The Kavli Foundation
Vol. 6, Issue 3  2013
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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:
UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab Announce the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute

Newest Kavli Institute will explore the basic science of how to capture and channel energy on the molecular or nanoscale.
The Kavli Foundation has endowed a new institute at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to explore the basic science of how to capture and channel energy on the molecular or nanoscale, with the potential for discovering new ways of generating energy for human use. 


The Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute (Kavli ENSI) will be supported by a $20 million endowment, with The Kavli Foundation providing $10 million and UC Berkeley raising equivalent matching funds. The Kavli Foundation will also provide additional start-up funds for the institute. The Kavli ENSI will explore fundamental issues in energy science, using cutting-edge tools and techniques developed to study and manipulate nanomaterials - stuff with dimensions 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair - to understand how solar, heat or vibrational energy are captured and converted into useful work by plants and animals or novel materials. Read press release  



Kavli ENSI Directors  

Roundtable with Kavli ENSI Director Paul Alivisatos, and Co-Directors Omar Yaghi and Peidong Yang  


The Kavli Foundation brought together the institute's director, Paul Alivisatos, and its co-directors, Omar Yaghi and Peidong Yang, to discuss the Kavli ENSI's goals, and the emerging science of energy conversion at the nanoscale.  Read roundtable discussion  


Black Holes: How New Insights Are Challenging Our View of the Universe

Recently, the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics convened a conference called "Massive Black Holes: Birth, Growth and Impact," bringing together a diverse group of scientists to discuss a range of new issues, including how the latest theoretical predictions fit with new observational data about supermassive black holes.

Beginning with a special roundtable held during the conference, below are three discussions about the latest thinking on black holes- from how supermassive black holes first formed to a new theory about what it might mean to fall into one.

Black Holes Revisited: Q&A with Andrea Merloni, Priyamvada Natarajan, Tommaso Treu and John Wise.
On the last day of the conference, four presenters joined a  roundtable discussion about the latest
insights in the field.

Black Holes & Our Cosmic Evolution: Webcast with Roger Blandford, Priyamvada Natarajan, and John Wise.
During a live webcast, viewers asked questions about supermassive black holes, their role in shaping galaxies and clusters of galaxies, and the biggest questions keeping them and other astrophysicists busy.
Falling into a Black Hole: Webcast with Raphael Bousso, Juan Maldacena, Joseph Polchinski and Leonard Susskind
What happens when you fall into a black hole? During a live webcast, viewers asked questions about how some new ideas are prompting researchers to reconsider our understanding of the universe. 


What are the Origins of Math?


Origins of Math The recent discovery of the Higgs boson particle, which was predicted by mathematical formulas, shows the power of math to describe and predict the world around us--from the helical structure of DNA and the spirals of galaxies, to how rapidly epidemics spread and our universe expands. But is that because everything in our world is inherently mathematical and follows precise rules? Or do we tend to see mathematical patterns everywhere because of the way our brains impose an orderly overlay on what we experience?


To explore this debate, the Foundation led a discussion with:

"Many mathematicians feel that they don't invent mathematical structures." said Max Tegmark. "They just discover them - that these mathematical structures exist independently of humans."  Full story 


SPOTLIGHT LIVE: The Brain or the Universe - Where Does Math Come From? With Brian Butterworth, Rafael N˙˝ez and Max Tegmark View webcast 




Language Development & Babies


Recently a study provided scientific proof that babies can remember specific sounds and perhaps words first encountered in the womb. But what exactly is an unborn baby hearing and remembering, and how can we find out how this may influence a child's early development? 


In September, three researchers  - Eino Partanen, the University of Helsinki and lead author of the recent study; Jeff Elman, the Kavli Institute for Brain & Mind at the University of California, San Diego; and Christine Moon, Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington - answered questions about this new study, early language development, and the making of memories in the womb. View webcast 


Neuroscience News


Introducing the Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute



Nature expends energy lavishly but rarely squanders it. From photosynthesis and building proteins to virus replication and muscle contraction, her processes are efficient, some remarkably so. Yet they occur so quickly and at such infinitesimally small scales that until recently, researchers could discern only their barest outlines. The Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was founded to bring these details into the sharpest focus. Read feature story  



Spotlight Live: The Science of Cooking 

Some of the world's best chefs joined a team of scientists to reveal the science behind cooking in a free online course offered by Harvard University called "Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science." Created in collaboration with Ferran AdriÓ of the famed restaurant elBulli, the course explored how some truly incredible dishes are made possible through science. Watch a recording of the live webcast with renowned Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and Harvard's Michael Brenner (KIBST) and Pia S÷rensen as they answered questions about the science of cooking. Watch webcast 


