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Ta-You Wu Lecture

The University of Michigan's Department of Physics hosts the annual Ta-You Wu Lecture, which is one of the most prestigious lecture events in our Department. The Lectureship was endowed in 1991 through generous gifts from the University of Michigan Alumni Association in Taiwan. It is named in honor of Michigan Physics alumnus and honorary Doctor of Science, Ta-You Wu, one of the central figures of the 20th century in the Chinese and Taiwanese physics communities.

2017 Ta-You Wu Lecture in Physics

Kip S. Thorne, Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus (Caltech)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
4:00-5:00 PM
Rackham Graduate School ­– Main Auditorium

Exploring the Universe with Gravitational Waves:
From the Big Bang to Black Holes
There are two forms of waves that can propagate across the universe: Electromagnetic waves and gravitational waves. Galileo initiated electromagnetic astronomy 400 years ago by pointing a telescope at the sky and discovering the moons of Jupiter. LIGO recently initiated gravitational astronomy by observing gravitational waves from colliding black holes. Professor Thorne will describe this discovery, the 50 year effort that led to it, and the rich explorations that lie ahead.

Biographical Sketch for Professor Kip S. Thorne
Kip S. Thorne is the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He received his B.S. from Caltech in 1962 and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1965, then returned to Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow (1966), an associate professor (1967), a full professor (1970), and the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics (1991). Professor Thorne's research has focused on Einstein's general theory of relativity and on astrophysics, with emphasis on relativistic stars, black holes and especially gravitational waves. He was co-founder (with Rainer Weiss and Ronald Drever) of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) Project. LIGO - in the hands of a younger generation of physicists - made the breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves arriving at Earth from the distant universe on September 14, 2015. Professor Thorne was also co-founder (with Saul Teukolsky) of the SXS (Simulations of eXtreme Spacetimes) Project, which provided numerical simulations of colliding black holes to underpin the data analysis for LIGO’s discovery.

In 2009 Professor Thorne stepped down from his Caltech professorship to ramp up a new career at the interface between art and science. This has included the movie Interstellar (which sprang from a treatment he co-authored, and for which he was Executive Producer); and also multimedia performances with composer Hans Zimmer and visual effects guru Paul Franklin, and a forthcoming book of his poetry and of paintings by Lia Halloran.

Previous Lectures in This Series

View an assortment of past Ta-You Wu lectures on YouTube.

  • 2016 David Spergel: Our Simple but Strange Universe
  • 2015 Dr. Eric BetzigImaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution
  • 2014 Wendy Freedman: The Universe: Continuing Surprises
  • 2014 Dennis Overbye: Confessions of a Dinosaur in the Age of New Media
  • 2013 Nobel laureate David WinelandSuperposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger's Cat
  • 2012 No lecture this year
  • 2011 Gerard Mourou: Former Director of the Laboratoire d’ Optique Appliquée at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Technique Avancée & Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique (France)
  • 2010 Nobel laureate Samuel C. C. Ting: An Experiment to Explore the Mysteries of Space: The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station Gérard MourouLaser-Based High Energy Physics
  • 2009 Helen Quinn: Wandering Planets, Falling Apples, Curving Spaces, Whirling Stars: How Unraveling the Mysteries of Gravity Has Taught Us About the Universe.
  • 2008 Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek: The Universe is a Strange Place
  • 2007 100th Birthday Celebration of the late Ta-You Wu: Distinguished Lecturer, Frank H. ShuThe Formation of Stars and Planetary Systems
  • 2006 Nobel laureate Eric A. CornellIs Warm Glass More Sticky Than Cold Glass? Temperature and Casimir Force
  • 2005 Nobel laureate Anthony J. Leggett: Does the Everyday World Really Obey Quantum Mechanics?
  • 2004 Nobel laureate David J. Gross: Asymptotic Freedom and the Emergence of QCD (Or How I Won the Nobel Prize)
  • 2003 Sir Martin Rees: Where is Cosmology Going?
  • 2002 David Wilkinson (1935-2002): The Cosmic Microwave Backround Radiation
  • 2001 Freeman Dyson: Is Life Analog or Digital?
  • 2000 Nobel laureate Horst L. Stormer: Fractional Electronic Charges and other Tales from Flatland
  • 1999 Nobel laureate Steven Chu: Seeing and Holding onto Atoms and Biological Molecules
  • 1998 Benoit B. Mandelbrot (1924-2010): Fractals and Scale-Invariant Roughness in
    the Sciences
  • 1997 Paul C. W. Chu: The Path of Zero Resistance
  • 1996 Nobel laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1932-2007): Principles of Adhesion
  • 1995 Nobel laureate T. D. Lee: Symmetry and Asymmetry
  • 1994 Nobel laureate Joseph Taylor: Binary Pulsars and Relativistic Gravity
  • 1993 Abraham Pais (1918-2000): George Uhlenbeck Remembered
  • 1992 Nobel laureate C. N. Yang: Considerations on Carbon 60