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Showing singularities really exist

places where the laws of physics do not apply East Anglia,

View of a computer terminal that fills a whole room. On the terminal are buttons and dials and a plaque reading ‘LEO’.
Draft of original Hawking-Penrose paper. Courtesy of Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking (born 1942) and Roger Penrose (born 1931) from the University of Cambridge worked together on the structure of space and time. They showed that the universe contains points where the known laws of physics do not apply. These are known as singularities. 

If the theory of general relativity were correct, they showed, then such singularities must occur inside black holes - and, most probably, at the start of the universe. This idea implies that singularities mark the beginning and end of space and time, which was created during the Big Bang and breaks down within black holes. 

The obvious next step for Hawking was to combine general relativity, the theory of the very large, with quantum theory, the theory of the very small, and this paved the way to his ideas about what we now call Hawking radiation. 

Science Museum

Mathematics, Physics,
East Anglia
University of Cambridge
Key Individuals
Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking,