Eliot Circular

Time-Travel Expert to Give Talk Yesterday

Photo by Leah Nash

Renowned physicist Dr. Kip Thorne will give a lecture at Reed on “The Warped Side of Our Universe: From the Big Bang to Black Holes and Gravitational Waves” on August 27, 2013—which may be tomorrow, today, or yesterday, depending on your frame of reference.

Dr. Thorne, a retired professor of theoretical physics at California Institute of Technology, is one of the world’s leading experts on gravitational waves, black holes, and wormholes—hypothetical “shortcuts” in the space-time continuum that give rise to the theoretical possibility of time travel.

Dr. Thorne was on campus to receive the 2013 Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology, created as a tribute to the late Howard Vollum ’36, a Reed trustee and a lifelong friend of the college.

Thorne described recent predictions about what happens on the warped side of our universe­—that is, objects that are made of warped space and warped time, instead of matter. He then discussed plans for testing those predictions by observing gravitational waves and extracting the information they carry. The key instruments for this are gravitational-wave interferometers, including the LIGO interferometer at Hanford, Washington.

Thorne is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is the author of Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy and is executive producer of the film Interstellar. And if none of this has happened yet in your timeframe,  please don’t xerox any mirrors.