The Faculty salutes the news that Prof Sir Roger Penrose, a great friend of philosophy of physics at Oxford and a regular speaker at the Faculty’s Thursday philosophy of physics research seminar, was yesterday awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his work in the foundations of general relativity theory, and specifically in demonstrating that solutions to Einstein’s field equations containing trapped surfaces (and hence black holes) are generic, and not an artefact of solutions of high symmetry as in the Schwarzschild solution. His was half the prize; the other half went to Reinhard Genzel (Max Planck Institute and Berkeley) and Andrea Ghez (UCLA), who established the existence of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy. It was a cooperation of a mathematical/conceptual investigation with an empirical one yielding one of the most mysterious and fundamental objects known to science.
Roger is professor emeritus in the Mathematical Institute, and an emeritus fellow at Wadham College. We tread on the path that he has laid for us with awe!