BFF-29 UK Nobel physics laureate pays tribute to snubbed Hawking

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UK Nobel physics laureate pays tribute to snubbed Hawking

LONDON, Oct 6, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Nobel physics laureate Roger Penrose
on Tuesday said his late colleague Stephen Hawking richly deserved a
share of the prize after the British scientists conducted pioneering
research into black holes.

Penrose, 89, told reporters that he had just come out of the shower
when he received confirmation of the prize from the Nobel committee.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all. It’s a huge honour and I’m sure it
will be a benefit to promoting ideas which I hope people will look at
a little more seriously, ideas about cosmology,” he said from his home
in Oxford.

Understanding black holes was important to shedding light on the
origins of matter and galaxies, the mathematician said, and
understanding the “singularities” that lie at their heart was the
“greatest puzzle” facing astrophysics today.

“We haven’t the faintest idea how to describe the physics that goes
on in the middle,” he said.

Penrose was jointly awarded the Nobel with two other physicists, in
his case for 1964 research that showed Albert Einstein’s general
theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes.

Penrose was one of Hawking’s PhD examiners in 1966, and they
collaborated on work into the origins of the universe.

Martin Rees, Britain’s astronomer royal and fellow of Trinity
College Cambridge, said they were “the two individuals who have done
more than anyone else since Einstein to deepen our knowledge of
gravity”.

“Sadly, this award was too much delayed to allow Hawking to share
the credit with Penrose,” he said.

Hawking, who died in March 2018 after a long neurodegenerative
illness, dedicated much of his life to explaining the existence of
black holes and the Big Bang at the universe’s creation.

Penrose said a Nobel prize for Hawking would have been
“well-deserved” but was possibly held back by the committee’s desire
to honour observable, rather than theoretical, science.

Nevertheless, he said evidence to back up Hawking’s theories of
radiation emitting from the evaporation of older black holes, even
from a previously extinct universe, was “extremely strong” and would
likely be vindicated in time.

For himself, Penrose said he was happy to have waited until late in
life before getting Nobel recognition.

“It’s a bad thing to get a Nobel prize too early. I know people who
got their prize I would consider too early, and it spoiled their
science,” he said.

Turning to sci-fi films, Penrose said that he “loved” Stanley
Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. But Christopher Nolan’s more recent
“Interstellar”, featuring a wormhole accessed through a bookcase, was
“nonsense”.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2256hrs