The Kavli Foundation
NewsletterVol. 5, Issue 2 2012
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 Kavli Prize
prizeAnnouncement of the
2012 Kavli Prize Laureates


LIVE WEBCAST from the Norwegian Academy of Science & Letters, Oslo, and the World Science Festival, New York City

Date: May 31
Time: 8:15-10:00am EDT

Brian Greene, Co-Founder, World Science Festival

Opening Remarks
John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

Announcement of the 2012 Kavli Prize Laureates

* Presentation by Nils Chr. Stenseth, President,
  Norwegian Academy of Science & Letters

* Remarks by Kavli Prize Committee Chairs


The Big, the Small and the Complex: Visions of the Future 

* Angela Belcher, Nanoscience

* Thomas Jessell, Neuroscience

* Claire Max, Astrophysics

* Elizabeth Vargas, ABC News Anchor, Moderator


Live and Online Q&A


Program details and webcast information 



NeurospotNomads of the Galaxy  

Nomad planet
An artistic rendition of a nomad object wandering the interstellar medium. (Image by Greg Stewart/SLAC)

Earlier this year, news broke that astronomers have estimated an almost incomprehensible number of planets drifting through interstellar space and unbound to any star. The Kavli Foundation spoke recently with two of the authors of the new nomad planets study, as well a leading researcher in the search for planets and life beyond Earth:   

In the dialogue, the scientists discuss what this might mean, whether a nomad planet could drift close to our solar system, and how it is possible for a nomad planet to sustain life.

"If you imagine the Earth as it is today becoming a nomad planet... life on Earth is not going to cease. That we know. It's not even speculation at this point," explains Sasselov. "[Scientists] already have identified a large number of microbes and even two types of nematodes that survive entirely on the heat that comes from inside the Earth." Full story

Strigari Live Q&A



AstrospotNTNU's Kavli Directors Open the Norwegian Brain Centre 

Mosers-Prime Minister Norway
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, officially opens The Norwegian Brain Centre. (Courtesy: NTNU)

The Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience (KISN) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim was recently joined by a new Norwegian Brain Centre at Trondheim. KISN's co-directors, Edvard and May-Britt Moser, established after receiving a 5.6 million euros grant from the Norwegian Research Council. The Centre will be one of the largest of its kind worldwide.  


"The Norwegian Brain Centre will include approaches that will take steps toward clinical applications, whereas the focus of the Kavli Institute within it will always be basic research," said Edvard Moser. "That's our mission -- we want to understand how the brain works. But we also want to communicate that to people who can use it to understand diseases."  


After the Centre officially opened, the Mosers spoke to The Kavli Foundation about how the new facility will greatly expand their research capabilities, foster more training and research collaborations, and help them and others make the leap from animal to human studies of spatial navigation and memory. Full story 


NanospotFighting Cancer with Nanotechnology     

cancer cells
Cancer cells in culture from human connective tissue. (Credit: National Cancer Institute/Cecil Fox)
Imagine a test that sifts through millions of molecules in a drop of a patient's blood to detect a telltale protein signature of a cancer subtype. Or a drug ferry that doesn't release its toxic contents until it slips inside cancer cells.


These innovations and more are currently available and are being tested, due to advances in nanotechnology. To explore how nanotechnology is likely to be a game changer in the cancer arena, The Kavli Foundation held a teleconference with four pioneers in cancer nanotechnologies:

  • Anna Barker - Former deputy director of the National Cancer Institute and currently director of Arizona State University's Transformative Healthcare Networks;  
  • Mark E. Davis - Professor of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and a member of the Experimental Therapeutics Program of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the City of Hope;
  • James Heath - Professor of Chemistry at Caltech and a founding Board member of Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Institute;
  • Michael Phelps - Norton Simon Professor, and Chair of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles.  
"Nanotechnology is an amazing discovery tool. It's giving us a new set of eyes that are opening up a whole new world," said Heath. "All evidence suggests that when you do careful engineering of these nanotechnologies, the benefits are great." Full story



First Light From a Super-Earth Detected
Data from the Spitzer Space Telescope reveals that 55 Cancri e is very dark, and that its sun-facing side is blistering hot. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Scientists on a planetary heat-seeking mission have detected the first infrared light from a super-Earth -- in this case, a planet some 40 light-years away. And according to their calculations, 55 Cancri e, a planet just over twice the size of Earth, is throwing off some serious heat.


At a toasty 3,700 degrees Fahrenheit, the planet is hot enough to liquefy steel. And there's not much relief from the scorching heat; researchers at MIT and other institutions say the planet may lack reflective surfaces such as ice caps, instead absorbing most of the heat from its parent star -- much as Earth's dark oceans trap heat from the sun. Full story


More Astrophysics News

Nanoscientists Find Long-Sought Majorana Particle
The device is made of an Indium antimonide nanowire. The Majorana fermions are created at the end of the Nanowire. (Courtesy: Delft University)


Scientists at the  Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Delft at the Delft University of Technology and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter have succeeded for the first time in detecting a Majorana particle. In the 1930s, the brilliant Italian physicist Ettore Majorana deduced from quantum theory the possibility of the existence of a very special particle, a particle that is its own anti-particle: the Majorana fermion. That 'Majorana' would be right on the border between matter and anti-matter. Researchers managed to create a nanoscale electronic device in which a pair of Majorana fermions 'appear' at either end of a nanowire. Full story  


