The UK's Royal Mint Tuesday 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 aged 76 last year, joins the ranks of other eminent scientists such 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.
"We are very pleased to honour Stephen Hawking on his own coin. As one of the world's most brilliant physicists he was a great ambassador for science. His popularisation of science and breakthrough work on black holes stand as great achievements and significant contributions to humanity," said Nicola Howell, director of consumer at the Royal Mint.
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.
The cosmologist and author of 'A Brief History of Time' had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his 20s and went on to defy all predictions of his life-span as he made numerous discoveries as a wheelchair-bound scientist being able to speak only through a voice synthesiser.
Hawking's daughter Lucy, who recently visited the Royal Mint with her brother Tim to see the coins, said, "It is a great privilege to be featured on a coin and I hope my father would be pleased to be alongside Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin as scientists who have made it on to money".
Hawking, who died on March 14 last year, had once said that he thought his discovery that black holes were not entirely black would be his "greatest achievement".