The official announcement won’t come until tomorrow, but The New York Times is reporting that Stephen Hawking will receive a “special” $3M Prize from Yuri Milner’s Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation.
This is fantastic news! I assume the Prize recognizes Stephen’s great discovery that black holes radiate, one of the most transformative developments in theoretical physics during my lifetime. That’s just one of Stephen’s many important contributions. And of course his supreme skill as a popularizer and the unparalleled courage he displays in response to his disability have made him the most famous living scientist in the world. Congratulations, Stephen!
Stephen has a long-standing relationship with Caltech. He spent a sabbatical year here during 1974-75, when he wrote his famous paper formulating the black hole information paradox, and he has made more or less annual extended visits to Caltech since the 1990s. Stephen and I had many memorable discussions about black holes over the years, culminating when he conceded a bet, for which I received far more attention than I deserved. I’ve been proud to be Stephen’s friend for the past 30 years, and we’ve shared a lot of laughter.