ICTP Colloquium - Geometrodynamics: The Nonlinear Dynamics of Curved Spacetime
Starts 24 May 2018 16:30
Ends 24 May 2018 18:00
Central European Time
ICTP, Trieste, Italy
Leonardo Building - Budinich Lecture Hall
Strada Costiera 11
Kip Thorne was born in 1940 in Logan, Utah, USA, and is currently the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). From 1967 to 2009, he led a Caltech research group working in relativistic astrophysics and gravitational physics, with emphasis on relativistic stars, black holes, and especially gravitational waves. Fifty three students received their PhD’s under his mentorship, and he mentored roughly sixty postdoctoral students. He co-authored the textbooks Gravitation (1973, with Charles Misner and John Archibald Wheeler) and Modern Classical Physics (2017, with Roger Blandford), and was sole author of Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy.
Thorne was cofounder (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. For his contributions to LIGO and to gravitational wave research, Thorne has shared the Nobel Prize in Physics, and other major awards.
In 2009 Thorne stepped down from his Caltech professorship to ramp up a new career at the interface between art and science, including the movie Interstellar (which sprang from a Treatment he co-authored, and for which he was Executive Producer and Science Advisor).
A half century ago, John Wheeler challenged his students and colleagues to explore geometrodynamics by asking, how does the curvature of spacetime behave when roiled in a storm, like a storm at sea with crashing waves? We tried to explore this, and failed. Success eluded us until two new tools became available: computer simulations, and gravitational wave observations. Thorne will describe what these have begun to teach us, and he will offer a vision for the future of geometrodynamics.