Kip Thorne

Kip Thorne

Overview
Kip Stephen Thorne is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 theoretical physicist
Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

, known for his prolific contributions in gravitation physics
Gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

 and astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 and for having trained a generation of scientists. A longtime friend and colleague of Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

 and Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

, he was the Feynman
Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

 Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 (Caltech) until 2009 and one of the world’s leading experts on the astrophysical implications of Einstein’s
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 general theory of relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

. He continues to do scientific research and is also writing a film.


Thorne was born in Logan, Utah
Logan, Utah
-Layout of the City:Logan's city grid originates from its Main and Center Street block, with Main Street running north and south, and Center east and west. Each block north, east, south, or west of the origin accumulates in additions of 100 , though some streets have non-numeric names...

, the son of Utah State University
Utah State University
Utah State University is a public university located in Logan, Utah. It is a land-grant and space-grant institution and is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities....

 professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

s D. Wynne Thorne and Alison C.
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Encyclopedia
Kip Stephen Thorne is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 theoretical physicist
Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

, known for his prolific contributions in gravitation physics
Gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

 and astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 and for having trained a generation of scientists. A longtime friend and colleague of Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

 and Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

, he was the Feynman
Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

 Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 (Caltech) until 2009 and one of the world’s leading experts on the astrophysical implications of Einstein’s
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 general theory of relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

. He continues to do scientific research and is also writing a film.

Biography



Thorne was born in Logan, Utah
Logan, Utah
-Layout of the City:Logan's city grid originates from its Main and Center Street block, with Main Street running north and south, and Center east and west. Each block north, east, south, or west of the origin accumulates in additions of 100 , though some streets have non-numeric names...

, the son of Utah State University
Utah State University
Utah State University is a public university located in Logan, Utah. It is a land-grant and space-grant institution and is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities....

 professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

s D. Wynne Thorne and Alison C. Thorne, a soil chemist
Soil chemistry
Soil chemistry is the study of the chemical characteristics of soil. Soil chemistry is affected by mineral composition, organic matter and environmental factors.-History:...

 and an economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

, respectively. Raised in an academic environment, two of his four siblings are also professors. He became interested in science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 at the age of eight, after attending a lecture about the solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

. Thorne and his mother then worked out calculations for their own model of the solar system.

Thorne rapidly excelled at academics early in life, becoming one of the youngest full professors in the history of the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

. He received his B.S. from Caltech in 1962, and Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 from Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 in 1965. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis
Thesis
A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings...

, Geometrodynamics
Geometrodynamics
In theoretical physics, geometrodynamics generally denotes a program of reformulation and unification which was enthusiastically promoted by John Archibald Wheeler in the 1960s.-Einstein's geometrodynamics:...

 of Cylindrical Systems
, under the supervision of relativist John Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler was an American theoretical physicist who was largely responsible for reviving interest in general relativity in the United States after World War II. Wheeler also worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission...

. Thorne returned to Caltech as an associate professor in 1967 and became a professor of theoretical physics in 1970, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in 1981, and the Feynman
Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

 Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1991. In June 2009 he resigned his Feynman Professorship (he is now the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus) to pursue a career of writing and movie making. His first film project will team him with Steven Spielberg.

Throughout the years, Thorne has served as a mentor and thesis advisor for many leading theorists who now work on observational, experimental, or astrophysical aspects of general relativity. Approximately 50 physicists have received Ph.D.s at Caltech under Thorne's personal mentorship.

Thorne is known for his ability to convey the excitement and significance of discoveries in gravitation and astrophysics to both professional and lay audiences. In 1999, Thorne made some speculations on what the 21st century will find as the answers to the following questions:
  • Is there a "dark side of the universe" populated by objects such as black holes?
  • Can we observe the birth of the universe and its dark side using radiation made from space-time warpage, or so-called "gravitational waves"?
  • Will 21st century technology reveal quantum behavior in the realm of human-size objects?


His presentations on subjects such as black hole
Black hole
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

s, gravitational radiation, relativity
Theory of relativity
The theory of relativity, or simply relativity, encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity. However, the word relativity is sometimes used in reference to Galilean invariance....

