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Canadian theory institute honours Stephen Hawking

19 Oct 2009 Matin Durrani
Expanding the Perimeter

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, has announced that a major new extension to the building will be known as the Stephen Hawking Centre. The extension, which is currently being built, is due to open in 2011 and will double the size of the institute. It will also provide a home for the institute’s Master’s students, the first of whom joined the Perimeter Institute this autumn as part of its Perimeter Scholars international programme.

The announcement was made on 17 October at a special ceremony in the institute’s auditorium, held to mark the theory centre’s 10th anniversary. The ceremony was attended by Mike Lazaridis, who founded the institute in 1999 using money that he had made from Research in Motion – the Waterloo-based firm that makes Blackberry handheld devices. Although Hawking himself was unable to attend as intended, he did provide a video-recorded message.

“Theoretical physics has been the most successful and cost-effective in all of science,” said Hawking. “Many great challenges lie ahead. Where this new understanding will lead is impossible to say for sure. What we can say with confidence is that expanding the perimeter of our knowledge will be the key to our future.”

10 new distinguished research chairs

The Perimeter Institute has also announced 10 new distinguished research chairs, in addition to the 10 who were unveiled earlier this year. They will be Dorit Aharonov (quantum computing), Patrick Hayden (quantum communication), Leo Kadanoff (complex systems), Chris Isham (particle theory), Renate Loll (quantum gravity), Malcolm Perry (strings), Sandu Popescu (quantum fundamentals), Bill Unruh (gravitational physics), Guifre Vidal (quantum information) and Mark Wise (particle theory). The chairs will visit the Perimeter Institute for about a month each year.

The Perimeter Institute’s research chairs are the idea of the institute’s director Neil Turok, who took over last year. Turok was previously based at Cambridge, where he was a colleague of Hawking in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. Turok told that Hawking, whom he last saw in September, appeared to be recovering well from the flu that he had suffered from earlier in the year. Hawking said in his pre-recorded message that he looked forwarding to visiting the Perimeter Institute in summer 2010.


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