From the Director

(Originally appeared in the 2015 Kavli IPMU Annual Report)  

Hitoshi Murayama: Kavli IPMU Director

Hitoshi Murayama

The Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) was founded on October 1, 2007. We proposed to address five basic questions about the Universe, how it began, what it is made of, what its fate is, what its fundamental laws are, and why we exist in it. We do so by combining mathematics, physics, and astronomy, employing accelerator-based experiments, underground experiments, and observations at telescopes. This Institute literally started from scratch, but now has grown to a size of about 150 people on site including graduate students and support staff.

In 2015, we were extremely happy that the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Kavli IPMU Principal Investigator, Takaaki Kajita, director of the University of Tokyo Institute for Cosmic Ray Research. His historic discovery of neutrino oscillation provides us with a key clue to tackling the long-standing mystery “why do we exist in the Universe?” A tiny amount of neutrino mass could have tilted the balance between matter and anti-matter, and prevented a complete annihilation of these two and hence us, which is a well-known theory proposed by M. Fukugita and T. Yanagida at the Kavli IPMU. The discovery motivates our leading neutrino experiments including T2K and KamLAND-ZEN.

We have advanced four missions to reinforce WPI activities: science, fusion, globalization and system reform. I have lined up those prominent scientific results in “Research Highlights”. The “tea-time” scheme is keeping its important role as the mutual interaction among mathematicians, physicists and astronomers. Establishing an international research environment is reflected in the large number of applications for post-doctorial positions, the near 800 visitors the institute has had, half coming from abroad, organizing 17 highly reputed international workshops and so on. The institute has activated system reform within the University, resulting in honors including the UTokyo President’s Award for business transformation.

We proposed an ambitious plan to include statistics in our research, joined a new international graduate program Global Science Graduate Course (GSGC), created a new program to bring graduate students from Oxford University, pushed forward new projects such as LiteBIRD, and made sure that the institute will be sustainable. We are looking into an even brighter future!