search

Kip Thorne: From the Big Bang to Black Holes and Gravitational Waves

From The Physics of Nothing

One of the most striking and important predictions of general relativity, first recognized by Einstein in 1916, a few months after he published the theory, is that space and time can oscillate, much in the same way that the surface of the ocean oscillates. These ripples in space and time are known as gravitational waves, and they are a characteristic feature of empty space in the theory—that is, they reflect the dynamic nature of space and time in the absence of any stuff. In 2015, almost a century after Einstein predicted their existence, gravitational waves were observed by an international collaboration of physicists known as LIGO and VIRGO. This discovery earned a Nobel Prize for three of the physicists who pioneered the LIGO detector: Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss, and Barry Barish. In this public lecture, delivered at the California Institute of Technology shortly after LIGO announced the first observation of gravitational waves in February 2016, Thorne explains what gravitational waves are and how they work.

April 21, 2018

California Institute of Technology

Curated by

James Owen Weatherall