Nobel Prize Laureate Talks Science of ‘Interstellar’ at Mauna Lani

January 8, 2018, 9:00 AM HST
* Updated January 8, 9:04 AM

Dr. Kip Thorne. Photo courtesy of Bennet Group.

More than 750 people attended a W.M. Keck Observatory astronomy talk by Dr. Kip Thorne on Friday, Jan. 5, discussing the science behind the blockbuster film “Interstellar.” With standing room only, the talk was held at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel’s Hale Hoaloha Pavilion.

Dr. Thorne is a 2017 Nobel Physics Prize Laureate, and executive producer of the film which turned science facts into science fiction.

“At Keck Observatory we are passionate about delivering truly transformational science and sharing the excitement with the public, here in Hawai‘i and worldwide,” said Hilton Lewis, director of Keck Observatory. “We are delighted to have been able to bring to our community one of the greatest theoretical physicists of our time.”

Dr. Thorne, a Caltech Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, and co-founder of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), was instrumental in the historic discovery of gravitational waves in 2015 which has initiated a new era in the field of astronomy. His input into the film “Interstellar” made it as scientifically accurate as possible, reflecting the current understanding of the universe as we know it.

Talk attendees line up outside the event. Photo courtesy of the Bennet Group.

“It is often difficult for audiences to distinguish fact from fiction, with movies presenting everything from credible science to ideas that utterly violate the laws of physics and the universe,” said Dr. Thorne. “I appreciate the opportunity to describe the great efforts we made with Interstellar to keep it true to our understanding of the universe; and also our insistence that, wherever scientists are uncertain about the universe and its physical laws, we restrict Interstellar to speculations that emerge from real science and to ideas regarded by respected scientists as possible.”


Keck Observatory will continue to bring notable scientists to Hawai‘i for free public events. For more information about talks, events and ongoing astronomy research, visit


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