# Stephen W. Hawking

Wolf Prize Laureate in Physics 1988

**Stephen W. Hawking**

#### Affiliation at the time of the award:

**University of Cambridge, United Kingdom**

#### Award citation:

**“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”.**

#### Prize share:

**Stephen W. Hawking**

**Roger Penrose **

Stephen W. Hawking (born in 1942, England) embarked on his university studies at the age of 17, attending University College, Oxford. He accomplished an exceptional first-class BA degree in physics. Continuing his academic pursuit, he commenced his graduate studies at Trinity Hall, Cambridge in October 1962. In March 1966, he achieved his PhD in applied mathematics and theoretical physics, specializing in general relativity and cosmology.

Following his studies, the main work of Professor Stephen W. Hawking is in general relativity and cosmology. Following the earlier work of Roger Penrose on collapsing stars, Hawking was the first to show that according to general relativity, without using quantum mechanics, the origin of the universe had to be singular. This means that the laws of physics break down at the origin of the universe and this created a major intellectual crisis for physics. The solution to this crisis is still unknown.

His next major work concerned the properties of black holes and general relativity. In the early 70’s he made major discoveries about the classical properties of black holes. However, in 1974 he astonished the scientific world by showing that when the surroundings of a black hole are treated quantum mechanically then the black hole turns out to have a temperature and an entropy, and to satisfy the laws of thermodynamics. In particular, a black hole would radiate as if it were a black body with a temperature inversely proportional to its mass. The final stages of this process would be violently explosive.

This work represented a new branch of physics in which general relativity, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics are combined.