The Kavli Foundation
Newsletter Vol. 2 Issue 2, 2009
Dedicated to the advancement of science for the benefit of humanity, The Kavli Foundation supports scientific research, honors scientific achievement, and promotes public understanding of scientists and their work. For more information, visit:

The Royal Society, the United Kingdom's national academy of science, is to open The Kavli Royal Society International Centre -- a new centre dedicated to advancing science. Located at Chicheley Hall, outside Newport Pagnell, the historic, stately home will become a new residential centre where scientists from all over the UK and the world can meet to discuss and develop their work.

Stephen Cox, Executive Secretary of the Royal Society said: "The Kavli Royal Society Centre will gather some of the world's greatest scientific minds. In bringing these people together in a residential atmosphere we hope to create the sort of intense thinking and activity that gave rise to major breakthroughs such as the Apollo project or the decoding of the human genome.  We will also be bringing a new lease of life to this fabulous building. From conferences hosted by the extended Royal Society family to seminars and debates by other leading scientific organisations, the Centre will offer a rich programme of activities that we are sure will contribute greatly to the advance of science." Full story.


2009 Kavli Futures Symposium
Envisioning the Extreme Machine

Computers are the workhorses of science. Without their power to crunch numbers, control instruments, turn raw data into intelligible patterns or pictures and test theories with simulations, most of what we now know about ourselves and the universe might still be a mystery. But computing technology as we know it is reaching its limits, even as scientists look forward to new discoveries that are possible only with a great leap in computing power.

How can computing make that leap? That was the subject of the 2009 Kavli Futures Symposium, "Real Problems for Imagined Computers," a meeting of minds between leading computer experts and scientists in disciplines such as cosmology and neuroscience that use computers to process huge quantities of data. "Computing is something important that we have in common," says lead organizer Roger Blandford, head of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University. Full story.

Michael Prather, University of California, Irvine
Adding the People Factor

Now that environmental scientists have a good understanding of why our climate's changing, how can they help us prepare for a warming world?

This is the question posed by Michael Prather, Fred Kavli Chair and Professor of Earth Science at the University of California, Irvine. A leader in the field, Prather wants scientists to do more than find the root causes of climate change. He hopes they can apply the same rigor used successfully in identifying the physical, chemical and biological factors behind climate change to understanding how people interact with the climate. To do this, he envisions traditional researchers taking a more holistic approach to their work by teaming with colleagues who specialize in fields such as sociology, demographics, economics, political science and the humanities. Full story.

Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology
Chao-Lin Kuo Heads South

To get to the South Pole, first take a commercial flight to Christchurch, New Zealand, then catch a special military flight to McMurdo Station, a large outpost on the Antarctic coast. From there it's a three-hour flight to Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

"When I landed, I saw this completely blue, almost dark sky because the atmosphere is so transparent there," recalled Chao-Lin Kuo of his first trip in 2000. Kuo is an astrophysicist with Stanford University's Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology. The dry, rarified air of the South Pole is ideal for the instruments he and his collaborators use to collect ancient photons. This light tells the story of the origin of the universe. It is all around, but invisible to the human eye.  Full story.


QUIET Team to Deploy New Gravity-Wave Probe in June

A tiny fraction of a second following the big bang, the universe allegedly experienced the most inflationary period it has ever known.
During this inflationary era, space expanded faster than the speed of light. It sounds crazy, but it fits a variety of cosmological observations made in recent years, said Bruce Winstein, physicist at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, the  University of Chicago.

"Theorists take it to be true, but we have to prove it," said Winstein, the Samuel K. Allison Distinguished Service Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. "It needs a real test, and that test is whether or not gravity waves were created."

Winstein and his Chicago associates are part of the international QUIET (Q/U Imaging ExperimenT; the Q and U stand for radiation parameters called Stokes parameters) collaboration that has devised such a test. QUIET's goal: detect remnants of the radiation emitted at the earliest moments of the universe, when gravity waves rippled through the very fabric of space-time itself. Full story.

