Science vs. Fiction: The Warped Side of Our Universe

Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne and award-winning artist Lia Halloran come to Pioneer Works to launch their book, The Warped Side of Our Universe. Nearly two decades in the making, the book of poetry and paintings brings to vivid life the wonders and wildness of our universe’s “Warped Side”—objects and phenomena made from warped space and time, from colliding black holes and collapsing wormholes to twisting space vortices and down-cascading time. Through poetic verse and otherworldly paintings, the authors explicate astrophysical discoveries and speculations, with an epic narrative that asks: How did the universe begin? Can anything travel backward in time? And what weird and marvelous phenomena inhabit the Warped Side? Featuring more than 100 paintings, including a soaring Stephen Hawking, this one-of-a-kind volume, with its multiple gatefolds, takes us on an Odyssean voyage into and through The Warped Side of Our Universe.

Our new signature series, Science vs. Fiction, is inspired by the idea that scientific discovery and fictional world building can be complementary. Each is driven by a love of complexity, a curiosity about the workings of the universe, and the capacity to imagine alternative realities or entirely new worlds. We celebrate filmmakers, authors, and artists for whom science and fiction, observation and fantasy, nature and technology intertwine to spark new ideas in science and beyond.

Books will be available for sale and a book signing will follow the conversation.

Before and after the conversation, join us in the garden for stargazing with the Amateur Astronomers Association of NY, and food by Eat Off Beat.

About the Panelists

Kip Thorne is an American Nobel Prize–winning physicist known for his contributions in gravitational physics and astrophysics. A longtime friend and colleague of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, he was the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) until 2009 and speaks of the astrophysical implications of general theory of relativity. He continues to do scientific research and scientific consulting, most notably for the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar. Thorne was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics along with Rainer Weiss and Barry C. Barish "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves."

Lia Halloran is an award-winning artist who has exhibited widely in galleries and museums. Her studio practice has been in dialogue with interactions between science and nature for decades and often makes use of scientific concepts as a starting points to produce merged projects that have included astrophysics, magnetism, perception, scale, gravity, giant caves of crystals and ice, cabinets of curiosities, taxonomy, classification, and periodic table of elements. Halloran has participated in several interdisciplinary projects with scientists, artists, and architects including Pioneer Works Director of Science, Janna Levin. Halloran is an associate professor and chair of the art department at Chapman University and represented by the gallery Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. She lives with her wife and two children in Los Angeles, California.

Kip Thorne is a principal character in Janna Levin’s book, Black Hole Blues. Janna is the Pioneer Works Director of Sciences and the editor-in-chief of Pioneer Works Broadcast. She is also the Claire Tow Professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. A Guggenheim Fellow, Janna has contributed to an understanding of black holes and cosmology. She is the presenter of the NOVA feature Black Hole Apocalypse, aired on PBS—the first female presenter for NOVA in 35 years. She is the author of four books, one of which won a PEN prize for a first work of fiction. Her latest book is Black Hole Survival Guide.

This program is supported by the Simons Foundation.