American theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman, had once said: "Mathematicians are only dealing with the structure of the reasoning and they do not really care about what they're talking. The physicist, on the other hand, has meaning to all the phrases."

Sir Roger Penrose agrees.

In his 1997 book, The Large, the Small and the Human Mind, Penrose wrote: "Well, why am I talking about things when I do not know what they really mean? It is probably because I am a mathematician and mathematicians do not mind so much about this, so long as those things can say something about the connections between them."

Cut to 2020, Penrose is the winner of Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity. He shares it with Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.

"I was good at maths, yes, but I didn't necessarily do very well in my tests. But the teacher realized if he gave me enough time, I would do well," the laureate recalled.

While he had been working proactively to unravel the mysteries of the universe since the 50s, Roger Penrose came to a much wider public attention after publishing of A Brief History of Time in 1988.

Penrose and Hawking go way back. They both were the winners of Wolf Prize in 1988 for Penrose-Hawking singularity theorems (1965). Their friendship and collaboration were captured even in the movies: Hawking (2004) and Theory of Everything (2014).

See also: Best Physics Movies

Sir Penrose was most heavily inspired by his father, Lionel Penrose, who was a psychiatrist and a geneticist. In fact, brilliance runs down their family: his grandfather was a renowned Irish artist, one of his brothers is a physicist himself and the other is a Chess grandmaster, his sister, a geneticist, has followed in her father's footsteps!

Since Penrose was purely a mathematician, his work was really abstract in that sense. But he was drawn to astrophysics by Dennis Sciama (who also was a doctoral advisor to Stephen Hawking).

And that is how they first met.

They proposed two types of singularities: space-like for non-rotating black holes and time-like for rotating black holes.

It was thought that in the eventual collapse of a star (to form a black hole), if the star is spinning and so possesses even some angular momentum, maybe the centrifugal force could counteract gravity and keep the singularity from forming.

Penrose-Hawking theorems showed that that cannot happen, and that a singularity will always form once an event horizon forms. In other words, Penrose proved with complicated maths that Black holes were not impossible and in fact a result of relativity.

Hence, in 2020, we celebrate Sir Roger Penrose's contributions to physics, his incredible writings on human consciousness and his life in general.

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