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 provided the scientific vision for Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar, and served as its science advisor and executive producer. He also introduced wormholes into modern science fiction and movies through his work on Carl Sagan’s novel and film Contact. He is the author of the bestselling book Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy. To accompany Nolan’s film, he has written The Science of Interstellar, which reveals that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science.
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.