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Professor Sir Roger Penrose awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics to Professor Sir Roger Penrose for the discovery which showed that the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes.

Professor Sir Roger Penrose
Professor Sir Roger Penrose (middle) receiving his honorary degree 2018

Sir Roger used ingenious mathematical methods in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really exist.

A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. The gravitational pull is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space and some times occurs when a star is dying.

In January 1965, ten years after Einstein’s death, Roger Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail; at their heart, black holes hide a singularity in which all the known laws of nature cease. His ground-breaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein.

The Nobel Prize panel said: "His ground-breaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein."

Sir Roger is a world renowned mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. He is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford.

He has had an enormous influence on the development of general relativity and cosmology, and more widely within mathematics, physics and the philosophy of science.

He spent two years as a research associate at King's between 1961 and 1963, where his work on the geometry of spacetime influenced Hermann Bondi and Felix Pirani in the Department of Mathematics. He was awarded an honorary degree by King's in 2018.

Sir Roger was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics along side Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our gravity.