Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

Time-Travel Expert to Give Talk Yesterday

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

Thorne will describe surprising, 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 will then discuss plans and expectations for testing those predictions in 2015–19, 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, 250 miles from Portland.

Thorne was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972, the National Academy of Sciences in 1973, American Philosophical Society in 1999, and was named California Scientist of the Year in 2004. He is internationally recognized for achievement in his field. His numerous honors include the Albert Einstein Medal of the Albert Einstein Society in Berne, Switzerland, and the Niels Bohr Gold Medal from United Nations Educational, Science, and Cultural Organization.

Thorne was awarded the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, the Phi Beta Kappa Science Writing Award, and the Priroda Readers' Choice Award for his book for nonscientists, Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy.

In addition to his scholarly work, Thorne is executive producer on a film by Christopher Nolan, Interstellar, which was adapted from Thorne’s original script treatment.

The lecture will take place in the Vollum Lecture Hall at 3 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Tags: time travel, paradox, physics