Kip Thorne was born in Utah and studied physics at the California Institute of Technology. After obtaining his PhD from Princeton University in 1965 and carrying out two years of postdoctoral study, he returned to Caltech and has worked there ever since.
Thorne has carried out a wide range of theoretical research in gravitation and astrophysics, including having predicted the existence of a type of red supergiant star with a neutron star core, and using general relativity to describe how black holes move and precess. His work has also provided the theoretical underpinnings for LIGO; he and his colleagues have established target sources of gravitational waves and carried out numerical simulations of the kind that allowed the September 2015 signal to be identified as a pair of merging black holes.
In addition to awards recognising his work as a writer and a science advisor to the film Interstellar, Thorne has won the Lilienfeld Prize, the Niels Bohr Gold Medal, the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the Gruber Prize in Cosmology, among others. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, as well as being a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
After receiving the 2016 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics for the direct detection of gravitational waves, he received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for this scientific achievement.