Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking redefined the way we think about space. Published over 30 years ago, his book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes made cosmology widely accessible for the first time. Hawking passed away last year at the age of 76, but in his home country of England, he's being remembered with a radical Black Hole-inspired 50p coin (the equivalent of 66 cents in American currency).
An extra special day at The Royal Mint. We are delighted to have welcomed Lucy and Tim Hawking who struck their very own coins to commemorate their father's outstanding contribution to science. See behind the scenes of their visit! https://t.co/67G6ZpPnEm @HawkingFound pic.twitter.com/d5FYwFCPOl
— The Royal Mint (@RoyalMintUK) March 12, 2019
The designer of the incredibly cool coin, Edwina Ellis, said that she focused on how Hawking's work made the dark depths of space so easy to understand. "Stephen Hawking made difficult subjects accessible, engaging and relatable and this is what I wanted to portray in my design," Ellis also told the BBC. "I wanted to fit a big black hole on the tiny coin and wish he was still here chortling at the thought.”
The design features concentric circles that appear to create a 3D design reminiscent of a Black Hole on the 2D surface of the coin, and it works to startling effect. The coin also includes an etching of one of Hawking's most famous equations: S=kAc^3/4hG, which is known as the Bekenstein–Hawking equation. It calculates "the amount of entropy that must be assigned to a black hole in order for it to comply with the laws of thermodynamics as they are interpreted by observers external to that black hole."
The coin won't be in general circulation but is available to buy on the Royal Mint website for $13!
Images: The Royal Mint