativity, relativistic astrophysics, and computational astrophysics.-Biography:...

     derives the Teukolsky equation,
  • 1972: Yakov B. Zel'dovich predicts the transmutation of electromagnetic and gravitational radiation,
  • 1973: P. C. Vaidya and L. K. Patel introduce the Kerr–Vaidya null dust solution,
  • 1973: Publication by Charles W. Misner
    Charles W. Misner
    Charles W. Misner is an American physicist and one of the authors of Gravitation. His specialties include general relativity and cosmology. His work has also provided early foundations for studies of quantum gravity and numerical relativity....

    , Kip S. Thorne and John A. Wheeler of the treatise Gravitation
    Gravitation (book)
    In physics, Gravitation is a very important reference book on Einstein's theory of gravity by Charles W. Misner, Kip S. Thorne, and John Archibald Wheeler. Often considered the "Bible" of General Relativity by researchers for its prominence. It is frequently called MTW after its authors' initials....

    , the first modern textbook on general relativity,
  • 1973: Publication by Stephen W. Hawking and George Ellis of the monograph The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time,
  • 1973: Geroch introduces the GHP formalism
    GHP formalism
    The GHP formalism is a technique used in the mathematics of general relativity that involves singling out a pair of null directions at each point of spacetime....

  • 1974: Russell Hulse and Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr.
    Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr.
    Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr. is an American astrophysicist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his discovery with Russell Alan Hulse of a "new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation."...

     discover the Hulse–Taylor binary pulsar
    PSR 1913+16
    PSR B1913+16 is a pulsar which together with another neutron star is in orbit around a common center of mass, thus forming a binary star system. In 1974 it was discovered by Russell Alan Hulse and Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr., of Princeton University...

  • 1974: James W. York
    James W. York
    James W. York, Jr. is an American mathematical physicist who is well known for his many important contributions to the theory of general relativity...

     and Niall Ó Murchadha present the analysis of the initial value formulation and examine the stability of its solutions,
  • 1974: R. O. Hansen introduces Hansen–Geroch multipole moments,
  • 1974: Tullio Regge
    Tullio Regge
    Tullio Regge is an Italian theoretical physicist. He obtained a degree in physics from the University of Turin in 1952, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Rochester in 1957 under the direction of Robert Marshak. From 1958 to 1959 Regge held a post at the Max Planck Institute for...

     introduces the Regge calculus
    Regge calculus
    In general relativity, Regge calculus is a formalism for producing simplicial approximations of spacetimes that are solutions to the Einstein field equation. The calculus was introduced by the Italian theoretician Tullio Regge in the early 1960s....

  • 1974: Hawking discovers Hawking radiation
    Hawking radiation
    Hawking radiation is a thermal radiation with a black body spectrum predicted to be emitted by black holes due to quantum effects. It is named after the physicist Stephen Hawking, who provided a theoretical argument for its existence in 1974, and sometimes also after the physicist Jacob Bekenstein...

  • 1975: Chandrasekhar and Steven Detweiler compute quasinormal modes,
  • 1975: Szekeres and D. A. Szafron discover the Szekeres–Szafron dust solutions,
  • 1976: Penrose introduces Penrose limits (every null geodesic in a Lorentzian spacetime behaves like a plane wave),
  • 1978: Penrose introduces the notion of a thunderbolt,
  • 1978: Belinskiǐ and Zakharov show how to solve Einstein's field equations using the inverse scattering transform
    Inverse scattering transform
    In mathematics, the inverse scattering transform is a method for solving some non-linear partial differential equations. It is one of the most important developments in mathematical physics in the past 40 years...

    ; the first gravitational solitons,
  • 1979: Richard Schoen
    Richard Schoen
    Richard Melvin Schoen is an American mathematician. Born in Fort Recovery, Ohio, he received his PhD in 1977 from Stanford University where he is currently the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Humanities and Sciences...

     and Shing-Tung Yau
    Shing-Tung Yau
    Shing-Tung Yau is a Chinese American mathematician working in differential geometry. He was born in Shantou, Guangdong Province, China into a family of scholars from Jiaoling, Guangdong Province....

     prove the positive mass theorem
    Positive energy theorem
    In general relativity, the positive energy theorem states that, assuming the dominant energy condition, the mass of an asymptotically flat spacetime is non-negative; furthermore, the mass is zero only for Minkowski spacetime...


End of an era

The Golden Age is generally held to have ended with Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

's theoretical prediction of Hawking radiation
Hawking radiation
Hawking radiation is a thermal radiation with a black body spectrum predicted to be emitted by black holes due to quantum effects. It is named after the physicist Stephen Hawking, who provided a theoretical argument for its existence in 1974, and sometimes also after the physicist Jacob Bekenstein...


See also

  • Contributors to general relativity
    Contributors to general relativity
    This is a partial list of persons who have made major contributions to the development of standard mainstream general relativity. One simple rule of thumb for who belongs here is whether their contribution is recognized in the canon of standard general relativity textbooks. Some related lists are...

  • History of general relativity
    History of general relativity
    -Overview:General relativity is a theory of gravitation that was developed by Albert Einstein between 1907 and 1915, with contributions by many others after 1915...

  • Golden age of physics
    Golden Age of physics
    A Golden Age of physics appears to have been delineated for certain periods of progress in the physics sciences, and this includes the previous and current developments of cosmology, and astronomy. Each "golden age" introduces significant advancements in theoretical and experimental methods...

  • Golden age of cosmology
    Golden age of cosmology
    The golden age of cosmology is a term often used to describe the period from 1992 to the present in which important advances in observational cosmology have been made....