Kip S. Thorne
2005 Common Wealth Award
For four decades, astrophysicist Kip S. Thorne, 64, has been opening new windows on the universe for scientists and lay audiences alike. He is the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1966. He is widely known for mentoring young scientists and for his groundbreaking work in applying general relativity to astrophysics. His innovative research has elucidated gravitational waves, black holes, neutron stars and the nature of space, time and gravity. Thorne has been at the vanguard of researchers studying gravitational waves, hypothetical ripples in space produced by disturbances in the universe. He was one of three scientists who conceived and founded the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Using LIGO’s instruments, physicists hope to detect and measure gravitational waves and use them to probe the nature of gravity and the dark side of the universe. Thorne co-authored the classic textbook, Gravitation, and wrote a bestseller for lay readers, Black Holes and Time Warps, Einstein's Outrageous Legacy.