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Astrophysicist Kip S. Thorne to Hold Einstein Lecture Dahlem on 100th Anniversary of Einstein's Presentation of the Theory of Relativity

Lecture on November 25 at Freie Universität Berlin to Address Impact of Einstein's Theory in Science and Popular Culture / Interview Opportunity

№ 340/2015 from Nov 02, 2015

The American astrophysicist Kip S. Thorne will hold the 15th Einstein Lecture Dahlem on November 25 – exactly 100 years to the day after the physicist Albert Einstein introduced the theory of general relativity in the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Thorne, who was a professor at the California Institute of Technology until 2009, became known to a wider public as a scientific advisor for the science fiction film Interstellar, which ran in movie theaters in 2014. In his lecture at Freie Universität, Thorne will address the impact of the theory of relativity on physics; this includes explanations for so-called black holes or the big bang. Using Interstellar as an example, he will illustrate how the theory has become part of popular culture. This very special Einstein Lecture Dahlem will be held in cooperation with the Max Planck Society, the successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, where Einstein headed the Institute of Physics as of 1917. The lecture is open to the public, and admission is free. For organizational purposes, advance registration is requested via the website www.fu-berlin.de/einsteinlectures.

Kip S. Thorne will be available for interviews on November 25. Please address interview requests to presse@fu-berlin.de.

Thorne's lecture "A Century of Einstein’s Relativity: From the Big Bang to Black Holes and Interstellar" will be given in English. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Renn, the director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, will give an introduction to the lecture.

In his lecture, Thorne will look back at 100 years of general relativity and explain the theory using examples from the film Interstellar. The movie directed by Christopher Nolan is set in the second half of the 21st century. It portrays a scientist who hopes to save humankind with his theory, which aims to unite quantum physics and gravity. Thorne was a scientific consultant for the film.

Thorne was the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute for Technology (Caltech), where he earned his B.S. degree in physics in 1962. He earned his doctorate from Princeton University in 1965 and returned to Caltech to teach and do research. Thorne's research interests include gravitational physics and astrophysics. Since 2009 he has also worked as a writer and film consultant.

The Einstein Lectures Dahlem, hosted by Freie Universität Berlin in partnership with several external institutions, are dedicated to the epochal work of Albert Einstein in Berlin. The 15th Einstein Lecture Dahlem is being hosted in cooperation with the Max Planck Society, which is committed to Einstein's legacy in many respects. Between 1917 and 1933, Einstein was the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics, which reemerged after 1948 as the Max Planck Institute of Physics. Various Max Planck Institutes conduct research based on Einstein's theory, which is also an important impetus for the research dialogue between the natural sciences and humanities. In the 1980s the Max Planck Society played an important role in re-establishing the physical research that is based on Einstein's theory of relativity while at the same time promoting research of Einstein's theory in the history of science during the course of the 20th century.

The Einstein Lectures Dahlem series was instituted at Freie Universität in 2005. The lectures address a broad academic public and cover various scientific disciplines influenced by Einstein’s thinking.

Press Images

Kip S. Thorne
The photo may be downloaded by members of the media. It may be used free of charge in the context of this press release, provided that due credit is given to Kip S. Thorne/Jon Rou.

Albert Einstein
The photo may be downloaded by members of the media. It may be used free of charge in the context of this press release, provided that due credit is given to © Archiv der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem.

Further Information

Time and Location

  • Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 6 p.m.
  • Freie Universität Berlin, Henry Ford Building, Lecture Hall A, Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin. Subway station: Thielplatz (U3)

Advance Registration


  • Franca Brand, Division of International Affairs, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-73801, Email: franca.brand@fu-berlin.de
  • Dr. Susanne Kiewitz, Department of Comunication, Max Planck Society, Berlin Office, Tel.: +49 30 4990 5654, Email: susanne.kiewitz@gv.mpg.de

Links to Further Information

The event:

Information compiled by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science about Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity (in German):