Born in Oxford, England, Hawking was a mediocre student as a child but went on to revolutionise physics and cosmology – the study of the origin and evolution of the universe.
While Hawking may be a household name, many people aren’t necessarily familiar with his contributions to science.
Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, published in 1915, suggested the existence of black hole – an object whose gravitational pull is so intense that once something passes a region known as the event horizon, there’s no escape.
In 1974, Hawking shocked the physics community by theorising that some things can escape a black hole before crossing the event horizon. Subatomic particle pairs – such as photons and neutrinos – near that point of no return could result in one particle being ejected. This became known as the Hawking radiation.
In 2014, Hawking released a paper titled Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes in which he surprised the astrophysics community by suggesting black holes weren’t so black after all. He challenged his initial theory from 1974 that suggested nothing could escape a black hole after crossing the event horizon. His new paper said light may be able to pass through the point of no return area and leak information in the form of matter.