Three Scientists Awarded Nobel Prizes for Black Hole Research

Three scientists received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for two discoveries made about black holes in our universe.

Roger Penrose received half of the prize for demonstrating how black holes could form. Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel received the other half for their discovery of a supermassive object at the center of our galaxy.

The total prize awards $1.1 million to the recipient. That figure will split with half going to Penrose, one quarter to Ghez, and the remaining to Genzel.

This award makes it only the fourth time a woman has won the Nobel Prize in Physics. The other three are Marie Curie (1903), Marie Goeppert Mayer (1963), and Donna Strickland (2018).

Black Holes Come From Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity

When Einstein announced his general theory of relativity in 1915. It works to explain how we understand gravity. One of the first predictions coming from this scientific approach was the extreme option of black hole creation.

Karl Schwarzschild used Einstein’s work to show that the equations pointed out that putting too much matter and energy inside of a space not capable of managing it would collapse space-time into a singularity. That place would not hold the same physical laws as the rest of the universe.

Einstein saw that the math was correct. He also felt that nature would find ways to avoid such a problematic issue. Those hopes disappeared in 1965 with Penrose’s work on black holes.

The Penrose diagram bypasses general relativity’s mathematical complexity to make it much easier to explore the universe’s foundations. His work shows that black holes are the gateway to the literal end of time.

After making these observations, Penrose collaborated with Stephen Hawking to prove that the universe must also have a beginning event if general relativity is correct.

With these discoveries, most experts believe that Einstein’s theory will require modifications to manage extreme situations.