Foundations of Physics

, Volume 29, Issue 10, pp 1499–1520 | Cite as

Classical Roots of the Unruh and Hawking Effects

  • M. Pauri
  • M. Vallisneri


Although the Unruh and Hawking phenomena are commonly linked to field quantization in “accelerated” coordinates or in curved space-times, we argue that they are deeply rooted at the classical level. We maintain, in particular, that these effects should be best understood by considering how the special-relativistic notion of “particle” gets blurred when employed in theories including accelerated observers or in general-relativistic theories and that this blurring is an instantiation of a more general behavior arising when the principle of equivalence is used to generalize classical or quantum special-relativistic theories to curved space-times or accelerated observers. A classical analogue of the Unruh effect, stemming from the noninvariance of the notion of “electromagnetic radiation” as seen by inertial and accelerated observers, is illustrated by means of four gedanken-experimente. The issue of energy balance in the various cases is also briefly discussed.


Radiation Energy Balance Electromagnetic Radiation General Behavior Classical Level 
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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Pauri
  • M. Vallisneri

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