Last week, we finally moved into the new IPMU building! I don’t need to stress how big an improvement it is to move out from an overpopulated prefab to an actual building. Especially when the new building is really nice!
I’ll not bore you with a lot of text here, let the pictures speak for themselves! (more…)
Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
After getting everyone worried about the threat of budget cuts, I guess it’s fair to let you know that for now, everything is alright. The numbers for the budget of the next fiscal year are out, and IPMU will be cut by only 3.6%. Given the prospects, we are very relieved. The Minister of Education has received about 900 letters supporting the WPI program, most of which were in behalf of IPMU! A big thank you to everyone who wrote one!
Read more over at the Quantum Diaries.
After less than one year of construction time, the new building of IPMU is handed over today in a ribbon cutting ceremony. Unfortunately, we can’t attend, since we’re on the other side of the world. For the occasion, I am posting a little stop motion movie I made from pictures I took of the construction site from the roof of the neighboring building.
New governments mean changes of the status quo. Even if the last government assured you of X, the new one might tell you tomorrow, “not X”.
Japan has been under a new government since September of this year. And as is the case for so many governments all around the world, it is now contemplating severe funding cuts for – yes, you guessed it: fundamental research.
Because fundamental research is useless, right? No direct applications, right? No one will see in a country’s overall economic and technological performance that they saved a bunch of money on science, right?
Wrong! Maybe you don’t see it today or tomorrow. But you will see it, trust me. Do I really have to say things like laser technology (you probably own a CD or DVD player, right?), GPS, etc.? Because the laser is an outcome of quantum mechanics no one dreamed of when quantum mechanics was founded, and GPS technology actually needs Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity for its precise calculations of location. Any country who fails to attract brain and to invest into fundamental research will end up missing out on some future development that we can’t foresee now.
Today, we are celebrating the 2nd birthday of the Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU).
In these two years, IPMU has gone from being just an idea to being a research institution with about 60 on-site researchers! By this winter, IPMU will have more than 100 members (this number includes about 30 people of the administrative office).
This week IPMU (Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe), in the spirit of bringing together mathematicians and physicists, is hosting the focus week Statistical Frontiers of Astrophysics. Even though I am neither an astrophysicist nor a statistician, I am attending part of the lectures. (After all, looking at the stars was a favorite pastime of mine when I was little.) Whereas in my field, we are forced to come up with theoretical models in the absence of experimental data, the problem of astrophysicists consists in extracting meaningful information from a giant data collection.
Astronomy is an observational science. Unlike in my own field, an enormous amount of data is available to the astrophysicist.
The times when astronomers pointed their telescopes at the night sky and and cataloged by hand what they saw are over. In recent years, very potent instruments to measure what’s up in the sky have become available. The one best known to the public is probably the Hubble Space Telescope. (more…)
Japan is very careful about the new influenza. In order to hold an international conference, in this case our Focus Week on New Invariants and Wall Crossing, which people from infected countries such as the USA and Canada were going to attend, we had to comply to a number of rules. Such as disinfecting our hands before entering the venue, and wearing surgical masks.
Maybe some of you wonder about this place IPMU for which we came all the way to Japan. What is this place, and what is it like?
First of all, IPMU is a model project. It is one of the five research centers funded by the WPI, a Japanese program to create internationally competitive top level research institutions. IPMU stands for Insitute of the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe. These are a lot of big words in one name. What it means is that at IPMU, researchers think about the most fundamental questions, about how the universe works and how it began. We do fundamental research here. In this moment, it is one of the few places in the world that actively invests into fundamental research.
The Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques is celebrating its 50st anniversary this year. And it decided to do this in Japan, with a conference entitled Perspectives in mathematical sciences. This offered us not only the possibility to hear some of today’s finest mathematical minds, but also deepen our knowledge of this enormous and confusing beast named Tokyo.