, time travel
Time travel
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

, and wormhole
Wormhole
In physics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that would be, fundamentally, a "shortcut" through spacetime. For a simple visual explanation of a wormhole, consider spacetime visualized as a two-dimensional surface. If this surface is folded along a third dimension, it...

s have been included in PBS shows in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom on the BBC.

Thorne and Linda Jean Peterson married in 1960. Their children are Kares Anne and Bret Carter, an architect. Thorne and Peterson divorced in 1977. Thorne and his second wife, Carolee Joyce Winstein, a professor of biokinesiology
Kinesiology
Kinesiology, also known as human kinetics is the scientific study of human movement. Kinesiology addresses physiological, mechanical, and psychological mechanisms. Applications of kinesiology to human health include: biomechanics and orthopedics, rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational...

 and physical therapy at USC
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

, married in 1984.

Research



Thorne's research has principally focused on relativistic
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

 astrophysics and gravitation physics
Gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

, with emphasis on relativistic
Relativistic particle
A relativistic particle is a particle which moves with a relativistic speed; that is, a speed comparable to the speed of light. This is achieved by photons to the extent that effects described by special relativity are able to describe those of such particles themselves...

 star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s, black hole
Black hole
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

s and especially gravitational waves. He is perhaps best known to the public for his controversial theory that wormhole
Wormhole
In physics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that would be, fundamentally, a "shortcut" through spacetime. For a simple visual explanation of a wormhole, consider spacetime visualized as a two-dimensional surface. If this surface is folded along a third dimension, it...

s can conceivably be used for time travel
Time travel
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

. However, Thorne's scientific contributions, which center on the general nature of space
Space
Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

, time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

, and gravity, span the full range of topics in general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

.

Gravitational waves and LIGO


Among a handful of physicists, Thorne is considered one of the world’s authorities on gravitational wave
Gravitational wave
In physics, gravitational waves are theoretical ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagates as a wave, traveling outward from the source. Predicted to exist by Albert Einstein in 1916 on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves theoretically transport energy as...

s. In part, his work has dealt with the prediction of gravity-wave strengths and their temporal signatures as observed on Earth. These “signatures” are of great relevance to LIGO
LIGO
LIGO, which stands for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is a large-scale physics experiment aiming to directly detect gravitational waves. Cofounded in 1992 by Kip Thorne and Ronald Drever of Caltech and Rainer Weiss of MIT, LIGO is a joint project between scientists at MIT,...

 (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory), a multi-institution gravity-wave experiment for which Thorne has been a leading proponent — in 1984, he cofounded the LIGO Project (the largest project ever funded by the NSF
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

) to discern and measure any fluctuations between two or more 'static' points; such fluctuations would be evidence of gravitational wave
Gravitational wave
In physics, gravitational waves are theoretical ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagates as a wave, traveling outward from the source. Predicted to exist by Albert Einstein in 1916 on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves theoretically transport energy as...

s, as calculations describe. A significant aspect of his research is developing the mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 necessary to analyze these objects.http://pass.maths.org.uk/issue18/features/thorne/index.html Thorne also carries out engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 design analyses for features of the LIGO that cannot be developed on the basis of experiment
Experiment
An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

 and he gives advice on data analysis
Data analysis
Analysis of data is a process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of highlighting useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision making...

 algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

s by which the waves will be sought. He has provided theoretical support for LIGO, including identifying gravitational wave sources that LIGO should target, designing the baffles to control scattered light
Scattering
Scattering is a general physical process where some forms of radiation, such as light, sound, or moving particles, are forced to deviate from a straight trajectory by one or more localized non-uniformities in the medium through which they pass. In conventional use, this also includes deviation of...

 in the LIGO beam tubes, and — in collaboration with Vladimir Braginsky's (Moscow Russia) research group — inventing quantum nondemolition designs for advanced gravity-wave
Gravitational wave
In physics, gravitational waves are theoretical ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagates as a wave, traveling outward from the source. Predicted to exist by Albert Einstein in 1916 on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves theoretically transport energy as...

 detectors and ways to reduce the most serious kind of noise
Noise
In common use, the word noise means any unwanted sound. In both analog and digital electronics, noise is random unwanted perturbation to a wanted signal; it is called noise as a generalisation of the acoustic noise heard when listening to a weak radio transmission with significant electrical noise...

 in advanced detectors: thermoelastic noise
Johnson–Nyquist noise
Johnson–Nyquist noise is the electronic noise generated by the thermal agitation of the charge carriers inside an electrical conductor at equilibrium, which happens regardless of any applied voltage...

