DATE: Thursday, June 3, 2010
TIME: 8:00 PM-9:30 PM
VENUE: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
PARTICIPANTS: Andrew Hamilton, Kip S. Thorne, Raphael Bousso, Robbert Dijkgraaf

Black holes are gravitational behemoths that dramatically twist space and time. Recently, they’ve also pointed researchers to a remarkable proposal—that everything we see may be akin to a hologram. Alan Alda joins Kip Thorne, Robbert Dijkgraaf and other renowned researchers on an odyssey through one of nature’s most spectacular creations, and learn how they are leading scientists to rewrite the rules of reality.

  • Share This:


Alan Alda
Actor, Author, Director

Alan Alda, a seven-time Emmy® Award winner, played Hawkeye Pierce and wrote many of the episodes on the classic TV series M*A*S*H, and appeared in continuing roles on ER, The West Wing, 30 Rock, and The Blacklist. He has starred in, written, and directed many films, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator. His interest in science led to his hosting the award-winning PBS series Scientific American Frontiers for 11 years, on which he interviewed hundreds of scientists. Also on PBS, he hosted The Human Spark, winning the 2010 Kavli Science Journalism Award, and Brains on Trial in 2013. On Broadway, he appeared as the physicist Richard Feynman in the play QED. He is the author of the play Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie. He has won the National Science Board’s™ Public Service Award, the Scientific American Lifetime Achievement Award, and the American Chemical Society Award for Public Service, among others. He is a Visiting Professor at Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.



Andrew Hamilton is an astrophysicist known for his scientifically accurate general relativistic visualizations of black holes, which have appeared on a number of TV documentary programs, including Nova and National Geographic, in a show at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and on the web, including on YouTube. His computerized renderings, which take viewers into black holes utilizing video game software developed by Silicon Graphics and are based on Einstein’s equations, are designed to visualize the unseen, he told The New York Times. “When I started this, I had no idea what would emerge from the equations,” he said.

Dr. Hamilton, who has published broadly in the fields of astrophysics, cosmology and relativity, is Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Fellow and current Chair of the JILA research institute.

Kip Thorne_200px
Theoretical Physicist
Kip Thorne is the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, at Caltech. He was the co-founder (with Rai Weiss and Ron Drever) of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) Project and he chaired the steering committee that led LIGO in its earliest years (1984-87). In the 1980s, 90s and 2000s, he and his research group provided theoretical support for LIGO, including identifying gravitational wave sources that LIGO should target and laying foundations for data analysis techniques by which their waves are being sought. Thorne has been mentor for 52 Ph.D. physicists, many of whom have gone on to become world leaders in their chosen fields of research. With John A. Wheeler and Charles W. Misner, Thorne coauthored in 1973 the textbook Gravitation, from which most of the present generation of scientists have learned general relativity. He is also a co-author of Gravitation Theory and Gravitational Collapse (1965) and Black Holes: The Membrane Paradigm (1986), and the sole author of the the worldwide best-seller, Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy (1994). Dr. Thorne received his B.S. degree from Caltech in 1962 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1965. After two years of postdoctoral study, he returned to Caltech as an associate professor in 1967, was promoted to Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1970, became The William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor in 1981, and The Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1991.

Raphael Bousso is recognized for discovering the general relation between the curved geometry of space-time and its information content, known as the “covariant entropy bound.” This allowed for a precise and general formulation of the holographic principle, which is believed to underlie the unification of quantum theory and Einstein’s theory of gravity. Bousso is also one of the discoverers of the landscape of string theory, which explains the small but non-vanishing value of the cosmological constant (or “dark energy”). His work has led to a novel view of cosmology, the multiverse of string theory. Bousso is currently professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mathematical Physicist

Robbert Dijkgraaf is director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study, one of the world’s leading centers for curiosity-driven research in the sciences and humanities. Dijkgraaf is a mathematical physicist who has made important contributions to string theory and the advancement of science education. In addition to discovering deep connections between matrix models, topological string theory, and supersymmetric quantum field theory, Dijkgraaf has developed precise formulas for the counting of bound states that explain the entropy of certain black holes. Past President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and Co-Chair (since 2009) of the InterAcademy Council, Dijkgraaf is a distinguished public policy adviser and passionate advocate for science and the arts. Many of his activities, which have included frequent appearances on Dutch television, a monthly newspaper column, and the launch of the science education website are at the interface between science and society.