Kolkata Physicist Who Inspired 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics

Kolkata is in a rare glow as the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded half the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2020 to Sir Roger Penrose, Professor Emeritus of the Institute of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, UK, and honorary fellow and alumnus from St John’s. College Cambridge for the discovery that “the formation of black holes is a strong prediction of the general theory of relativity.” He shares the award with Reinhard Genzel from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany and the University of California, Berkeley, USA, and Andrea Ghez, University of California, Los Angeles, USA for the “discovery of a supermassive compact object in the center of our galaxy. “Half of the prize money, 10 million SEK, will go to the British mathematical physicist.

Penrose in 1965 showed that the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes, but his research path was facilitated by a young physics professor at Ashutosh College of the University of Calcutta in 1955. It was Amalkumar Raychaudhuri, whose article , known as the ‘Raychaudhuri Equation’ developed the mathematical formulation that helped Penrose show that black holes can actually form.