One of the world’s best-known scientists, Stephen Hawking, is to feature on a new commemorative fifty pence coin, Britain’s Royal Mint announced Tuesday.

The design of the new seven-sided coin has been inspired by Hawking’s pioneering work on black holes. It features a black hole represented by concentric circles, as well as his most famous equation which suggested that black holes were not completely black but emitted radiation, now known as Hawking radiation.


Hawking died last year at the age of 76. The physicist writes about black holes in his best selling book A Brief History of Time. Edwina Ellis, who designed the coin, said: “I wanted to fit a big black hole on the coin and wish he was still here chortling at the thought.”

Ellis said she wanted to reflect the way Hawking made difficult subjects accessible, engaging and relatable. Hawking’s daughter Lucy visited the Royal Mint with her brother Tim to see the coins. She said: “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 on to money.” Royal Mint director Nicola Howell said: “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.”

The coin will be available to buy from the Royal Mint later this month, with prices ranging from 10 pounds (13.42 U.S. dollars) for a brilliant uncirculated version of the coin to 795 pounds for a gold proof coin.


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