Linbo Fan / Sun Staff Photographer

Senior research assistant Lawrence Kidder was elected as one of the new 155 Fellows of the American Physical Society. Kidder joins the ranks of previous fellows like Hans Bethe and Richard Feynman.

October 3, 2018

Lawrence Kidder Elected as American Physical Society Fellow for 2018

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Lawrence Kidder, a senior research associate at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science who helped develop simulations for the gravitational waveforms of coalescing black holes, has been elected an American Physical Society Fellow.

Each year, the American Physical Society elects a small batch of its members to become APS Fellows. For 2018, Lawrence Kidder was one of the 155 new fellows.

“It was a great honor, and very satisfying to have my work recognized by my peers,” Kidder told the Sun.

APS’s website states that Kidder was elected for “major contributions to the development of numerical relativity by being a principal author of the Spectral Einstein Code” and for “contributions to the post-Newtonian theory of spinning bodies.”

Kidder, Prof. Saul Teukolsky, physics, and their multi-institutional team called Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes collaborated on the Spectral Einstein Code.

According to the SXS website, SpEC provides “one of the most accurate and efficient codes to compute the gravitational waveforms for inspiraling and coalescing binary black holes.”

Kidder and Teukolsky were also contributors to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory project. LIGO observed gravitational waves in 2015, which earned two of its founders, Prof. Kip S. Thorne, theoretical physics, California Institute of Technology, and Prof. Emeritus Rainer Weiss, physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017. Kidder and Teukolsky shared the honor of receiving the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for their contributions to LIGO.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Larry,” Teukolsky said. “He has been a leader and key member of the SXS collaboration since its founding in 2005. He is responsible for much of the success of the collaboration in predicting the shape of the gravitational wave signals detected by LIGO and showing that they come from colliding black holes.”

With his election, Kidder joins the ranks of other Cornell-affiliated APS Fellows, including Hans Bethe who was elected in 1935 and Richard Feynman who was elected in 1946. According to the APS website, Cornell has a fellow almost every year.

According to the APS, fellowship is “a distinct honor signifying recognition by one’s professional peers.” No greater than 0.5 percent of APS’ membership, not including student members, are elected fellows each year.

For APS members to be made fellows, they “may have made advances in physics through original research and publication, or made significant innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology.”

Kidder is currently working on a project adapting the SpEC to make predictive models of the behavior of neutron stars.

Kidder is currently working on a project adapting the SpEC to make predictive models of the behavior of neutron stars.