Stephen Hawking

Joe Satran and Ryan Grenoble “Iconic Physicist Stephen Hawking Dies At 76”
Robert Barr “Famed Physicist Stephen Hawking Has Died at the Age of 76”
CNN Staff “Stephen Hawking, renowned scientist, dies at 76”
Ian Sample “Stephen Hawking, cosmology's brightest star, dies aged 76”
Roger Penrose “'Mind over matter': Stephen Hawking – obituary by Roger Penrose”


With fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes. Hawking also discovered that black holes are not completely black but emit radiation and will likely eventually evaporate and disappear.

Hawking’s first major breakthrough came in 1970, when he and Roger Penrose applied the mathematics of black holes to the universe and showed that a singularity, a region of infinite curvature in spacetime, lay in our distant past: the point from which came the big bang*2.

In 1974 Hawking drew on quantum theory to declare that black holes should emit heat and eventually pop out of existence. For normal-sized black holes, the process is extremely slow, but miniature black holes would release heat at a spectacular rate, eventually exploding with the energy of a million one-megaton hydrogen bombs.

His proposal that black holes radiate heat stirred up one of the most passionate debates in modern cosmology. Hawking argued that if a black hole could evaporate, all the information that fell inside over its lifetime would be lost forever. It contradicted one of the most basic laws of quantum mechanics, and plenty of physicists disagreed. Hawking came round to believing the more common, if no less baffling, explanation that information is stored at a black hole’s event horizon, and encoded back into radiation as the black hole radiates.