Today, on March 14, 2018, the universe lost someone who is perhaps one of the only people on Earth who knew its secrets: Stephen Hawking. He passed away peacefully after a truly unmatched career in physics in the company of his three children at his home in Cambridge, England.
Hawking is best known for his studies of black holes and his Theory of Everything, which examines the origin and existence of our universe. He wrote all of those findings down in layman’s terms in his bestselling book “A Brief History of Time” and his legacy changed the course of scientific study.
He was famously diagnosed with ALS at the age of 22 while studying at Cambridge. Doctors told him in 1963 that he would only have two years to live, but he went on to live over five decades after that. Here are 10 of Stephen Hawking’s accomplishments that changed the world forever.
1. He proved the existence of gravitational singularities.
Alongside Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking proved the existence of singularities. Singularities are one-dimensional points that contain infinite mass in an infinitely small space. In a singularity, space-time curves infinitely and the laws of physics effectively cease to exist. Hawking posited that the universe may have begun in a singularity.
2. He co-discovered the laws of black hole mechanics.
Along with James Bardeen and Brandon Carter, Hawking outlined the four laws of black hole mechanics, which are basically the rules by which black holes abide.
3. He discovered Hawking radiation.
Named for its discoverer, Hawking radiation is the radiation emitted by black holes. Before Hawking discovered this radiation, it was believed that nothing could escape from a black hole, but his findings ran counter to that belief. He found that black holes could emit radiation until they exhausted their energy and collapsed.
4. He backed up the theory of cosmic inflation.
Cosmic inflation is the theory that after the Big Bang, the universe expanded rapidly and exponentially until moving into a slower expansion. Hawking was able to produce calculations that reinforce the idea that cosmic inflation created galaxies.