. With Carlton M. Caves, Thorne invented the back-action-evasion approach to quantum nondemolition measurements of the quadrature amplitude
Quadrature amplitude modulation
Quadrature amplitude modulation is both an analog and a digital modulation scheme. It conveys two analog message signals, or two digital bit streams, by changing the amplitudes of two carrier waves, using the amplitude-shift keying digital modulation scheme or amplitude modulation analog...

s of harmonic oscillator
Harmonic oscillator
In classical mechanics, a harmonic oscillator is a system that, when displaced from its equilibrium position, experiences a restoring force, F, proportional to the displacement, x: \vec F = -k \vec x \, where k is a positive constant....

s — a technique applicable both in gravitational wave
Gravitational wave
In physics, gravitational waves are theoretical ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagates as a wave, traveling outward from the source. Predicted to exist by Albert Einstein in 1916 on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves theoretically transport energy as...

 detection and quantum optics
Quantum optics
Quantum optics is a field of research in physics, dealing with the application of quantum mechanics to phenomena involving light and its interactions with matter.- History of quantum optics :...

.

Black hole cosmology


Thorne has made prolific contributions to black hole cosmology
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

. Thorne proposed his Hoop Conjecture
Hoop Conjecture
The Hoop Conjecture, proposed by Kip Thorne in 1972, states that an imploding object forms a black hole when, and only when, a circular hoop with a specific critical circumference could be placed around the object and rotated...

 that cast aside the thought of a naked singularity
Naked singularity
In general relativity, a naked singularity is a gravitational singularity, without an event horizon. In a black hole, there is a region around the singularity, the event horizon, where the gravitational force of the singularity is strong enough so that light cannot escape. Hence, the singularity...

. The Hoop Conjecture describes an imploding star turning into a black hole when the critical circumference of the designed hoop can be placed around it and set into rotation. http://www.usd.edu/phys/courses/phys300/gallery/clark/thorne.html That is, any object of mass M around which a hoop of circumference can be spun must be a black hole. As a tool to be used in both enterprises, astrophysics and theoretical physics, Thorne has developed an unusual approach, called the "Membrane Paradigm
Membrane paradigm
In black hole theory, the black hole membrane paradigm is a useful "toy model" method or "engineering approach" for visualising and calculating the effects predicted by quantum mechanics for the exterior physics of black holes, without using quantum-mechanical principles or calculations...

", to the theory of black holes and used it to clarify the "Blandford-Znajek" mechanism by which black holes may power some quasar
Quasar
A quasi-stellar radio source is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than...

s and active galactic nuclei. Thorne has investigated the quantum
Quantum
In physics, a quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction. Behind this, one finds the fundamental notion that a physical property may be "quantized," referred to as "the hypothesis of quantization". This means that the magnitude can take on only certain discrete...

 statistical mechanical
Statistical mechanics
Statistical mechanics or statistical thermodynamicsThe terms statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics are used interchangeably...

 origin of the entropy
Entropy
Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when...

 of a black hole and the entropy of a cosmological horizon in an inflationary model
Cosmic inflation
In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation or just inflation is the theorized extremely rapid exponential expansion of the early universe by a factor of at least 1078 in volume, driven by a negative-pressure vacuum energy density. The inflationary epoch comprises the first part...

 of the universe. With Wojciech Zurek he showed that the entropy of a black hole of known mass
Mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

, angular momentum
Angular momentum
In physics, angular momentum, moment of momentum, or rotational momentum is a conserved vector quantity that can be used to describe the overall state of a physical system...

