London: Macmillan, 1974. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL WRAPS OF HAWKING’S MOST IMPORTANT PAPER, HERE PREDICTING THAT BLACK HOLES RELEASE BLACKBODY RADIATION NOW KNOWN AS HAWKING RADIATION. Hawking’s Royal Society obituary stated: “It is fair to say that Stephen’s discovery ranks as one of the most important results ever in fundamental physics” (Carr, et al. ‘Stephen William Hawking CH CBE. 8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018,’ Bibliographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 66, June 2019).
Running completely counter to prevailing ideas about black holes at the time, Hawking demonstrated that primordial black holes (those with very low mass) would evaporate and explode within a timescale shorter than the age of the Universe. If primordial black holes were formed in the early Universe, these explosions could, in principle, be detected observationally.
At its heart, Hawking’s theory is an area/entropy equation. It relates the entropy of a black hole (or, in essence, the amount of information one contains) to its proportional surface area. Hawking’s equation, his formula, was one of such profound import that he asked that it be engraved on his tombstone – and it is.
Hawking "predicted that black holes lose energy over time through emission of subatomic particles (via quantum tunnelling) with a thermal distribution of energies as if each black hole had a temperature inversely proportional to its mass" (Wenner Collection). Hawking "predicted that black holes were not completely black but were actually weakened emitters of blackbody radiation generated close to the event horizon -- the boundary where light is forever trapped by the black hole's gravitational pull. Hawking's insight was to realize how the presence of the horizon could separate virtual photon pairs (constantly being created from the quantum vacuum) such that while one was sucked in, the other could escape, causing the black hole to lose energy" (Wikipedia). "This 'evaporation' continues until a black hole exhausts most of its mass and eventually explodes” (Wenner).
After Hawking’s death, Harvard physicist Andrew Strominger stated that Hawking’s “equation stands alongside the Einstein equation and the Schrodinger equation as among the most important equations of 20th-century physics. However, unlike the other equations, which describe distinct areas of physics, [Hawking’s] area/information law unites disparate areas, as indicated by the striking appearance [in the equation] of nearly all the most basic constants of nature” (Page et al., ‘Stephen Hawking 1942-2018,’ Physics Today, 14 March 2018).
Hawking radiation made seemingly impossible things connect, but more than that, his work suggests a link between opposing worlds of physics: an unimagined relation between quantum theory, general relativity, and thermodynamics.
Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne wrote: “Few, if any, of Einstein’s successors have done more [than Hawking] to deepen our insights into gravity, space and time’, and Roger Penrose stated ‘We remember Newton for answers. We remember Hawking for questions. And Hawking’s questions themselves keep on giving, generating breakthroughs decades later. When ultimately we master the quantum gravity laws, and fully comprehend the birth of our universe, it will be by standing on the shoulders of Hawking’ (Carr). Item #1611
CONDITION: London: Macmillan. 4to. (11 x 8.25 inches; 275 x 206mm). Original wraps; very slight fading and wear (see image). Paper label with all but invisible stamp at head of contents page; no other markings whatsoever. The interior is pristine. Very good condition.