From winning a physics Nobel prize to developing the concept for a Hollywood blockbuster film, theoretical physicist Kip Thorne's expertise and enthusiasm for astrophysics has captured the minds and imaginations of millions. His research in gravitational waves contributed to their detection by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in 2015, and he lent his scientific credentials as a consultant for the 2014 film Interstellar.
On Thursday 24 May, Professor Thorne brings his brand of science excitement to ICTP, where he will deliver a colloquium on Geometrodynamics: The Nonlinear Dynamics of Curved Spacetime. His talk centers on a challenge posed 50 years ago by his doctoral supervisor, John Wheeler, to explore geometrodynamics--understanding gravitation through fluctuations in geometry--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," says Thorne in his talk's abstract. Thorne will describe what these have begun to teach us, and will offer a vision for the future of geometrodynamics.