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Caltech’s Kip Thorne: Long Haul, Towering Discovery

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Published on Feb 10, 2017

On September 14, 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) for the first time observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, which arrived at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. The discovery, which confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, was payoff for years of work by LIGO’s far-sighted founders.

Today LIGO is a scientific collaboration headquartered at Caltech that comprises more than 1,000 scientists from 90 research institutions in 16 countries. But before LIGO grew to become the largest-ever project funded by the National Science Foundation, it was an ambitious dream.

In this video, Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, talks about the years leading up to LIGO’s first detection of gravitational waves and how a small research team, their big vision, and decades of unwavering support opened a new window to the universe.

Visit breakthrough.caltech.edu to learn more about how Break Through: The Caltech Campaign is supporting Caltech scholars and their extraordinary research.

Video produced by Caltech in association with Smartypants Pictures. ©2016 California Institute of Technology

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