Faculty to join renowned physicist Kip Thorne to discuss the science of ‘Interstellar’

Screenings of film and panel discussion on the science behind it planned for March 29

Kip Thorne
Dr. Thorne’s visit to campus comes at a very important time for the chosen field of Dr. Thorne and many UMass Dartmouth faculty and students.

UMass Dartmouth will welcome renowned physicist Dr. Kip Thorne March 29. Dr. Thorne is the originator and guiding hand of the 2014 blockbuster movie Interstellar, which is based on black holes, spatial wormholes, and other concepts at the forefront of theoretical physics.

Dr. Thorne’s visit to campus comes at a very important time for the chosen field of Dr. Thorne and many UMass Dartmouth faculty and students. Dr. Thorne recently received international acclaim for a very different achievement beyond Hollywood. He, along with Dr. Rai Weiss of MIT, led a collaboration to build the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). On February 11, the National Science Foundation, which funded LIGO, announced the breakthrough detection of gravitational waves from the merger of massive black holes in a distant galaxy. This historic news came 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves.

Two screenings of Interstellar have been scheduled on the day of Dr. Thorne’s visit to the Dartmouth campus, which is in conjunction with a visit to MIT scheduled for the previous day. Dr. Thorne, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus at Caltech, will join UMass Dartmouth Physics faculty Robert Fisher, David Kagan, Gaurav Khanna, Richard Price, and School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) Professor Geoff Cowles in the Claire T. Carney Library Stoico/FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation Grand Reading Room at 4:30 p.m. for a reception followed by a series of talks at 5 p.m. and a panel discussion at 6 p.m. on the science of Interstellar.

A media availability with Drs. Thorne, Khanna, and Price has been scheduled for 4:15 p.m. on March 29. For more information, contact Joe Sullivan (jsullivan15@umassd.edu).

Dr. Khanna, along with University of Maryland Postdoctoral Researcher Anil Zenginoglu and Georgia Gwinnett College Physics Associate Professor Lior Burko, recently published a computer simulation of the interior of a rotating black hole, which suggests that the movie magic of Interstellar may not just be the stuff of Hollywood. During the press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, scientific computing alongside theory and experimentation were credited as important pieces of the puzzle in the discovery of gravitational waves

This event is sponsored by the UMass Dartmouth Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research (CSCVR), Mathematics Department, and Physics Department. The CSCVR provides undergraduate and graduate students with high quality, discovery-based educational experiences that transcend the traditional boundaries of academic fields, and foster collaborative research in the computational sciences. The CSCVR's computational resources are being utilized to solve complex problems in the sciences ranging from the modeling of ocean waves to uncovering the mysteries of black hole physics. 

UMass Dartmouth was elevated to Doctoral University – Higher Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education following the release of its final 2015 classification in February. UMass Dartmouth is the only Bay State research university located south of Boston.


College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, School for Marine Science and Technology, News and Public Information, Research