Stephen Hawking made significant contributions to the world through his physics work but it’s one of his biggest accomplishments that linked two opposing worlds of physics. Black holes were once considered mysterious garbage collectors.
The gravitational pull of these holes was believed to be so strong that they could really pull anything including light. However, Stephen Hawking found that there was one thing that could overcome the gravitational strength of black holes and that was radiation.
This was quite a breakthrough achievement that has been followed up with additional research on black holes. Today, we know that back holes are not as black as earlier thought. They do have some glow that comes from the energy that they radiate. Hawking radiation that explains how this phenomenon works became his biggest achievement.
According to Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the foundation of Hawking’s achievement was based on the discovery that black holes have a temperature. Most importantly, Hawking’s discovery reconciled two competing schools of thought in theoretical physics.
Quantum mechanics tries to explain how the universe works at the smallest level. As such, quantum mechanics involves the study of particles such as atoms and electrons. General relativity, on the other hand, tries to explain how gravity works. The two theories have been the basis of theoretical physics research for years and they are backed by very strong science. However, they have always been in conflict.
Hawking managed to reconcile these thoughts by looking at a massive object with a lot of gravitational force on a small scale. Simply put, Hawking analyzed the interaction of particles at the edge of a black hole when he made this discovery. Although the Hawking radiation didn’t really solve a lot of the mysteries that surround black holes, but it opened a new door to reconciling quantum mechanics and gravity.
In addition to this, Hawking’s discovery about black holes stirred up the imagination of many people. For a long time, such concepts were considered abstract and arbitrary to humans. Hawking was able to inspire interest towards the universe and what it’s made of. Ordinary people started to wonder what’s really out there.
Hawking was pretty much a media person too. The theoretical physicist has appeared in many TV shows such as The Simpsons and Star Trek. Much of his work has also been published in books written by him.
Although bringing together quantum mechanics and general relativity will remain Hawking’s biggest achievement, there will be many who will look at his role in bringing people to the cosmological fold as a fundamental part of his career. Hawking continues to inspire new generations of scientists with his work and this can only be good for science and the human race in general.