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  • Stephen Hawking was one of the most

  • influential scientists of his generation.

  • From black holes to The Simpsons,

  • his impact on science and popular culture is hard to overestimate.

  • In this video we're going to look at just three publications that shaped his career.

  • Number one: 'The singularities of gravitational collapse and cosmology'

  • This paper was published in 1970.

  • It was a time when physicists were still finding some of the implications of general relativity hard to swallow,

  • in particular the possibility of black holes and infinitely dense singularities.

  • Hawking and others had already shown that singularities should form,

  • at least in an abstract mathematical setting.

  • In fact, in his PhD thesis, Hawking had explored how the universe itself

  • might have originated from a singularity at the beginning of time.

  • But in the 1970 paper, Hawking worked with eminent physicist Roger Penrose

  • and showed that general relativity, even in the real world,

  • really does predict singularities.

  • Number two: 'Black hole explosions?'

  • As time went on Stephen Hawking's name would become inextricably linked with black holes.

  • This paper really was called 'Black hole explosions?' with a question mark.

  • He had a knack for grabbing people's attention.

  • It describes what came to be known as Hawking radiation

  • which many physicists regard as his most important legacy.

  • Hawking was trying to reconcile two seemingly incompatible theories.

  • One was general relativity, which works well for describing the largest scales in the universe,

  • the other was quantum theory, which describes the smallest scales.

  • Hawking realised that if you believe both theories,

  • the event horizon of a black hole should emit radiation.

  • He had shown that black holes are not actually black.

  • To this day physicists continue to argue over the implications of Hawking radiation

  • and in particular about whether it erases information from the universe,

  • which would violate quantum theory.

  • And finally, number three: 'A brief history of time'.

  • This is not a scientific paper but rather a popular science book

  • and it is this book which would catapult Hawking from prominent scientist

  • to probably the most famous scientist of his time.

  • It gave him a new platform as a science communicator, a spokesperson and a cultural phenomenon.

  • Ever since people around the world have been fascinated by his story, his intellect and his tenacity.

  • Many now know Stephen Hawking for his characteristic synthetic voice,

  • his appearances on television shows

  • or his controversial opinions on a whole host of issues

  • from AI through to alien life.

  • But behind the pop-culture icon, there was a scientist whose legacy will endure.

  • And as Hawking himself once said:

  • "I hope I will be remembered for my work on black holes and the origin of the Universe

  • not for things like appearing on The Simpsons."

Stephen Hawking was one of the most

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Stephen Hawking: Three publications that shaped his career

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    Samuel posted on 2018/03/14
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