Featured research papers
Here you can find 10 of my most impactful publications. For the rest of my publications, use the buttons below.
1. ‘Scalar particle production in Schwarzschild and Rindler metrics,’ P.C.W. Davies (1975) Journal of Physics A 8, 609-616.
This paper first demonstrated that an observer accelerating in a quantum vacuum should perceive a bath of thermal radiation. The now-famous Davies-Unruh effect is intensively studied today
2. ‘Energy-momentum tensor near an evaporating black hole,’ P.C.W. Davies, S. A. Fulling and W. G. Unruh (1976) Physical Review D 13, 2720-2723.
Explained how black holes evaporate from Hawking radiation. The hole shrinks as a result of negative energy flowing into the hole, not from positive energy flowing out.
3. ‘Energy-momentum tensor of a massless scalar quantum field in a Robertson-Walker universe,’ P.C.W. Davies, S. A. Fulling, S. M. Christensen and T. S. Bunch (1977), Annals of Physics 109(1), 108-142.
Foundational paper for quantum cosmology, giving an explicit expression for complete vacuum expectation value of a scalar field in a wide class of cosmological models.
4. ‘Davies, P.C.W. (1977). ‘The thermodynamic theory of black holes,’ P.C.W. Davies (1977) Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A, 353(1675), 499-521.
This paper compiled several novel thermodynamic properties of black holes, and included the derivation of a second-order phase transition for black holes of large electric charge or angular momentum. Their specific heat abruptly flips from negative to positive.
5. Quantum field theory in de Sitter space; renormalization by point splitting,’ T. S. Bunch & P.C.W. Davies (1978). Proceedings of the Royal Society A 360, 117-134.
The paper that derived the famous Bunch-Davies quantum vacuum state – the standard explanation for the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation that imprinted the large-scale structure on the universe.
6. ‘Cosmological horizons and entropy,’ P.C.W. Davies (1988), Classical and Quantum Gravity, 5(10), 1349-1355.
Generalized Hawking’s area theorem from black holes to a wide class of cosmological models. Heralded a series of investigative projects further generalizing the second law of thermodynamics.
7. ‘The transfer of viable micro-organisms between planets,’ P.C.W. Davies in Evolution of Hydrothermal Ecosystems on Earth (and Mars?): Proceedings of the CIBA Foundation Symposium No. 20, (eds. G. Brock and J. Goode, Wiley, 1996) 304-310.
Paper proposed that viable microorganisms can be transferred between Earth and Mars in impact ejecta, many years before that scenario became widely accepted.
8. ‘Searching for alien artifacts on the moon,’ P.C.W. Davies, P.C.W. & R.V. Wagner (2013), Acta Astronautica, 89, 261-265.
Conceived with a student as a bit of fun, this paper is proving remarkably influential now that some astrobiologists are taking more seriously the possibility of an alien technosignature in our cosmic backyard.
9. ‘The informational architecture of the cell,’ S.I. Walker, H. Kim & P.C.W. Davies (2016), Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, 374, 2063, 1-20.
This paper laid the foundations for a reconceptualization of life based on the organization and nature of its information content. It was the first of many papers on the physics and mathematics of life to emerge from my collaboration with Sara Walker and her research group.
10. ‘Ancient genes establish stress-induced mutation as a hallmark of cancer,’ L. Cisneros, K. Bussey, A.J. Orr, M. Miočević, C.H. Lineweaver & P.C.W. Davies (2017), PloS One, 12(4), e0176258, 1-15.
Reports the discovery using phylostratigraphy that the elevated mutation rate of cancer is controlled by homologs of ancient bacterial genes that function as stress-response regulators in DNA double-strand repair.