Professor Stephen Hawking, who died a year ago this week, has been honoured on a new 50p coin.
The coin’s design is inspired by Hawking’s work on black holes, and features an artist’s impression of a black hole along with one of Hawking’s equations above his name.
The famous physicist died at the age of 76, and joins Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton as one of a few select scientists to appear on British coins.
Speaking about the new coin, designer Edwina Ellis said, via BBC News:
I wanted to fit a big black hole on the tiny coin and wish he was still here chortling at the thought.
Ellis said she wanted the coin to reflect how Hawking ‘made difficult subjects accessible, engaging and relatable’, particularly when it came to black holes.
After visiting the Royal Mint, where the coin is made, Prof Hawking’s daughter Lucy said:
It is a great privilege to be featured on a coin and I hope my father would be pleased to be alongside Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin as scientists who have made it on to money.
Prof Hawking worked extensively on black holes, and wrote about them at length in his book A Brief History of Time. He also once told the BBC he thought his discovery that black holes were not entirely black would be his ‘greatest achievement’.
Prof Hawking is just the third person in British history to be commemorated with a coin one year after their death. The first two are former Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.
The release of the coin coincides with his death, on March 14 2018, caused by motor neurone disease, which he was diagnosed with at age 21. Hawking was originally given just two years to live by doctors but he completely defied the odds, living to the age of 76.
The physicist was best known for his research on Black Holes, with his non-fiction book A Brief History of Time rocketing Hawking to stardom. It stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for 237 weeks, selling 10 million copies and being translated into 40 different languages, according to The Guardian.
In the book he talks about the origin, development and eventual fate of the universe. His descriptions of the Big Bang, black holes and general relativity. As well as being a physicist and cosmologist, he was also the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge.
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