Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Kip Thorne has spent his career describing, through mathematics, some of the deepest mysteries of the universe. His latest project takes on similar material, but through poetry and paintings.
A nearly two-decade collaboration with artist Lia Halloran has extracted from Thorne’s brain the pictures that accompany those highly technical descriptions and brought them to life in their new book, “The Warped Side of the Universe: An Odyssey Through Black Holes, Wormholes, Time Travel, and Gravitational Waves.” The weighty tome blends complex science with whimsical art and features more than 300 ink-on-film paintings by Halloran alongside poetry by Thorne.
Thorne, the 2017 Nobel laureate in physics and emeritus theoretical physics professor at the California Institute of Technology, and Halloran, associate professor at Chapman University, shared the story behind their partnership at a Harvard Science Book Talk last week, moderated by MIT physicist and humanities Professor Alan Lightman (one of Thorne’s former students at CalTech).
The book, said Thorne, is not meant to teach the particulars of astrophysical concepts, but rather to “convey the essence of the ideas, the feeling, the experience of the ideas, without going into the technical details — like I do in my other life.”