The Kavli Foundation
NewsletterVol. 4, Issue 1 2011
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:


In advance of a Kavli Futures Symposium on the direction of nanoscience, four extraordinary scientists share their thoughts on the state and future of the field.

David Awschalom,  Angela Belcher, Michael Roukes and Donald Eigler
Clockwise from top left: David Awschalom, Angela Belcher, Michael Roukes and Donald Eigler.

In the late 1950s, Richard Feynman famously proposed that when it came to scientific discovery, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom." In other words, there were still many remarkable discoveries to be made by exploring and manipulating matter all the way down to the level of individual atoms.

Now, over fifty years after Feyman's proposal, scientists are gathering at the California Institute of Technology to imagine how this young field may change in the next half a century -- and in the process, change our world. In advance of the event, four extraordinary participants and moderators  -- David Awschalom, Angela Belcher, Donald Eigler and Michael Roukes -- discuss the future of nanoscience and its expected near-term impact on other scientific fields. Full story


Feynman's Vision: A Perspective

The upcoming Kavli Futures Symposium is titled "Plenty of Room in the Middle: Nanoscience - The Next 50 Years" -- a recognition not only of the new direction of nanoscience, but the legacy of Richard Feynman. Michael Roukes and Donald Eigler, co-chairs of the Symposium, reflect on the celebrated physicist's role in the narrative of nanoscience. Full story


macarthurNano Meets Astro: Two MacArthur Grant Winners Uncover Their Common Ground in Physics

MacArthur Grant recipients
Left to right: Nergis Mavalvala of MIT and Michal Lipson of Cornell University

Michal Lipson of Cornell University and Nergis Mavalvala of MIT are researchers whose interests are in one sense at opposite poles on the scale of matter, given that Lipson deals with nanoscale photonics, while Mavalvala works on the detection of the massive gravitational waves of cosmic origin.

But after both scientists received coveted MacArthur Fellowships -- an honor that recognizes their extraordinary work at the frontiers of physics -- the Foundation used the occasion to introduce the two Kavli-affiliated researchers to each other by phone, and in a teleconference, discuss their work and areas of common ground. "If you look at the overlap between the kinds of things we do, at least in concept it's actually huge," states Mavalvala. Full story

Winners of the 2010 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards Announced

  AAAS Kavli Journalism Award Winners
Probing environmental reports on the size of the Gulf oil spill, the possible risks of chemicals commonly found in drinking water, and the fate of an endangered fish in the Colorado River are among the winners of the 2010 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.

The awards, administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), go to professional journalists for distinguished reporting for a general audience. Independent panels of science journalists pick the winners, who will receive $3,000 and a plaque at the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in February.

"It's an enormous honor to receive this award from the AAAS," said Charles Duhigg, who won the large-newspaper award for his "Toxic Waters" series in The New York Times. Full story

Kavli Prize


His Majesty King Harald of Norway presents the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience.
His Majesty King Harald of Norway presents the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience at Oslo Concert Hall. To see a video of the ceremony, click image. (Scanpix)
On September 7, 2010, the 2010 Kavli Prize laureates were presented their awards by His Majesty King Harald of Norway during a ceremony in Oslo, Norway. The laureates received a gold medal and scroll, and a prize in each field also included a cash award of one million dollars. The ceremony also featured celebratory performances, as well as presentations by masters of ceremony Alan Alda and se Kleveland.  View video


Inaugural Kavli Prize Science Forum Focuses on International Cooperation in Science

John P. Holdren
John P. Holdren, science advisor to President Barack Obama, and keynote speaker at the Kavli Prize Science Forum. To hear his address and see slide presentation, click image.
The inaugural Kavli Prize Science Forum brought together global leaders in shaping science policy to focus on "The Role of International Cooperation in Science."

A biennial international forum to facilitate high-level discussion of major topics on science and science policy, the participants focused on issues ranging from climate change to the importance of successfully communicating science to the public.  Keynote speakers were John P. Holdren, Science Advisor to President Barack Obama and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, and Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, the first Secretary General of the European Research Council and now the Secretary General of the Human Frontier Science Program. An opening address was given by Jonas Gahr Stre, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs. About the Kavli Prize Science Forum

Fermi's Large Area Telescope Sees Surprising Flares in Crab Nebula

Crab Nebula
(Image courtesy NASA/ESA.)


The Crab Nebula, one of our best-known and most stable neighbors in the winter sky, is shocking scientists with a propensity for fireworks-gamma-ray flares set off by the most energetic particles ever traced to a specific astronomical object. The discovery, reported today by scientists working with two orbiting telescopes, is leading researchers to rethink their ideas of how cosmic particles are accelerated. Full story

More Astrophysics News

New Director Assumes Helm of Institute; Opens Bionanoscience Department
Cees Dekker
Cees Dekker, the new director of TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience (Credit: TU Delft)

Cees Dekker has been appointed the director of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology (KIND), succeeding Hans Mooij, the Institute's founding director. KIND has also opened a Department of Bionanoscience, which will focus on the interface between biology and nanoscience. KIND now has departments in Bionanoscience and Quantum Nanoscience.

