The UK’s Royal Mint unveiled a new commemorative 50 pence coin inspired by the late legendary British physicist Stephen Hawking’s seminal work on black holes. Hawking, one of the world’s best-known theoretical physicists who died last year, joins the ranks of other scientists Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin to have a commemorative coin in honour of one of his greatest discoveries that black holes should not be all black.
“This work, which used a tentative unification of Einstein’s theory of general relativity with quantum mechanics, reported that black holes should not be completely black, instead emitting radiation, meaning they evaporate and eventually disappear,” Royal Mint said in a statement. The coin, on sale in silver and gold forms for a price range between 55 and 795 pounds on the Royal Mint’s website, is a nod to Hawking’s research into black holes and his ability to make science accessible for all.
Edwina Ellis, who designed the unusual coins, explained her inspiration behind it. “Stephen Hawking made difficult subjects accessible, engaging and relatable and this is what I wanted to portray in my design, which is inspired by a lecture he gave in Chile in 2008,” Ellis said. “Hawking, at his playful best, invites the audience to contemplate peering into a black hole before diving in. I wanted to fit a big black hole on the tiny coin and wish he was still here chortling at the thought,” she said.