, and electric charge
Electric charge
Electric charge is a physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when near other electrically charged matter. Electric charge comes in two types, called positive and negative. Two positively charged substances, or objects, experience a mutual repulsive force, as do two...

 is the logarithm
Logarithm
The logarithm of a number is the exponent by which another fixed value, the base, has to be raised to produce that number. For example, the logarithm of 1000 to base 10 is 3, because 1000 is 10 to the power 3: More generally, if x = by, then y is the logarithm of x to base b, and is written...

 of the number of ways that the hole could have been made. With Igor Novikov
Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov
Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov is a Russian theoretical astrophysicist and cosmologist.Novikov formulated the Novikov self-consistency principle in the mid-1980s, an important contribution to the theory of time travel.Novikov gained his Ph.D. degree in astrophysics in 1965 and the Russian D.Sc....

 and Don Page he developed the general relativistic theory of thin accretion disks around black holes, and using this theory he deduced that with a doubling of its mass by such accretion
Accretion (astrophysics)
In astrophysics, the term accretion is used for at least two distinct processes.The first and most common is the growth of a massive object by gravitationally attracting more matter, typically gaseous matter in an accretion disc. Accretion discs are common around smaller stars or stellar remnants...

 a black hole will be spun up to 0.998 of the maximum spin
Spin (physics)
In quantum mechanics and particle physics, spin is a fundamental characteristic property of elementary particles, composite particles , and atomic nuclei.It is worth noting that the intrinsic property of subatomic particles called spin and discussed in this article, is related in some small ways,...

 allowed by general relativity, but never any farther; this is probably the maximum black-hole spin allowed in Nature. He, along with his mentor John Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler was an American theoretical physicist who was largely responsible for reviving interest in general relativity in the United States after World War II. Wheeler also worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission...

, additionally proved that it was impossible for cylindrical magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 lines to implode. Both Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

 and Thorne have theorized that a singularity
Gravitational singularity
A gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system...

 exists in the interior of a black hole.

Wormholes and time travel


Thorne was one of the first people to conduct scientific research on whether the laws of physics permit space and time to be multiply connected
Simply connected space
In topology, a topological space is called simply connected if it is path-connected and every path between two points can be continuously transformed, staying within the space, into any other path while preserving the two endpoints in question .If a space is not simply connected, it is convenient...

 (can there exist classical, traversable wormholes and "time machine
Time travel
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

s"?). With Sung-Won Kim, Thorne identified a universal physical mechanism (the explosive growth of vacuum polarization
Vacuum polarization
In quantum field theory, and specifically quantum electrodynamics, vacuum polarization describes a process in which a background electromagnetic field produces virtual electron–positron pairs that change the distribution of charges and currents that generated the original electromagnetic...

 of quantum fields), that may always prevent spacetime from developing closed timelike curve
Closed timelike curve
In mathematical physics, a closed timelike curve is a worldline in a Lorentzian manifold, of a material particle in spacetime that is "closed," returning to its starting point...

s (i.e., prevent "backward time travel"). With Mike Morris and Ulvi Yurtsever he showed that traversable Lorentzian wormholes can exist in the structure of spacetime
Spacetime
In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being three-dimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...

 only if they are threaded by quantum fields in quantum states that violate the averaged null energy condition (i.e. have negative renormalized energy spread over a sufficiently large region). This has triggered research to explore the ability of quantum fields to possess such extended negative energy
Negative energy
Negative energy is a concept used in energy , energy , and speculative fiction for a contrast with regular or positive energy.Negative energy may be used in:- Physics :* Particle physics** Exotic matter** Antiparticle...

. Recent calculations by Thorne indicate that simple masses passing through traversable wormholes could never engender paradox
Paradox
Similar to Circular reasoning, A paradox is a seemingly true statement or group of statements that lead to a contradiction or a situation which seems to defy logic or intuition...

es — there are no initial conditions that lead to paradox once time travel is introduced. If his results can be generalised, they would suggest that none of the supposed paradoxes formulated in time travel stories can actually be formulated at a precise physical level: that is, that any situation in a time travel story turns out to permit many consistent solutions.

