How many black holes fit on the head of a pin?
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The Bekenstein–Hawking entropy of certain black holes can be computed microscopically in string theory by mapping the elusive problem of counting microstates of a strongly gravitating black hole to the tractable problem of counting microstates of a weakly coupled D-brane system, which has no event horizon, and indeed comfortably fits on the head of a pin. We show here that, contrary to widely held beliefs, the entropy of spherically symmetric black holes can easily be dwarfed by that of stationary multi-black-hole “molecules” of the same total charge and energy. Thus, the corresponding pin-sized D-brane systems do not even approximately count the microstates of a single black hole, but rather those of a zoo of entropically dominant multicentered configurations.