Inaugural Address by the first director

The Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) was launched in October 2007, as one of the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The new research institute will integrate the traditionally separate disciplines, mathematics, statistics, theoretical and experimental physics, and astronomy, with a new organizational structure to address the most basic and profound mysteries of the universe.

What is the universe made of?

How did it begin?

What is its fate?

What fundamental laws govern it?

And Why do we exist at all?

The aim of IPMU is to address these rather simple questions human beings had pondered for millennia using the power of forefront science. For example, we have learned amazing facts about the universe in the last ten years. Much of the component of the universe is not made of the kind of matter we know well, namely atoms, but rather of substances called dark matter and dark energy. Their true identity, called "dark" because they don't emit light and therefore we can't see directly, is totally unknown at this moment. To address such deep mysteries we need to create new data, to develop new statistical methods to analyze them, to build new physical theories to understand them, and create new mathematics to formulate them.

It has been well appreciated that mathematics is critical to understand the universe and its fundamental laws. Galileo once said, "Philosophy is written in this grand book ? I mean the Universe ? which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of." On the other hand, the progress of mathematics itself has been inspired by physics. For example, the calculus was invented by Newton to describe the falling motion of an apple. Many among the recent Fields medal awards, which are considered the equivalent of Nobel prize in other fields, were inspired by particle physics research. Mathematics and Physics had been inspiring each other to make progress. At the IPMU, we strive to create new research fields that go beyond the traditional boundaries between mathematics and physics and lead the world in this area.

The IPMU scientists will advance their research by exploiting the giant Subaru telescope built by Japan to "observe" the dark sector of the universe, and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that smashes protons at extremely high energies to mimic the condition of the Big Bang. They will also fully utilize the SuperKamiokande experiment to better understand neutrinos and the puzzle of vanished anti-matter in the universe, and initiate new experiments, for example, to reveal the identity of the dark matter. In addition to this multifaceted experimental approach to the mysteries of the universe, we will pursue new theories of the universe by close collaboration of theoretical physics and advanced mathematics. We will announce new scientific results from IPMU on this web site. Please stay tuned.