Relativistic stars, multipoles, & other endeavors


With Anna Żytkow, Thorne predicted the existence of red supergiant star
Red giant
A red giant is a luminous giant star of low or intermediate mass in a late phase of stellar evolution. The outer atmosphere is inflated and tenuous, making the radius immense and the surface temperature low, somewhere from 5,000 K and lower...

s with neutron-star
Neutron star
A neutron star is a type of stellar remnant that can result from the gravitational collapse of a massive star during a Type II, Type Ib or Type Ic supernova event. Such stars are composed almost entirely of neutrons, which are subatomic particles without electrical charge and with a slightly larger...

 cores (Thorne-Żytkow object
Thorne-Zytkow object
A Thorne–Żytkow object or TŻO is a hypothetical type of star wherein a red giant or supergiant contains a neutron star at its core. Such objects were hypothesized by Kip Thorne and Anna Żytkow in 1977...

s). Most importantly, he laid the foundations for the theory of pulsation
Angular frequency
In physics, angular frequency ω is a scalar measure of rotation rate. Angular frequency is the magnitude of the vector quantity angular velocity...

s of relativistic stars and the gravitational radiation they emit. With James Hartle
James Hartle
James Burkett Hartle is an American physicist. He has been a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara since 1966, and he is currently a member of the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute...

, Thorne derived from general relativity the laws of motion and precession of black holes and other relativistic bodies, including the influence of the coupling of their multipole moments
Multipole moments
In mathematics, especially as applied to physics, multipole moments are the coefficients of a series expansion of a potential due to continuous or discrete sources . A multipole moment usually involves powers of the distance to the origin, as well as some angular dependence...

 to the spacetime curvature of nearby objects. Thorne has also theoretically predicted the existence of universally antigravitating "exotic matter
Exotic matter
In physics, exotic matter is a term which refers to matter which would somehow deviate from the norm and have "exotic" properties. There are several uses of the term....

" — the element needed to accelerate the expansion rate of the universe, keep traversable wormhole "Star Gates" open and keep timelike
Minkowski space
In physics and mathematics, Minkowski space or Minkowski spacetime is the mathematical setting in which Einstein's theory of special relativity is most conveniently formulated...

 geodesic
Geodesic
In mathematics, a geodesic is a generalization of the notion of a "straight line" to "curved spaces". In the presence of a Riemannian metric, geodesics are defined to be the shortest path between points in the space...

 free float "warp drive
Alcubierre drive
The Alcubierre drive, also known as the Alcubierre metric, is a speculative, but valid solution of the Einstein field equations. It is a mathematical model of a spacetime exhibiting features reminiscent of the fictional "warp drive" from Star Trek, which can travel "faster than light", although...

s" working. With Clifford Will and others of his students, he laid foundations for the theoretical interpretation of experimental tests of relativistic theories of gravity
Tests of general relativity
At its introduction in 1915, the general theory of relativity did not have a solid empirical foundation. It was known that it correctly accounted for the "anomalous" precession of the perihelion of Mercury and on philosophical grounds it was considered satisfying that it was able to unify Newton's...

 — foundations on which Will and others then built. Thorne is currently interested in the origin of classical space and time from the quantum foam
Quantum foam
Quantum foam, also referred to as spacetime foam, is a concept in quantum mechanics, devised by John Wheeler in 1955. The foam is supposed to be the foundations of the fabric of the universe. Additionally, it can be used as a qualitative description of subatomic spacetime turbulence at extremely...

 of quantum gravity
Quantum gravity
Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...

 theory.

Publications


Thorne has written and edited books on topics in gravitational theory
Gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

 and high-energy astrophysics
High-energy astronomy
High energy astronomy is the study of astronomical objects that release EM radiation of highly energetic wavelengths. It includes X-ray astronomy, gamma-ray astronomy, and extreme UV astronomy, as well as studies of neutrinos and cosmic rays...

. In 1973, he co-authored the classic textbook Gravitation
Gravitation (book)
In physics, Gravitation is a very important reference book on Einstein's theory of gravity by Charles W. Misner, Kip S. Thorne, and John Archibald Wheeler. Often considered the "Bible" of General Relativity by researchers for its prominence. It is frequently called MTW after its authors' initials....

with Charles Misner and John Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler was an American theoretical physicist who was largely responsible for reviving interest in general relativity in the United States after World War II. Wheeler also worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission...

; from which most of the present generation of scientists have learned general relativity theory. In 1994, he published Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy
Black Holes and Time Warps
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy is a popular science book by Kip Thorne. It provides an illustrated overview of the history and development of black hole theory up until the early 1990s....

, a landmark book for non-scientists for which he received numerous awards. This book has been published in six languages, and editions in Chinese, Italian, Czech, and Polish are in press.

