Wolf Prize Laureate in Physics 1988
The Physics Prize Committee has unanimously chosen the following two candidates to equally share the 1988 Wolf Prize in Physics: Roger Penrose and Stephen W. Hawking.
University of Oxford
Oxford, United Kingdom
“for their brilliant development of the theory of general relativity, in which they have shown the necessity for cosmological singularities and have elucidated the physics of black holes. In this work they have greatly enlarged our understanding of the origin and possible fate of the Universe.”
Professor Roger Penrose has made remarkable seminal contributions to the development of the general theory of relativity as well as to many other subjects in mathematical physics. He initiated the greatest discoveries in classical general relativity since its founding over seventy years ago by finding those conditions which must necessarily lead to “singularities” in any universe. These were applied to our own Universe to show that it must have began in a “big bang” and may end in a corresponding “crunch”. Related applications include the description of configurations in nature which lead inexorably to the formation of black holes. Penrose also showed how various natural processes may be extracting energy from the spin of such black holes. He has greatly enlarged our understanding of space – time by powerful analyses of its possible structure and by the invention of mathematical tools designed to allow an entirely new framework for the description of physical phenomena.