Royal Mint Honors Stephen Hawking With Black Hole on a 50p Coin

A year after his death Stephen Hawking will be honoured with a limited edition coin from the Royal Mint in London.
Jessica Miley

The Royal Mint in the United Kingdom is celebrating the life of Stephen Hawking by launching a limited edition coin featuring a black hole. It has been a year a year since the death of the highly influential physicist, who brought complex physics and math theory to the general public.


Hawking introduced the world to the secrets of the universe through a series of accessible books as well as years of valuable research that has expanded our knowledge of our world. Instead of featuring Hawking's portrait the coin's designer went for a more abstract and humorous approach.

Coin plays on Hawking's sense of humor

"I wanted to fit a big black hole on the tiny coin and wish he was still here chortling at the thought," engraver Edwina Ellis told the BBC. The fifty pence coin is available only as a limited edition collector's item and won’t enter circulation.

The design features a series of swirling lines representing the pull of the black hole. Above the hole is hawkings name and the formula S = kc^3 A / 4ℏG.

The formula will help you calculate the thermodynamic entropy of a Schwarzschild black hole of a given mass. It was developed by Hawking in collaboration with theoretical physicist Jacob Bekenstein, and its creation was a huge step forward to make the odd properties of black holes fit in with existing laws on energy.

Great scientist preserved despite physical challenges

The coin is a carefully considered memorial to a person that made so many contributions to science and humanity. Hawking was passionate about making the secrets of the universe accessible to everyone. Hawking suffered from the condition known as ALS that affects the patient's spinal cord.

As a result, Hawking spent most of his life in a wheelchair and used an advanced computer system to help him communicate. Hawking was born into a family of academics and even as a young child displayed a ferocity for knowledge. He completed education at both Oxford and Cambridge. While his legacy to science is unparalleled, it is Hawking's sense of humor that contributed to him becoming a household name.

Forever remembered in pop culture

Hawking appeared as a cartoon character of himself of countless TV shows including the Simpsons and Futurama. He was a guest on several major talk shows like The Conan O'Brien show and Last Week Tonight.

Hawking’s voice was also included in the song written by former Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May’s song Ultima Thule Mix, written to celebrate New Horizons NASA space probe journey. The Royal Mint says the coin's design is approved by Hawking's family.

His daughter Lucy told the BBC she was pleased with the outcome. 

"It is a great privilege to be featured on a coin and I hope my father would be pleased to be alongside Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin as scientists who have made it on to money,” she said.

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