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2018 Ceremony

The Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science

An International Award Honoring the Scientist as Poet

Communicating Science through the Arts: The Big Bang, Black Holes, and Gravitational Waves

5:30 PM Registration and Reception
6:30 PM Prize Presentation and Lecture

Free admission and open to the public.
Registration is required.

The Rockefeller University
Caspary Auditorium
1230 York Avenue at East 66th St.
New York City


Kip S. Thorne, Ph.D.

Recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics
The Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus
California Institute of Technology

Kip Thorne’s passion for physics has not only fueled major scientific achievements, it also has driven him to share its marvels with people far outside academia. His contributions to the discovery of gravitational waves earned him the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, and he has spread his knowledge and awe about general relativity to millions of individuals through books and film.

Born in Logan, Utah, Thorne made a fateful visit to a bookstore when he was 13 years old. There, he found George Gamow’s science book for the general public, One, Two, Three…Infinity. Thorne read it repeatedly. After the third time, he decided to be a physicist.

He attended California Institute of Technology as an undergraduate and earned his Ph.D. at Princeton. There, Thorne dug into Einstein’s ideas about general relativity, grappling with the theoretical underpinnings of black holes, neutron stars, and other aspects of gravitation. During graduate school, he also attended a summer course that plunged him into the subject of gravitational waves. When he set up his own research group as a faculty member at the California Institute of Technology, he focused on this topic.

From the beginning of his career, Thorne knew he wanted to inspire and teach lay people about the beauty of physics. Toward that end, he wrote Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy, a book that covers general relativity, how scientists learn, and how ideas change.

Thorne set his sights on a much larger audience when he embarked on a movie project with Lynda Obst that culminated in Interstellar. In close collaboration with the director, screenwriter, and computer graphics team, he embedded general relativity in the film. Thorne is now participating in a series of multi-media concerts about warped space and time. He is also working on a book with painter Lia Halloran and on a second movie.

Thorne has received many honors in addition to the Nobel Prize, including the Karl Schwarzschild Medal, the UNESCO Niels Bohr Gold Medal, and a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

Kip ThornePhoto by Jon Rou

Lewis Thomas Prize logo


Christine Hodgson
Assistant Director
Outreach Programming and Events
The Rockefeller University
1230 York Avenue, Box 164
New York, NY 10065