Nanoscience News  


A New Baby Picture of the Universe 


The anisotropies of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) as observed by Planck.  (Credits: ESA and the Planck Collaboration)
The anisotropies of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) as observed by Planck. (Credits: ESA and the Planck Collaboration)

This spring, humanity was shown its most detailed map of the early universe ever created. Generated by observations from the Planck spacecraft, the map shows fluctuations in temperature in the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang - the moment when space and time came into existence nearly 14 billion years ago. Recently, scientists on the Planck team spoke with the Foundation about the latest findings. The participants:

  • George Efstathiou - Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge (KICC), and one of the leaders of the Planck project.
  • Anthony Lasenby - Deputy Director of KICC. Dr. Lasenby is a member of the Planck Core Team, a co-investigator for the spacecraft's High Frequency Instrument, and member of the Planck Editorial Board.
  • Krzysztof Gorski - Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and a co-Investigator of the Low Frequency Instrument on board Planck.

Read roundtable discussion 



Spotlight Live: A New Baby Picture of the Universe - With George Efstathiou, Anthony Lasenby and Krzysztof Gorski.  Watch webcast 


Revealing Dark Energy's Hold on the Universe


In early 2014, a project called SuMIRe, or Subaru Measurement of Images and Redshifts, will begin a five-year survey photographing a few billion galaxies and measuring the distances for a few million of them. Meanwhile, another project called ACTPol will use the Cosmic Microwave Background - the afterglow radiation of the Big Bang and the oldest light in the universe - to also detect galaxies and galaxy clusters deep in space and far back in time. Together, data from both projects are expected to help reveal how dark energy has caused the universe to expand over cosmic time.


Three members of the collaboration spoke recently with The Kavli Foundation in a roundtable discussion about the ACTPol/SuMIRe partnership, dark energy and their future research plans.

  • Michael Niemack - an assistant professor of physics at Cornell University and a leading team member of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) and ACTPol teams.
  • David Spergel - a theoretical astrophysicist and professor at Princeton University, and leader of the ACTPol analysis team.
  • Masahiro Takada - a professor at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) and a leading team member of the Institute's research program, SuMIRe.

Read roundtable discussion 



Spotlight Live: Dark Energy: On the Brink of Discovery? With Joshua Frieman, Michael Niemack and Marcelle Soares-Santos Watch webcast   


Astrophysics News

Life Sciences Ideation Competition

A new ideation competition has been announced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, The Kavli Foundation, the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, the John Templeton Foundation, and the W. M. Keck Foundation.

Titled "Identifying Revolutionary Platform Technologies for Advancing Life Sciences Research," the competition seeks to identify exceptional ideas for revolutionary platform technologies  that could lead to breakthrough advances in the broadly defined life sciences. The deadline for entries is December 11, with winners to be announced in February 2014. Winners will receive monetary awards of up to $40,000. Applicants also have the chance to make their ideas visible to funding sources.

Information and more detailed language about the challenge can be found here.
* * *

LIVE NOVEMBER 18:  Learn more about the competition during a webinair hosted by Robbie Barbero, OSTP, and Maria Pellegrini, the W. M. Keck Foundation. 

Announcement of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute
Special Section: Black Holes
Neuroscience News
Nanoscience News
Astrophysics News
Foundations Launch Ideation Competition
2014 Kavli Prize Call for Nominations
BRAIN Intiative: Surviving the Data Deluge
Community News

2014 Kavli Prize   

Call for Nominations    

The 2014 Kavli Prize call for nominations is open, with December 1 as the final date for submitting nominations. The winners of the 2014 Kavli Prizes will be announced next spring. The award ceremony will take place in Oslo, Norway on September 9, 2014.

Information and instructions for submitting 2014 Kavli Prize nominations are available at the Kavli Prize website. For nominations page, click here.

Millie Dresselhaus  Kavli Prize Symposium
and Lecture


At the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. a day-long symposium in honor of 2012 Kavli Prize Laureate Mildred Dresselhaus brought together nanoscience leaders to discuss the cutting edge of research in graphene, nanotubes, quantum materials, cloaking, and biological nanoscience. Among the featured speakers: KIBST co-director Joanna Aizenberg (Harvard University),  Kavli ENSI director Paul Alivisatos (UC Berkeley), Ching-Hwa Kiang (Rice University), Philip Kim (Columbia University), KIC member Michal Lipson (Cornell University), KNI co-director Nai-Chang Yeh (CalTech), and Alex Zettl (UC Berkeley).  For the closing lecture by Mildred Dresselhaus, click here

The BRAIN Initiative
Surviving the Data Deluge

null By mapping the activity of neurons in the brain, an important aspect of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, researchers hope to discover fundamental insights into how the mind develops and functions, as well as new ways to address horrific brain diseases and trauma.