Caltech Scientists Create Nanoscale Zipper Cavity that Responds to Single Photons of Light

Physicists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a nanoscale device that can be used for force detection, optical communication, and more. The device exploits the mechanical properties of light to create an optomechanical cavity in which interactions between light and motion are greatly strengthened and enhanced. These interactions, notes Oskar Painter, associate professor of applied physics at Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Institute and principal investigator on the research, are the largest demonstrated to date.

The device and the work that led to it are described in a recent issue of the journal Nature. Full story.

Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics
UCTV Interviews KITP Director David Gross

KITP Director David Gross UCTV -- the television broadcasting division of the University of California -- recently visited UC Santa Barbara to interview David Gross, director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. During a thirty minute conversation with journalist Jerry Roberts, Gross discussed the mission and activities of KITP, including why one visiting researcher referred to it as a "mecca" for scientists. He also explained how the institute is expanding the horizons of physics. "Theoretical physicists have accomplished much in the last few hundred years and feel they have very good methods that can be applied to problems they see in nature whether they were traditionally called chemistry or biology or astronomy."  View video.
In This Issue
Feature: 2009 Kavli Futures Symposium
Feature: UC Irvine Kavli Professor Michael Prather
Feature: KIPAC's Chao-Lin Kuo Heads South
Univ. of Chicago: New Gravity-Wave Probe to be Deployed
Caltech: Nanoscale Zipper Cavity Responds to Single Photons of Light
David Gross: UCTV Interview
MIT: Planet Found in Tilted Orbit
Cells in the pale tadpole's brain adopted a new chemical code. 2010 Nomination Call Begins in September

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has posted the nomination period for the 2010 Kavli Prizes. The call for nominations will be open September 1 - December 15, 2009.

The Norwegian Academy has also announced the membership of the three Kavli Prize committees. For additional information about the call for nominations and application process, as well as committee membership, please visit


Planet in Tilted Orbit Around Distant Star

An international team of researchers led by Joshua Winn, assistant professor of physics in MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, has found a planet around another star whose orbit is steeply tilted from the plane of the star's equator, a finding that contradicts some theories about how solar systems form.

Theorists believe this kind of misalignment occurred as a result of a disturbance sometime after the planet's formation. Full story.

Gamma-ray Bursts May Last Longer than Previously Thought

Gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe since the Big Bang, are thought to last mere seconds or a few short minutes. But new data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope show at least some of them have much more staying power. This data set is "an important constraint on the nature of these explosions," said Roger Blandford, director of Stanford's Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology." Full story.


Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science. The Kavli Conference "Molecular Imaging 2009: Routes to Three-Dimensional Imaging of Single Molecules," will take place at Cornell August 9 -13. The goal of Molecular Imaging 2009 is to evaluate approaches to three-dimensional imaging of single molecules in light of recent advances in optical and mechanical spin detection.

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. Kavli fellow George Becker, along with co-authors Michael Rauch and Wallace Sargent, published a paper in the Astrophysical Journal after looking for traces of carbon in the early Universe. "The amount of highly-ionized carbon we found was lower than expected, which suggests that the galaxies at this epoch may be in an early stage of their formation, and have not yet had time to synthesize heavy elements in stars and distribute this material into their surroundings."

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale University.  In Neuron, KNI's Nenad Sestan and colleagues published data and findings from a whole-genome, exon-level expression analysis of 13 regions from the left and right side of the mid-fetal human brain. The new data provides biological insights in the complex transcription and molecular underpinning of human brain development and evolution.

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
In Science, insights that came from a KITP workshop on fire ecology were presented in an article titled "Fire in the Earth System," which called for the dynamic incorporation of fire as both an effect and a cause in models of global climate and its change. 

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University. KIPAC astrophysicist Stefan Funk has been chosen to receive the 2009 Shakti P. Duggal Award, which is awarded by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics to an outstanding young scientist studying the physics of cosmic rays.

Kavli Bullet Point Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago.  "From Earth to the Universe," an exhibit of 56 astronomical images, is on display through the end of the year at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. KICP scientists contributed four of the images.