The American theoretical physicist Kip Stephen Thorn is very well-known for his many contributions to the study of astrophysics and gravitational physics. He is also well-known for having a hand in training a new generation of scientists. Kip S. Thorne was the Feynman Professor who taught Theoretical Physics at Caltech (California Institute of Technology) until the year 2009 and he is considered one of the foremost authorities on Einstein’s theory of relativity. As if all that isn’t impressive enough, he is also a close friend and a colleague of Carl Sagan and the brilliant Stephen Hawking who is lauded for his achievements despite his ALS.
The Early Life of Kip S. Thorne
Kip S. Thorne was born on June 1, 1940 in Logan, Utah. It is no wonder where he got his brains and his interest in science from seeing as his parents were both professors at the Utah State University. His father was D. Wynne Thorne who was a soil chemist and his mother was Alison C. Thorne who was an economist. He was brought up in a very academic-centered environment and two of his four siblings also went on to become professors. He was eight years old when he first started showing an interest in science. There was a time he attended a lecture about the solar system and after, he and his mother went to work on calculations to make their own solar system model. Being raised in such an environment, it is no wonder that he excelled in academics even during his early years and this is why he got the distinction of being one of the youngest ever professors to teach at Caltech.
His Educational Background
Thorne went to school in Caltech where he graduated with a B.S. in 1962. In 1963, he graduated from Princeton with a Ph.D. where he wrote his thesis on Geometrodynamics of Cylindrical System which he completed with guidance and supervision from John Wheeler who is himself a relativist.
It was after he got his Ph.D. that he returned to Caltech where he was given the position of associate professor. This was in 1967 and he was given the title of professor of Theoretical physics a couple of years after in 1970. His achievements at Caltech didn’t stop there because in 1981, he became a William R. Kenan Jr. Professor and 10 years later, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Science (he is currently known as the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus).
In the year 2009, he resigned from his prestigious position at Caltech to pursue a career in Hollywood where he hoped to make a career out of writing and making movies for the big screen. As it happens, his first ever film project will have him teaming up with no other than Christopher Nolan who is most known for his work as director of the Dark Knight movies.
His Academic Career
In the years of his involvement with the academe, Kip S. Thorne made for an excellent mentor and advisor for many young, bright minds many of whom are now known for their works as leading theorists. His students are now making huge impacts in many scientific fields. In fact, no less than 50 students have received their Ph.D.’s in Caltech under his guidance.
Some people may have beef with science since they believe it is somewhat boring but this is where Kip S. Thorne comes in to change all that since he is quite famous for his incomparable ability to inject excitement and really impress upon people the significance of any and all discoveries made in the field of astrophysics and gravitation. In fact, his enthusiasm is so infectious and his talent as a lecturer so profound that he is able to relay information in such a way that is interesting to people in the academic field and laymen alike.
Much of Thorne’s research has been focused on gravitation physics and relativistic astrophysics in general and he placed special focus on gravity, space, and time. However, he really is quite best-known for his theory that wormholes found in space can be used for time travel. This idea is quite controversial but has captured the imaginations of people nevertheless.
On LIGO and Gravitational Waves
Thorne is considered one of the foremost authorities on gravitational waves and considering there are only a handful of physicists that even study the subject. His work on gravitational waves has dealt mostly in gravity-waves and how their temporal signatures and gravity-wave strengths may be observed on the planet Earth.
Black hole cosmology
He has made a lot of contributions to the study of black holes and has even proposed the Hoop Conjecture theory which does away with naked singularity theories. Instead, the Hoop Conjecture talks about an imploding star that turns into a black hole when a designed hoop is placed around it and set to rotate. The hoop has to have a critical circumference set.
Wormholes and time travel
Kip S. Thorne has worked with multiple people concerning his theory about wormholes and time travel. Such scientists include Sung-Won Kim, Mike Morris, and Ulvi Yurtsever and they all came up with theories about masses travelling by way of wormholes and using them as time machines of sort.
Interstellar the Movie
It was mentioned how Kip S. Thorne quit working in the academic setting to pursue a career in film and Interstellar just happens to be his first ever movie which has Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) at the helm. It stars Matt Damon (Bourne Series, Good Will Hunting etc.), Matthew McConaughey (Dazed and Confused), and Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables, The Devil Wears Prada.) Interstellar is a science fiction film and deals with the subject of time travel by way of wormholes which is something Kip S. Thorne is really passionate and knowledgeable about.
Kip S. Thorne is still very much alive and kicking and there is no telling what other movies and advances he is getting ready to come up with. It only remains to be seen but everyone can bet he still has quite a few tricks up his sleeves and will “wow” the public for sure.