Thorne's work has appeared in magazines and encyclopedias such as:
  • Scientific American
    Scientific American
    Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

    ,
  • McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology, and
  • Collier's Encyclopedia
    Collier's Encyclopedia
    P.F. Collier & Son Company published Collier's New Encyclopedia from 1902–1929, initially in 16 volumes and later in 10 volumes.Collier's 11 volume National Encyclopedia replaced Collier's New Encyclopedia....

    among many others.


Thorne has published more than 150 articles in scholarly journals.

Some references

  • Thorne, K. S., in 300 Years of Gravitation, (Eds.) S. W. Hawking and W. Israel, 1987, (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press), Gravitational Radiation.

  • Thorne, K. S., Price, R. H. and Macdonald, D. M., Black Holes, The Membrane Paradigm, 1986, (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press).

  • Friedman, J., Morris, M. S., Novikov, I. D., Echeverria, F., Klinkhammer, G., Thorne, K. S. and Yurtsever, U., Physical Review D., 1990, (in press), Cauchy Problem
    Cauchy problem
    A Cauchy problem in mathematics asks for the solution of a partial differential equation that satisfies certain conditions which are given on a hypersurface in the domain. Cauchy problems are an extension of initial value problems and are to be contrasted with boundary value problems...

     in Spacetime
    Spacetime
    In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being three-dimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...

    s with Closed Timelike Curve
    Closed timelike curve
    In mathematical physics, a closed timelike curve is a worldline in a Lorentzian manifold, of a material particle in spacetime that is "closed," returning to its starting point...

    s
    .

Honors and awards


Thorne has been elected to:
  • the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

    , (1972)
  • the National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

    ,
  • the Russian Academy of Sciences
    Russian Academy of Sciences
    The Russian Academy of Sciences consists of the national academy of Russia and a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation as well as auxiliary scientific and social units like libraries, publishers and hospitals....

    , and
  • the American Philosophical Society
    American Philosophical Society
    The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...

    .


He has been recognized by numerous awards including:
  • the American Institute of Physics
    American Institute of Physics
    The American Institute of Physics promotes science, the profession of physics, publishes physics journals, and produces publications for scientific and engineering societies. The AIP is made up of various member societies...

     Science Writing Award in Physics and Astronomy,
  • the Phi Beta Kappa
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    The Phi Beta Kappa Society is an academic honor society. Its mission is to "celebrate and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences"; and induct "the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at America’s leading colleges and universities." Founded at The College of William and...

     Science Writing Award,
  • the American Physical Society
    American Physical Society
    The American Physical Society is the world's second largest organization of physicists, behind the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. The Society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the world renowned Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than 20...

    's Lilienfeld Prize
    Lilienfeld Prize
    The Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, to remember Julius Edgar Lilienfeld, has been awarded annually, since 1989. . The purpose of the Prize is to recognize outstanding contributions to physics....

    ,
  • the German Astronomical Society's Karl Schwarzschild Medal
    Karl Schwarzschild Medal
    The Karl Schwarzschild Medal, named after the astrophysicist Karl Schwarzschild, is an award presented by the Astronomische Gesellschaft to eminent astronomers and astrophysicists.-Recipients:...

    ,
  • the Robinson Prize in Cosmology from the University of Newcastle
    University of Newcastle upon Tyne
    Newcastle University is a major research-intensive university located in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England. It was established as a School of Medicine and Surgery in 1834 and became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne by an Act of Parliament in August 1963. Newcastle University is...

    , England,
  • the Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society's Common Wealth Awards for Science and Invention, and
  • the California Science Center
    California Science Center
    The California Science Center is a state agency and museum located in Exposition Park, Los Angeles. Billed as the West Coast's largest hands-on science center, the California ScienCenter is a public-private partnership between the State and the California Science Center Foundation...

    's California Scientist of the Year Award (2003).


He has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Danforth Fellow, Guggenheim Fellow
Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...

, and Fulbright Fellow
Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the...

. He has also received the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters from Claremont Graduate University
Claremont Graduate University
Claremont Graduate University is a private, all-graduate research university located in Claremont, California, a city east of downtown Los Angeles...

.

He has been elected to hold Lorentz chair for the year 2009 Leiden University, the Netherlands
Leiden University
Leiden University , located in the city of Leiden, is the oldest university in the Netherlands. The university was founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange, leader of the Dutch Revolt in the Eighty Years' War. The royal Dutch House of Orange-Nassau and Leiden University still have a close...

