Former IRC speaker Sir Roger Penrose wins the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics

Andrew Pinsent 16 days ago

The IRC is delighted to announce that one of its former speakers, Sir Roger Penrose, has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on 6 October 2020 that Sir Roger has been awarded half of the total prize "for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity," regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein. The other half of the prize has been shared jointly by Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy." The only known explanation for such an object, in the region called Sagittarius A*, is a black hole, as predicted by the work of Sir Roger. 

Although the black hole at Sagittarius A* cannot be seen directly, the European Southern Observatory has reconstructed the orbits of stars around this mass. At their closest approach, the closest known stars to the supermassive black hole orbit it at nearly 8% of the speed of light:

Sir Roger Penrose spoke at the Ian Ramsey Centre seminar series in 2014-2015 on the topic, “Consciousness and the Foundations of Physics.” The event was chaired by Ralph Weir, Alister McGrath and Mikolaj Slawkowski-Rode. This event can be viewed here (

The picture of Sir Roger is by Cirone-Musi, Festival della Scienza, CC BY-SA 2.0,