OCT 16, 2020 8:54 AM PDT

The "Missing" Laureate at 2020 Physics Nobel

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Laureates of 2020 Physics Prize (Nobel Prize)

Last week, the science community celebrated the awarding of this year's Nobel Physics Prize to a trio of black hole researchers. It was also a poignant moment since the world's most prestigious honor missed an opportunity to pay tribute to a late giant in cosmology, Stephen Hawking.

Working with Rogen Penrose, the mathematician and theoretic physicist among the three laureates, Hawking helped build a solid mathematical foundation to the concept of black holes, which was first predicted in Einstein's theory of general relativity. They came up with the  Hawking-Penrose gravitational singularity theorems. 

The theorems imply that a massive dying star is capable of imploding to a point where its gravitational field becomes so strong that it forms a singularity. In theory, this astrophysical anormaly resembles the origin of our universe before the Big Bang. 

Armed with the theoretical knowledge of black holes, astrophysicists Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, the other two honored by the award, discovered that a dark, super-massive body lies in the center of Milkway, which a black hole is the only explanation by far.

Stephen Hawking Lecture - How to Escape Out of a Black Hole (Muon Ray)

What's more, Hawking is also behind the famous concept of Hawking radiation (or Hawking-Bekenstein radiation), an outlandish idea according to traditional physics thinkings.

Black holes, as their name indicates, absorb all light or electromagnetic radiation in their vicinity, thanks to their ultra-strong gravitational field. However, according to the second law of black hole thermodynamics, entropy arises within the event horizon, and one can't expect entropy without radiation. Although skeptical about the idea first, Hawking managed to demonstrate mathematically that black holes were not totally "black". They emit radiation as a type of elusive particles in the bizarre quantum realm. 

Admittedly, Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our time, wouldn't necessarily need more recognition in his well-decorated career. But the next time, when we zoom in on to an image of a black hole and marvel at its beautiful, magnificent existence, we should appreciate the fact that we stand on the shoulder of a giant, whose insights "light up" the darkest spots of our universe.

Sources: Nature News/Space.com

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
MAY 27, 2021
Neuroscience
Research Less Likely to Be True is Cited More
MAY 27, 2021
Research Less Likely to Be True is Cited More
Researchers from the University of California San Diego have found that non-replicable data is cited 153 times more ofte ...
JUL 19, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
ATP & GTP Are Common in Biology - But What About CTP?
JUL 19, 2021
ATP & GTP Are Common in Biology - But What About CTP?
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule that provides crucial energy to activate a wide array of biological processes ...
AUG 10, 2021
Neuroscience
Is consciousness a quantum phenomenon?
AUG 10, 2021
Is consciousness a quantum phenomenon?
Researchers experiments with quantum fractals reveal promising direction for consciousness research
AUG 25, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Environmental Effects of Fast Fashion
AUG 25, 2021
Environmental Effects of Fast Fashion
August 25th is National Secondhand Wardrobe Day! Today we celebrate reusing clothing and keeping it from ending up ...
AUG 30, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Arctic Could Be "Practically Ice Free" Before 2050
AUG 30, 2021
Arctic Could Be "Practically Ice Free" Before 2050
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) recent physical climate science report details the ...
SEP 06, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is Ready for Space!
SEP 06, 2021
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is Ready for Space!
With a long set of rigorous tests behind it, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s next major space telesc ...
Loading Comments...