Stephen Hawking’s most mind-blowing discovery: black holes can shrink

Hawking radiation, explained by a physicist.

Stephen Hawking, who died Wednesday, was a hugely inspirational and influential scientist. Despite living most of his life with a serious neurodegenerative disease, ALS, that left him paralyzed, Hawking achieved a rare fame in both scientific circles and the popular imagination.

Shortly after hearing the news of his death, I emailed a number of prominent physicists and astronomers to ask, “What, in your mind, is Hawking’s greatest legacy?”

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