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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

IPMU Picture Book

Blue Glow in the Blue Hour
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…)

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Thanks for all the help!

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.

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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.

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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.
(more…)

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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).

A truly international community. Fig. courtesy of IPMU

A truly international community. Fig. courtesy of IPMU

My husband and I are two of them, and we’re proud to be among the pioneers. Last year at this time, there were about 30 of us. While were watching our new building grow out of the ground like a big mushroom, many new colleagues have arrived, and eventually the mark of 200 people should be reached. (more…)

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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…)

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The Belle detector

The Belle detector

Last week I participated at an event designed to get Japanese high school girls interested in science. The benefit I had from it was being able to visit the KEKB accelerator. I think that for me, this must have been much more of a treat than for the girls. After all, being a particle physicist by training (albeit theoretical), I learned about these famed machines that unveil the mysteries of elementary particles for us many years ago at university and have a continued fascination for them. And in the world, there are not so many labs with accelerators worth mentioning. Apart from CERN in Geneva, DESY in Hamburg, and Fermilab and SLAC in the USA, well, there was only KEK, a name I had learned of a long time back. Little did I expect to one day touch its beam pipe with my own hand. (more…)

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