06 October 2020 16:37

Nobel Prize in Physics Reinhard Genzel Black hole

"I tried to produce diagrams with roads and rivers and trains and things, which were impossible. And then I sort of simplified it into what I considered to be the essence of it, which was what they call a tri bar. It's just a triangle made of three rods stuck together in an impossible way. And I showed this to my father and he got fascinated by it and started to produce buildings, which were impossible, and finally came up with a staircase." A COLCHESTER scientist has been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for physics for his work advancing our understanding of black holes. Sir Roger Penrose, who was born in the town in 1931, was given the award for "the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity." Sir Roger, a University of Oxford professor, used ingenious mathematical methods in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Einstein did not himself believe black holes really exist. In January 1965, ten years after Einstein's death, Sir Roger proved black holes really can form and described them in detail. His groundbreaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein. Queen Elizabeth II receiving Sir Roger Penrose and investing him with the Insignia of a Member of the Order of Merit. Picture: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire He will share the award alongside fellow scientists Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.

Sir Roger will receive half of the 10 million Swedish kronor prize money. David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics, said: "The discoveries of this year's Laureates have broken new ground in the study of compact and supermassive objects. "But these exotic objects still pose many questions that beg for answers and motivate future research. Not only questions about their inner structure, but also questions about how to test our theory of gravity under the extreme conditions in the immediate vicinity of a black hole." Illustration issued by Nobel Media of Sir Roger Penrose who is among three scientists who have won this year's Nobel Prize in physics What is a black hole? NASA says a black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying. Because no light can get out, people can't see black holes. Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.