Born on 8 August 1931 in Colchester, Essex, UK, Roger Penrose is a mathematical physicist and one of the pioneers of black hole theory. He earned his PhD in algebraic geometry from Cambridge University in 1957. After holding posts at several universities in the UK and the US, Penrose joined Birkbeck College, London, in 1964. In 1973 he became Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, a position he held until his retirement as Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor in 1998. By the late 1950s Penrose had started publishing a series of important papers on cosmology and pure mathematics, and by the mid 1960s he was focusing on black holes. In 1965 Penrose demonstrated that the gravitational collapse of a large dying star can result in a singularity; he would go on to propose that every black hole has a singularity at its center. He also introduced the Penrose diagram, a pictorial map of the region of spacetime around a black hole. Penrose collaborated with Stephen Hawking on cosmology and general relativity research, and the pair published *The Nature of Space and Time* (1996), in which they debate physics and the philosophy of physics. Penrose also continued to study pure mathematics and physics, and in 1974 developed Penrose tiling, a system of tiling that places simple two-dimensional symmetrical shapes, such as diamonds, to create an infinite plane of nonrepeating patterns. In addition to his research, Penrose published a number of influential books, including *The Emperor’s New Mind* (1989), for which he was awarded the Rhône-Poulenc Prize for Science Books, and *Shadows of the Mind *(1994). For his achievements, Penrose has received many honors. In 1972 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and in 1998 he became a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. Of the awards he has received are the 1988 Wolf Prize in Physics, the 2000 British Order of Merit, the London Mathematical Society’s 2004 De Morgan Medal, and the Royal Society’s 2008 Copley Medal. In 1994 he was knighted for his scientific accomplishments. (Photo credit: ITU/D.Procofieff, CC BY 2.0)

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# Roger Penrose

8 August 2018

The mathematical physicist helped develop the modern view of spacetime and black holes.

DOI:https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.6.6.20180808a

Content License:FreeView

EISSN:1945-0699

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© 2018 American Institute of Physics

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