Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

Kip Stephen Thorne
California Institute of Technology


"For contributing significantly to the theoretical understanding of such topics as black holes, gravitational radiation and quantum nondemolition measurements; for advocating tirelessly the development of gravitational radiation detectors; and for conveying lucidly the excitement of these topics to professional and lay audiences alike"


Kip Thorne received his BS from Caltech in 1962 and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1965. After two years of postdoctoral study, he returned to Caltech as an Associate Professor and was promoted to Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1970. He became The William R. Kenan Jr., Professor in 1981 and the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1991.

Thorne's research has focused on gravitation physics and astrophysics, with emphasis on black holes and gravitational waves. He has mentored many of the leading theorists who now work on observational, experimental, or astrophysical facets of general relativity. He was co-founder of the LIGO Project (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory), and he and his research group are now working on theoretical aspects of LIGO.

Thorne was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1973, and he is a fellow of the American Physical Society as well as a member of the American Astronomical Society. He has won the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award in Physics and Astronomy (twice: 1969 and 1994), and the Phi Beta Kappa Science Writing Award (1994).