Stephen Hawking to be celebrated on new 50p coin

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12 March 2019
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The Royal Mint has announced that the life of one of the world’s most well-known physicists, the late Professor Stephen Hawking, is celebrated on a 50p coin.

Professor Hawking has been honoured on a 50p piece that features a design influenced by his pioneering work on black holes.  

The commemorative coin will be available in Gold proof, Silver proof, Silver proof piedfort and Brilliant Uncirculated and will be available to purchase from the Royal Mint website, with prices starting from £10.

The Stephen Hawking 50p coin is the first in an new series celebrating innovation in British Science but, as The Royal Mint points out, the coin is ‘only available as a commemorative edition – it won’t appear in your change’.

Tim and Lucy Hawking, son and daughter of Stephen Hawking visited The Royal Mint to strike the new coin of the series.

Hawking’s work, which used a tentative unification of Einstein’s theory of general relativity with quantum mechanics, reported that black holes should not be completely black, instead emitting radiation, meaning they evaporate and eventually disappear. Termed ‘Hawking Radiation’, this was an unexpected but highly influential development. The fact that something can come out of black holes means that they are not truly black, as people thought. In fact, over enough time this ‘Hawking radiation’ means that a black hole will evaporate and disappear.

Hawking’s discovery led physicists to the unavoidable conclusion that information is lost as a black hole forms and subsequently evaporates. This is the black hole information paradox, one of the greatest unsolved problems in theoretical physics. These theories and phenomena are explained in his most famous work, A Brief History of Time

As he said in his own words in an interview for the BBC:

“I think my greatest achievement will be my discovery that black holes are not entirely black.”

Stephen Hawking is one of an elite group of scientists to have been honoured on UK coinage, alongside the likes of Sir Isaac Newton in 2017 and Charles Darwin in 2009. In recent years Hawking has been the subject of biopic and has had a recording of his voice beamed into a black hole.

Lucy Hawking commented:

“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 onto money!”

Nicola Howell, Director of Consumer at The Royal Mint commented:

“We are very pleased to honour Stephen Hawking on his own coin. As one of the world’s most brilliant physicists he was a great ambassador for science. His popularisation of science and breakthrough work on black holes stand as great achievements and significant contributions to humanity.”

Edwina Ellis, who designed the coin added:

“Stephen Hawking made difficult subjects accessible, engaging and relatable and this is what I wanted to portray in my design, which is inspired by a lecture he gave in Chile in 2008. Hawking, at his playful best, invites the audience to contemplate peering into a black hole before diving in. I wanted to fit a big black hole on the tiny coin and wish he was still here chortling at the thought.”

Coin details

The commemorative coins will be available in Gold proof, Silver proof, Silver proof piedfort and Brilliant Uncirculated and will be available to purchase from the Royal Mint website, with prices starting from £10. The Stephen Hawking 50p coin is the first in an new series celebrating innovation in British Science.

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Celebrating the Life of Stephen Hawking 2019 UK 50p

 

Coin title

Celebrating the Life of Stephen Hawking 2019 UK 50p Gold Proof Coin

 

Celebrating the Life of Stephen Hawking 2019 UK 50p Silver Proof Piedfort Coin

 

Celebrating the Life of Stephen Hawking 2019 UK 50p Silver Proof Coin

 

Celebrating the Life of Stephen Hawking 2019 UK 50p Brilliant Uncirculated Coin

 

Denomination

50p

50p

50p

50p

Issuing Authority

UK

UK

UK

UK

Alloy

916.7 Au - Red

925 Ag Sterling Silver

925 Ag Sterling Silver

Cupro-Nickel

Weight

15.50g

16.00g

8.00g

8.00g

Diameter

27.30mm

27.30mm

27.30mm

27.30mm

Obverse Designer

Jody Clark

Reverse Designer

Edwina Ellis

Quality

Proof

Brilliant Uncirculated

Limited Edition Presentation

400

2,500

5,500

Unlimited

RRP

£795.00

£95.00

£55.00

£10.00