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Noted astrophysicist to visit Provo

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Professor Kip Thorne, a Utah native who is one of the world's most noted astro physicists, is returning to the state on Friday to attend a meeting of a physics society and to deliver a public lecture.

Thorne, born in Logan in 1940, is Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. He is famous for his research into gravity and black holes and is the author of the 1994 book, "Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy."In 1997, he won a famous bet he made with his friend, British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Thorne and another Caltech professor named John Preskill bet Hawking that a cosmic object called a naked singularity could exist. Hawking thought one could not but finally concluded that supercomputer calculations had proven that a naked singularity is theoretically possible.

Thorne is credited with developing much of the mathematical process by which physicists analyze the generation of gravitational waves. He is one of three cofounders of a project to detect gravitational waves through use of lasers.

He also introduced thought experiments that ask, "What constraints do the laws of physics place on the activities of an arbitrarily advanced civilization?" In other words, if a civilization were advanced extremely far beyond ours, what couldn't it do because of limitations imposed by the laws of physics?

Using that approach, Thorne has been able to identify features of physical laws that tell much about the basic principles of nature, such as whether time machines could be possible. He identified a universal physical mechanism that may always prevent backward travel through time.

After a banquet Friday, Thorne will deliver an address to which the public is invited. The talk, starting at 8 p.m. in the Marriott Hotel, 101 W. 100 North, is titled "Gravitational Waves: A New Window on the Universe."