Geoff Penington

University of California, Berkeley

2021 New Horizons in Physics Prize

For calculating the quantum information content of a black hole and its radiation.


It is an enormous privilege to be able to spend my time trying to figure out a tiny bit more about the fundamental laws of nature. Most of the time that task feels completely impossible; I am constantly in awe of the brilliant insights of all the many, many people that got us to this point. Theoretical physics is really a community effort. I am personally incredibly indebted to my advisor Patrick Hayden, as well as Lenny Susskind, Steve Shenker, Douglas Stanford and many others for all their guidance and mentorship, and to all my collaborators, both for their ideas and their company. I would also like to thank my family, my friends and my partner Mae, who have provided me endless encouragement and support. When I first showed up as a graduate student at Stanford, Patrick told me that he had a cool project for me, but that no one would care about it. Three years later, that project led, more or less directly, to my work on black holes. I will interpret this prize as a recognition of his skill as a PhD advisor.

Geoff Penington