May 22, 2019 | Updated: 08:18 AM EDT

Royal Mint Releases 50 Pence Stephen Hawking Commemorative Coin

Mar 14, 2019 08:13 AM EDT

Stephen Hawking
(Photo : Intel Free Press)

Theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, and research director for the University of Cambridge's Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, Stephen Hawking, has spent most of his life dedicated to his studies until he passed away on March 14, 2018. For the first year of his death anniversary, the Royal Mint has released a new commemorative 50 pence coin in his honor.

Coin engraver Edwina Ellis found it fitting to use the concept of having a big black hole fit into a tiny coin. This concept showcases the work and contribution of the brilliant theoretical physicist to science. As the work of Hawking involved many studies on black holes, the seven-sided coin is engraved with lines forming a black hole, the cosmologist's name, and the formula S = kc^3 A / 4ℏG. The concept is also a constant reminder of Hawking's great sense of humor as the engraver would imagine the scientist chuckling in the notion of having something so massive as the black hole rammed into a coin that could be tossed in the pocket or be traded with a cup of coffee.

Also known as the Bekenstein-Hawking formula, the formula for thermodynamic entropy of a Schwarzschild black hole of a given mass engraved above the physicist's name is an honor Hawking shared with theoretical physicist Jacob Bekenstein. The two have derived the formula in their effort to get the black hole to fit with existing energy laws. The formula links the amount of disorder contained by a black hole with its own area, a physical feature of the hole itself. This means the area of the black hole will expand its surface if more material is added to it. This also denotes how black holes can be made less black.

The coin design was approved by Hawking's daughter, Lucy. In her statement, the physicist's daughter hoped that her father would be pleased to be celebrated through a commemorative coin. Other scientist featured on UK coinage were Sir Isaac Newton in 2017 and Charles Darwin in 2009. The British Royal Mint released three variants of the coin: silver, gold, and a double-thick silver one called a piedfort, all of which are no longer available. The release of the last variant, called the Brilliant uncirculated coin, is still to be released and will soon be available on their website. The coins are considered collectors' items and will not be circulated as currency. Royal Mint also warns of the dangers of buying these coins from unauthorized dealers as forgery might be at play.

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