More Nanoscience News 

Follow us on Twitter

2012 Kavli Prize Announcements
Spotlight: Nomads of the Galaxy
Spotlight: Opening of Norwegian Brain Centre
Spotlight: Fighting Cancer with Nanotechnology
Astrophysics News
Nanoscience News
Vist with Japan Prime Minister Noda
BrainFacts.Org Launched
Kavli Video Winners Announced
Neuroscience News
Fred Kavli - Prime Minister Noda
Fred Kavli and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (Courtesy: Kavli IPMU)
primeminJapan's Prime Minister Welcomes Foundation and New Institute


In early May, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda welcomed to his office The Kavli Foundation and the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) at the University of Tokyo. They were also greeted by Minister Hirofumi Hirano of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology

The visit took place as the University of Tokyo celebrated the naming of the Kavli IPMU, which seeks answers to deeply profound questions in cosmology.

Full story and video  


Click screen image to visit BrainFacts.Org. Launches, a Web site just launched by the Society for Neuroscience, offers a new way for people of all ages to learn more about how the brain works, how it drives thought and behavior, and its role in brain diseases and disorders.

A public information initiative of The Kavli Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), features nearly 1,000 accessible, scientifically reviewed resources about the brain and mind. Full story


Bill Nye and Video Winners 2012
Bill Nye "the Science Guy" presents certificates to the winners of the 2012 USA Science & Engineering Kavli Science Video Contest.

 videocont2012 USA Science & Engineering Kavli Science Video Winners Announced  


The winners of the 2012 USA Science & Engineering Kavli Science Video Contest "Save the World Through Science & Engineering" video contest, were announced  at the 2nd USA Science & Engineering Festival.The video contest received over 260 entries from the US and overseas, with students proposing innovative solutions for new sources of energy, access to clean water, robotics, biotechnology, urban planning, and transportation. The winners were awarded in a ceremony hosted by Bill Nye, as part of the festival. View videos  



Evolution's Gift May Also Be at the Root of a Form of Autism


A recently evolved pattern of gene activity in the language and decision-making centers of the human brain is missing in a disorder associated with autism and learning disabilities, a new study by Yale University researchers shows.


"This is the cost of being human," said Nenad Sestan, associate professor of neurobiology, researcher at Yale's Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, and senior author of the paper. "The same evolutionary mechanisms that may have gifted our species with amazing cognitive abilities have also made us more susceptible to psychiatric disorders such as autism."


The findings are reported in the May 11 issue of the journal Cell. Full story  



National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  Donald Eigler, 2010 Kavli Prize Laureate in Nanoscience, and Matthew Fisher, member of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC, Santa Barbara, have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Eigler is also among 16 NAS Kavli Frontiers of Science alumni to be elected.

Eighty-four new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries received the honor in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. ...The NAS Kavli Frontiers of Science program has entered into a new partnership with Israel to strengthen scientific and technological collaboration between American and Israeli researchers. The new symposium series is co-organized by the two academies and is supported by funds from The Kavli Foundation, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.  


Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University (KIBS).  Co-Director Thomas Jessell was a recipient of the prestigious 2012 Canada Gairdner International Awards in recognition of his contributions to medical science. The awards, which are presented annually, recognize scientists responsible for some of the world's most significant medical discoveries. Jessell received his award "for research in defining the genetic and molecular pathways leading to the complex development of the spinal cord, with implications for therapeutic applications."    


Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MKI).  Sara Seager was named by Tel Aviv University as co-winner of the 2012 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences. Seager was cited for her "brilliant theoretical studies, including analysis of the atmospheres and internal compositions of extra-solar planets." ...Scott Hughes, Associate Professor of Physics and also an MKI faculty member, received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his project on "the astrophysics of ultra-strong gravity."  Before joining the MIT faculty in 2003, Scott was a postdoc at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.    


Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology (KIND).  KIND director Cees Dekker received the 2012 ISNSCE Nanoscience Prize, which recognizes and encourages outstanding research in all areas of nanoscience. The yearly prize is awarded by the International Society of Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Computation. Dekker received the award "in recognition of outstanding discoveries and contributions to the field of (biomolecular) nanoscale science and nanotechnology."


Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics China at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KITPC).  KITPC's outreach program was inaugurated in March. The new program promotes the interaction between research and teaching, scientific research and popularization, contributing to the education and talent training course of China. As part of the program, popular scientific lectures will be established for students and educators in middle schools, high schools and universities in Beijing. . ...In April, Prof. Żivind Andersen, Member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and Secretary General of the Norwegian Academy, visited KITPC and gave a lecture entitled "Speculations about nature (physics) amongst the Early Greeks."


Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago (KICP).  KICP's traveling exhibit on the South Pole was on display at the US Science & Engineering Festival, and it will also be at the upcoming World Science Festival, New York. Titled "100 Years of Exploration @ South Pole: From Survival to Science," it was produced by a studio class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Deputy director John Carlstrom will also be at the World Science Festival, participating in a program that is part of "The Big, the Small and the Complex; A Series Exploring the Latest Developments in Astrophysics, Nanoscience and Neuroscience, fields recognized by the Kavli Prizes."