ICTP and three other Italian science organizations have signed an agreement to form a new institute dedicated to the exploration of the fundamental laws of nature from a cosmological and astrophysical perspective.
The Institute for Fundamental Physics of the Universe (IFPU) was inaugurated on 2 October 2018 by its four founding members: ICTP; the International School for Advanced Studeies (SISSA); Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF); and Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN).
The ceremony was held at SISSA’s Miramare campus, located next to ICTP, in its Main Lecture Hall (and was recorded). The campus is where IFPU will be located. The ceremony included a keynote address, titled “A remarkable interaction: fundamental physics, astrophysics, and cosmology”, by George Ellis, distinguished scientist and Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town.
IFPU will host and promote a vigorous and innovative multidisciplinary research programme, with the goal to promote synergy between groups separated by geographical and cultural barriers. Recent discoveries such as the accelerated expansion of the universe, the Higgs boson and gravitational waves, have been associated to high-precision observations of the cosmic microwave background conducted by the Planck satellite and to the detailed large-scale mapping of the structure of the universe. These developments highlight the need to unite different communities for a renewed dialogue between theory and observations.
“ICTP enjoys a long history of exploring the mysteries of the universe,” says ICTP Director Fernando Quevedo, explaining, “This history goes back to ICTP founder Abdus Salam and his Nobel-winning research on the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles.” He adds, “Cosmology and astroparticle physics remain two of the most exciting areas in physics today. We are pleased to be joining forces with SISSA, INAF and INFN to continue this journey of discovery in a multidisciplinary way.”
“I think it is important to underline the highly interdisciplinary approach this institute will have in collecting and understanding data, gathered using innovative algorithms. This is one of its strong points,” says SISSA Director Stefano Ruffo.
The institute will start with the intellectual contribution of researchers from the four founding members. Positions for post-doctorates and the participation of PhD students and visiting foreign scientists are already envisaged. IFPU aims to extend and consolidate international collaborations, an essential step to pursue major present and future projects connected with the discovery of space.
INAF President Nicolò D’Amico adds, “We are honoured to be part of this new scientific collaboration. IFPU’s goal is extraordinarily ambitious, but I am convinced that the synergy of excellence involved will allow to reach equally extraordinary results, to unveil how our universe is made and how it ‘functions’.”
Fernando Ferroni, president of INFN, concludes, “Until now, the dark side of the universe has resisted every attempt to penetrate its mysteries. This initiative, which proposes to unite valid experimentalists and theorists of different research institutes to design new ways to deal with the problem is therefore a significant event and harbinger of important progress.”