Yet before researchers can even begin taking their first measurements, they must face up to an unusual challenge: deciding how to handle the torrent of data this project is expected to generate.


The Kavli Foundation's 10th Kavli Futures Symposium, "Data Deluge from the Brain Activity Map," brought together 18 top academic, university, and government brain and big data experts to sort through these issues. Read more

community-newsCommunity News


Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford (KIPAC). In September, KIPAC celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary with a four-day conference that brought together about 200 researchers across the fields of cosmology, high energy astrophysics, ground and space-based astronomy, and particle physics. The goal: to educate each other about the progress made in the past ten years, and to engage on the outstanding questions that define the challenges and opportunities of the coming decade.


Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge (KICC).

Director George Efstathiou has received  the NEMITSAS Prize of 2013, which honors top scientists of Cypriot origins which this year was awarded in the research field of physics. Presented during a ceremony by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, the prize recognizes how "Efstathiou's seminal advances have shaped our understanding of the Universe and have strongly contributed to the standard model of cosmology."


Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (KISN). Director Edvard Moser received a 2.5M Euro ERC Advanced Investigator Grant. The principal objective of the new research project is to decipher the principles of network organization in a high-end cortical system. ...Co-Director May-Britt Moser was awarded the Madame Beyer award by the Trondheim Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes brilliant female business leaders, in an era when they remain in a minority. The award is meant to be an inspiration for female leaders, and a recognition of superb leadership. ... Jonathan Whitlock was awarded a 1.5 M euro start-up grant to set up a research group on mirror cells in rats at the Kavli Institute. By bringing mirror cells to rats he shall take the first steps to understanding their circuit properties. The grant was awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) as part of its Starting Grant competition. 


Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo (Kavli IPMU). Mark Hartz has been selected to hold a joint research position newly created by the Kavli IPMU and TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics. Hartz carries out the full range of duties for a research scientist at both Kavli IPMU and TRIUMF, as well as represents both institutes at the national and international levels. ...The 2013 Mathematics Society of Japan Geometry Prize was awarded to Toshitake Kohno, a Kavli IPMU Principal Investigator, for "a series of works in geometric representation theory for quantum groups."


Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University (KIBS). Director Eric Kandel was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. ...Co-Director Tom Jessell was awarded the 2013 Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience from MIT's McGovern Institute, for his pioneering work on synaptic plasticity. ...Xiaoyin (Robert) Chen was selected the winner of the annual award for Distinguished Research in Neuroscience.   


Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science (KIC). The world's thinnest sheet of glass, identified in the lab of KIC's Co-Director David Muller, has been officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. ...In the summer 2013 issue of Discover Magazine, Director Paul McEuen gave a Q&A on advances in nanotechnology. ...Nobel laureate and founding director of KIC Robert C. Richardson was honored in a memorial service in July. 


Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago (KICP).  KICP hosted a three-day workshop conducted by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. With Alan Alda also presenting and instructing, over 60 scientists participated in the workshop.    


Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology (KIND). Teun Klapwijk was appointed Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion for his pioneering and leading academic work on superconductors. ...Hannes Bernien wins the EPJ Young Speakers Contest at Fysica 2013 with his talk entitled "Quantum entanglement over 3 meters." 


Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at MIT (MKI).  Sara Seager was awarded a MacArthur "genius grant." The MacArthur Foundation cited Seager for "quickly advancing a subfield initially viewed with skepticism by the scientific community. A mere hypothesis until the mid-1990s, nearly 900 exoplanets in more than 600 planetary systems have since been identified, with thousands of more planet candidates known."  


Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at UCSD (KIBM).  Co-Director Nick Spitzer has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors bestowed on U.S. scientists and engineers.    


Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University, Beijing, China (KIAA).  KIAA is inviting applications for KIAA Postdoctoral Fellowships.


Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale University (KIN).   The journal Neuron, in celebration of its 25th anniversary, invited KIN Director Pasko Rakic and colleague Daniel Geschwind of UCLA to discuss the genetic and morphological changes over 300 million years of mammalian evolution that led to the human brain.