"As a consequence of its impact in the medical field, amongst others, bionanoscience is expected to become one of the key scientific areas of the 21st century," said Dekker. "By means of this new department, TU Delft is greatly expanding its research in the direction of biology, and this is a significant development." Full story


More Nanoscience News

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Kavli Futures Symposium: the Future of Nanoscience
Astro Meets Nano: Interview with MacArthur Grant Winners Michal Lipson and Nergis Mavalvala
Winners of the 2010 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards Announced
2010 Kavli Prize Laureates Honored
Astrophysics News
Nanoscience News
Theoretical Physics/ Neuroscience News


National Team of Scientists Peers into the Future of Stem Cell Biology

Pluripotency is the ability of the human embryonic stem cell to differentiate or become almost any cell in the body. Now an interdisciplinary team of scientists from leading institutions in biology, physics and engineering -- including the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics -- has reported in Cell about their work to increase our understanding of pluripotency and how stem cell biology works. Full story


Kavli Nanoscience Institute at the California Institute of Technology.  Following a TEDx conference at Caltech on the future of nanoscience, KNI co-director Michael Roukes will co-chair a Kavli Futures Symposium on Jan. 15 that delves even more deeply into the topic. (See newsletter feature.)

Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago. The American Physical Society has elected KICP director Michael S. Turner vice president as of Jan. 1, 2011. The election puts Turner in line to serve later as president-elect, president, and then past-president in  successive years. Turner will become the first astrophysicist to serve as APS president.

Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at UCSD. Terrence J. Sejnowski, faculty member and executive committee member of KIBM, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Sejnowski's work on neural networks helped spark the neural networks revolution in computing in the 1980s. ... KIBM will administer a $1 million gift from the W.M. Keck Foundation to UC San Diego -- a gift aimed at helping to fund cutting-edge neural systems research. Ralph Greenspan, lead research scientist and associate director at KIBM, will oversee laboratory operations for the project. ... Ann-Shyn Chiang, Tsing Hua Chair Professor at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, has been named KIBM's first International Faculty which is reserved for prominent scientists who have a substantive connection with KIBM, either as collaborators or as participants in its research programs. 

Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscience, Cornell University. Michal Lipson received a 2010 MacArthur Fellowship -- often referred to as a MacArthur "Genius" Grant. A joint interview with Lipson and MIT MacArthur grant recipient Nergis Mavalvala is featured in this newsletter.

Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at MIT. Nergis Mavalvala received a 2010 MacArthur Fellowship -- often referred to as a MacArthur "Genius" Grant. A joint interview with Mavalvala and Cornell's MacArthur grant recipient Michal Lipson is featured in this newsletter. ... How are scientists increasing their odds of detecting an Earthlike planet?  In a recent three-part series, MIT explored its researchers' roles in the quest to find an Earth twin and the effort to make sense of the 500 exoplanets that have been discovered since 1995.

Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology, Harvard University. David Weitz, co-director of KIBST and an expert in the physics of soft condensed matter and an entrepreneur, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.  

Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University. KIBS Director Eric Kandel received the 2010 Catcher in the Rye Humanitarian Award from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and was named an Honorary Member of the Brazilian Academy of Medicine. ... KIBS Investigator Larry Abbott received the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience. ... The 33rd Annual W. Alden Spencer Award, sponsored by the KIBS, was awarded jointly to Larry Zipursky, Professor of Biological Chemistry and HHMI Investigator, UCLA; and Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Executive Vice President of Research and Chief Scientific Officer at Genentech, Inc.

  Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, UCSB. Lars Bildsten, a permanent member of KITP, was awarded the Wayne Rosing, Simon and Diana Raab Chair in Theoretical Astrophysics in recognition of his pioneering contributions to the discipline. The endowed chair was established recently with a combined $1 million gift from the donors and "will advance research and discovery at the endless frontier of theoretical astrophysics, continuously and richly expanding our understanding of the universe," stated UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang.

Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology. Henny Zandbergen has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant of 2.5 million euros for his research into improved microscopic technologies. The ERC Advanced Grant is awarded by the EU to scientists of exceptional standing.

Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, NTNU. KISN Co-Director May-Britt Moser has been selected as one of four Norwegian researchers to receive the 2010 ERC Advanced Grant. Moser's grant will fund a broad research program ranging from the basic phenomenology of the transition between hippocampal representations, to the role of gamma-oscillations, thalamic activity and anatomy and development.

Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. The Times of London named KICC director George Efstathiou among Britain's top 100 scientists, noting that Efstathiou and his team have provided some of the first evidence that dark energy does exist.