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Professor Stephen Hawking: an appreciation by Lord Rees

ABSTRACT. In this paper, the Astronomer Royal and former Master of Trinity College, Lord Martin Rees, pays tribute to Professor Stephan Hawking, reminiscing the significant events of his life. The focal point of the essay is Hawking’s manifestation of willpower and determination in face of the deadly disease he was diagnosed with at the age of 22. Amongst some of the most significant achievements, Rees mentions Stephen’s ‘eureka moment’, namely when he unexpectedly discovered a link between gravity and quantum theory, predicting that black holes would not be completely black, but that they would radiate in a distinctive way. According to Hawking, this radiation is only significant for black holes because they are less massive than stars – and none of these have been found. ‘Hawking radiation’ theory had very deep implications for mathematical physics and one of the main achievements of string theory has been to corroborate his idea.

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