General Relativity and Gravitation

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 1437–1454 | Cite as

Race for the Kerr field

  • G. DautcourtEmail author
Open Access


Roy P. Kerr has discovered his celebrated metric 45 years ago, yet the problem to find a generalization of the Schwarzschild metric for a rotating mass was faced much earlier. Lense and Thirring, Bach, Andress, Akeley, Lewis, van Stockum and others have tried to solve it or to find an approximative solution at least. In particular Achilles Papapetrou, from 1952 to 1961 in Berlin, was interested in an exact solution. He directed the author in the late autumn of 1959 to work on the problem. Why did these pre-Kerr attempts fail? Comments based on personal reminiscences and old notes.


Exact solutions Axisymmetric stationary fields Kerr metric Black Hole History of physics 



The author is grateful to R. Kerr, W. Kundt, A. Rendall and G. Wallis for reading the manuscript and for comments and suggestions. He also thanks the referees for suggesting improvements.

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution,and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik, Albert-Einstein-InstitutGolmGermany

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