How far can the generalized second law be generalized?

P. C.W. Davies, Tamara M. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Jacob Bekenstein's identification of black hole event horizon area with entropy proved to be a landmark in theoretical physics. In this paper we trace the subsequent development of the resulting generalized second law of thermodynamics (GSL), especially its extension to incorporate cosmological event horizons. In spite of the fact that cosmological horizons do not generally have well-defined thermal properties, we find that the GSL is satisfied for a wide range of models. We explore in particular the case of an asymptotically de Sitter universe filled with a gas of small black holes as a means of casting light on the relative entropic 'worth' of black hole versus cosmological horizon area. We present some numerical solutions of the generalized total entropy as a function of time for certain cosmological models, in all cases confirming the validity of the GSL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1877-1889
Number of pages13
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Black holes
  • Cosmological constant
  • De Sitter space
  • Entropy
  • Horizons
  • Thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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