.

Thorne has served on:
  • the International Committee on General Relativity and Gravitation,
  • the Committee on US-USSR Cooperation in Physics, and
  • the National Academy of Sciences' Space Science Board, which has advised NASA
    NASA
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

     and Congress on space science policy.

Films


Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 once asked Thorne to examine the time travel section of the manuscript for Contact
Contact (novel)
Contact is a science fiction novel written by Carl Sagan and published in 1985. It deals with the theme of contact between humanity and a more technologically advanced, extraterrestrial life form. It ranked No. 7 on the 1985 U.S. bestseller list....

. Thorne immediately dismissed Sagan's hypothesis; however, he later had an epiphany — wormholes may be used as time machines. His subsequent work, Wormholes, Time Machines and the Weak Energy Condition
Energy condition
In relativistic classical field theories of gravitation, particularly general relativity, an energy condition is one of various alternative conditions which can be applied to the matter content of the theory, when it is either not possible or desirable to specify this content explicitly...

, along with other papers, has made him popular with science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 fans. He did not care that it was highly speculative work, and he put as much energy into it as he did other subjects.

In June 2006, Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

 announced he would direct a scientifically accurate
Hard science fiction
Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific or technical detail, or on scientific accuracy, or on both. The term was first used in print in 1957 by P. Schuyler Miller in a review of John W. Campbell, Jr.'s Islands of Space in Astounding Science...

 film about "a group of explorers who travel through a worm hole and into another dimension", from a treatment by Kip Thorne and producer Lynda Obst
Lynda Obst
Lynda Rosen Obst is a feature film producer. She was born in New York and is a graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, CA. She worked as an editor at The New York Times before moving to Los Angeles with her then-husband David Obst...

. In January 2007, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan
Jonathan Nolan
Jonathan "Jonah" Nolan is a British-American author and screenwriter. His short story "Memento Mori" was used by his brother, director Christopher Nolan, as the basis for the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film Memento. He has also co-written the screenplays for The Prestige and The Dark...

 met with the studio to discuss adapting Obst and Thorne's treatment into a narrative screenplay. The screenwriter suggested the addition of a "time element" to the treatment's basic idea, which was welcomed by Obst and Thorne. In March, Paramount hired Nolan as well as scientists from Caltech, forming a workshop who will begin adapting the treatment after completing the script for Warner Bros.' The Chicago Fire. The following July, Kip Thorne said there was a push by people for him to portray himself in the film Interstellar.

See also

  • Hoop Conjecture
    Hoop Conjecture
    The Hoop Conjecture, proposed by Kip Thorne in 1972, states that an imploding object forms a black hole when, and only when, a circular hoop with a specific critical circumference could be placed around the object and rotated...

  • Membrane Paradigm
    Membrane paradigm
    In black hole theory, the black hole membrane paradigm is a useful "toy model" method or "engineering approach" for visualising and calculating the effects predicted by quantum mechanics for the exterior physics of black holes, without using quantum-mechanical principles or calculations...

  • LIGO
    LIGO
    LIGO, which stands for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is a large-scale physics experiment aiming to directly detect gravitational waves. Cofounded in 1992 by Kip Thorne and Ronald Drever of Caltech and Rainer Weiss of MIT, LIGO is a joint project between scientists at MIT,...

  • Time travel
    Time travel
    Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

  • Thorne-Zytkow object
    Thorne-Zytkow object
    A Thorne–Żytkow object or TŻO is a hypothetical type of star wherein a red giant or supergiant contains a neutron star at its core. Such objects were hypothesized by Kip Thorne and Anna Żytkow in 1977...

  • Thorne-Hawking-Preskill bet
    Thorne-Hawking-Preskill bet
    The Thorne–Hawking–Preskill bet refers to a public bet on the outcome of the black hole information paradox made in 1997 by physics theorists Kip Thorne, Stephen Hawking and John Preskill....

  • Stephen Hawking
    Stephen Hawking
    Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

  • John Wheeler
    John Archibald Wheeler
    John Archibald Wheeler was an American theoretical physicist who was largely responsible for reviving interest in general relativity in the United States after World War II. Wheeler also worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission...


External links