Stephen William Hawking (1942–2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge at the time of his death. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.

His scientific works included a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Hawking achieved commercial success with several works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general. His book A Brief History of Time appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking was a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

In 1963, Hawking was diagnosed with an early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease that gradually paralysed him over the decades. Even after the loss of his speech, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generating device, initially through use of a hand-held switch, and eventually by using a single cheek muscle.


The fifth crowned portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II facing right, wearing the George IV State Diadem and drop earrings.

The George IV State Diadem, officially the Diamond Diadem, is a type of crown that was made in 1820 for King George IV. The diadem is worn by queens and queens consort in procession to coronations and State Openings of Parliament. The piece of jewellery has been featured in paintings and on stamps and currency. It can be seen in the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX means Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith.

Engraver: Jody Clark



Depicts a black hole below the scientist's name and Hawking’s equation of the entropy of a black hole.

The equation contains within it all of the most important parts of Professor Hawking’s most important discovery. It expresses neatly the idea that would come to define his work for the rest of his life: that black holes weren’t entirely black after all, and instead emitted a glow that would become known as Hawking radiation.

The s that the equation serves to calculate is entropy: a complicated but significant part of black holes, that can be understood as a measure of how much disorder is present in the system.

The rest gives the important numbers required to calculate that entropy. The ħ is the Planck constant, so important in quantum mechanics; the G is Newton’s constant, used to understand gravity; the A refers to the area of the event horizon; the c is the speed of light, made so famous by Einstein’s great formula; and the k is Boltzmann’s constant, which is a way of understanding how energy relates to temperature.

Design: Edwina Ellis

s = kc3 A / 4ħ G


50 Pence

5th portrait, Silver Proof Coin
Type Commemorative Issue (Non-circulating)
Material Silver
Fineness 0.925
Weight 8 g
Diameter 27.3 mm
Thickness -
Shape polygon
Sides 7
Alignment Medal
Royal Mint

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