Tuesday August 09, 2016

Illuminating Black Holes - Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking ( Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

Black holes are collapsed stars that challenge the very nature of space and time, and they've been the life-work of the iconic cosmologist Stephen Hawking.  In two BBC Reith Lectures, Professor Hawking asks "Do black holes have no hair?" and explores why "black holes ain't as black as they are painted."

"It is said that fact is sometimes stranger than fiction, and nowhere is that more true than in the case of black holes. Black holes are stranger than anything dreamed up by science fiction writers, but they are firmly matters of science fact."

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking is the most iconic scientist in the the world today.  He is universally recognized, both for coping with a debilitating illness, and for his life-long pursuit of a single theory that would describe the entire universe – starting with understanding black holes.

So maybe it's little surprise then that when the BBC announced that Professor Hawking was going to deliver their prestigious Reith Lectures, about black holes, they got over 20,000 requests for tickets -- in a lecture hall that can hold only 400. 

The BBC Reith Lectures website has some wonderful information and videos about Stephen Hawking and his life, and his work on black holes – and beyond.  The movie about his life was called The Theory of Everything, and that's what he's really working on.  Black holes are just a way of understanding the whole universe.

**Please note: this episode is not available as a podcast.

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