STOCKHOLM (VINnews) — Just a day after a Jewish virologist shared the 2020 Nobel prize for Medicine for his seminal work on identifying hepatitis C, Roger Penrose, a Jewish physicist received the Nobel prize for Physics for his work on black holes.
The 89-year-old British physicist, who is currently at Oxford University, received half of the prize for demonstrating that Einstein’s general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes. Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, who shared the other half of the prize, discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy. A supermassive black hole is the only currently known explanation for this.
Penrose used ingenious mathematical methods to prove that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really exist.
In January 1965, ten years after Einstein’s death, Roger Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail; at their heart, black holes hide a singular quality in which all the known laws of nature cease. His ground-breaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein.
For his contributions to the mathematical physics of general relativity and cosmology, Penrose has received several prizes and awards previously, including the 1988 Wolf Prize in Physics, which he shared with Stephen Hawking for the Penrose–Hawking singularity theorems.
Penrose and Harvey Alter, who received the Nobel prize for Medicine Monday join the distinguished and disproportionately large number of Jews who have attained the coveted prize. In all, some 22.5% of the prizes have been won by Jews but in the fields of the sciences and economics they have excelled even more, with 27% of the prizes being given to Jews, which represents more than 140 times their representation in the world population.