Prof Sir Roger Penrose, OM, is the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He was educated at University College London and at Cambridge University, and before moving to Oxford, he was on the faculty of Birkbeck college in London.
For his work on the mathematical theory of black holes and singularities in General Relativity, Roger Penrose was awarded the 2020 Nobel prize in Physics. Penrose’s work in the 1960’s changed the very language used by physicists to discuss spacetime, at the same time revolutionizing the mathematical tools used for this purpose. Amongst other things, this work showed that black holes, far from being an unphysical artefact of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, were in fact a necessary consequence of it. Since that time, the observational evidence for black holes has inexorably accumulated, and we now know that the universe is populated with black holes having masses ranging from several solar masses to over 50 billion solar masses.
Penrose’s work has also ranged widely over many topics in mathematics, in the relationship between gravity and quantum mechanics, in cosmology, and in the nature of consciousness and mathematical creativity. He has argued consistently over the years that gravity should cause a breakdown of quantum mechanics for large mass objects.
He is well known to the general public for his popular books, which address various topics in physics, computation, and the mind, and for his artwork, notably Penrose tiling (an idea which he first developed as a student).