Theoretical Physicist and Author of The Science of Interstellar
In his decades-long career, Kip Thorne personally trained many of today's world leaders in research on black holes and other relativistic phenomena. Thorne is co-founder of the billion-dollar LIGO project, which stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. In September 2015, LIGO helped open a radically new window onto the universe, based on the discovery of ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves—part of Einstein’s theory of relativity. For this discovery, he and his collaborators were awarded the $3 million dollar Breathrough Prize for Fundamental Physics, the $500,000 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, the $1.2 million Shaw Prize in Astronomy, and the $1 million Kavli Prize in astrophysics.
Thorne and his students also invented quantum nondemolition technology to control the quantum behavior of human-sized objects, and they pioneered the modern theory of wormholes and time travel.
Thorne was elected to both the US National Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences, and for his science accomplishments, he has been awarded the Swiss Albert Einstein Medal and the UNESCO Niels Bohr Gold Medal. He is the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus at Caltech.
The Science of Interstellar
Christopher Nolan's blockbuster movie Interstellar is filled with real science, thanks in large measure to executive producer Kip Thorne. In this talk, based on his bestselling book The Science of Interstellar, Thorne describes the science that underpins the movie. He gives his scientist's interpretation of the many weird and wonderful things seen on the screen and embedded in the story, and he uses the movie as a springboard for explaining the physical laws that govern the universe. Interstellar has the most remarkable, and perhaps puzzling, climax seen in any science fiction film since Kubrick's 2001, A Space Odyssey. Thorne will explain the climax and use it to elucidate some deep scientific concepts that serve as a springboard for deeper discussions.
A Scientist in Hollywood
Over the past three decades, Kip Thorne has had an enormous impact on Hollywood science fiction—and Hollywood, in turn, has triggered some of Thorne's deepest scientific insights. It all began in 1980 when Carl Sagan introduced Thorne to Hollywood movie producer Lynda Obst, setting in motion a powerfully creative collaboration. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Thorne advised Sagan and Obst on Contact, the novel and the movie. Through his advice, he introduced wormholes into modern science fiction and film. In turn, his conversations with Sagan catalyzed Thorne's breakthrough scientific research on wormholes and time travel. In 2006, Thorne's conversations with Obst produced the seed that grew into Christopher Nolan's blockbuster movie Interstellar. Over the subsequent seven years, Thorne’s conversations with Christopher and Jonathan Nolan were key to integrating real science into the fabric of Interstellar. And from Thorne's close collaboration with the Interstellar Visual Effects team—led by Oscar winner Paul Franklin—he and the whole world learned what a wormhole, and a gigantic fast-spinning black hole, would really look like, up close. In this delightful evening, Thorne describes the joys, frustrations, and Eureka moments of these collaborations with brilliant, creative artists.
The Warped Side of the Universe: From the Big Bang to Black Holes
There is a Warped Side to our Universe: objects and phenomena that are made from warped space and warped time instead of from matter. Examples are black holes, the big bang that gave birth to our Universe, and ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves. In this talk, Kip Thorne will describe surprising, recent predictions about what happens on the warped side of our universe, and will discuss plans and expectations for testing those predictions, in 2015-2019, by observing gravitational waves and extracting the information they carry. This is a fascinating but accessible look at the cutting edge science that will change how you view our universe, and your place within it.
The Science of Interstellar
A journey through the otherworldly science behind Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film, Interstellar, from executive producer and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne.
Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights—many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar—describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy
Ever since Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity burst upon the world in 1915 some of the most brilliant minds of our century have sought to decipher the mysteries bequeathed by that theory, a legacy so unthinkable in some respects that even Einstein himself rejected them.
Which of these bizarre phenomena, if any, can really exist in our universe? Black holes, down which anything can fall but from which nothing can return; wormholes, short spacewarps connecting regions of the cosmos; singularities, where space and time are so violently warped that time ceases to exist and space becomes a kind of foam; gravitational waves, which carry symphonic accounts of collisions of black holes billions of years ago; and time machines, for traveling backward and forward in time.
Kip Thorne, along with fellow theorists Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, a cadre of Russians, and earlier scientists such as Oppenheimer, Wheeler and Chandrasekhar, has been in the thick of the quest to secure answers. In this masterfully written and brilliantly informed work of scientific history and explanation, Dr. Thorne, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech, leads his readers through an elegant, always human, tapestry of interlocking themes, coming finally to a uniquely informed answer to the great question: what principles control our universe and why do physicists think they know the things they think they know? Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time has been one of the greatest best-sellers in publishing history. Anyone who struggled with that book will find here a more slowly paced but equally mind-stretching experience, with the added fascination of a rich historical and human component.
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