2017 Ta-You Wu Lecture in Physics
Kip S. Thorne, Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus (Caltech)
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Rackham Graduate School – Main Auditorium
Exploring the Universe with Gravitational Waves:
From the Big Bang to Black Holes
There are two forms of waves that can propagate across the universe: Electromagnetic waves and gravitational waves. Galileo initiated electromagnetic astronomy 400 years ago by pointing a telescope at the sky and discovering the moons of Jupiter. LIGO recently initiated gravitational astronomy by observing gravitational waves from colliding black holes. Professor Thorne will describe this discovery, the 50 year effort that led to it, and the rich explorations that lie ahead.
Biographical Sketch for Professor Kip S. Thorne
Kip S. Thorne is the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He received his B.S. from Caltech in 1962 and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1965, then returned to Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow (1966), an associate professor (1967), a full professor (1970), and the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics (1991). Professor Thorne's research has focused on Einstein's general theory of relativity and on astrophysics, with emphasis on relativistic stars, black holes and especially gravitational waves. He was co-founder (with Rainer Weiss and Ronald Drever) of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) Project. LIGO - in the hands of a younger generation of physicists - made the breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves arriving at Earth from the distant universe on September 14, 2015. Professor Thorne was also co-founder (with Saul Teukolsky) of the SXS (Simulations of eXtreme Spacetimes) Project, which provided numerical simulations of colliding black holes to underpin the data analysis for LIGO’s discovery.
In 2009 Professor Thorne stepped down from his Caltech professorship to ramp up a new career at the interface between art and science. This has included the movie Interstellar (which sprang from a treatment he co-authored, and for which he was Executive Producer); and also multimedia performances with composer Hans Zimmer and visual effects guru Paul Franklin, and a forthcoming book of his poetry and of paintings by Lia Halloran.