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German-Japanese collaboration aims to answer fundamental physics questions


A festive ceremony in Tokyo on 8 April marked the launch of research collaboration which will be dedicated to fundamental questions in physics. The partners are the Japanese research institute RIKEN, two Max Planck Institutes, and PTB. The three partners are financing the center, which is planned for a runtime of five years, equally with a total of approximately 7.5 million euros.

(From left to right): Prof. Dr. Martin Stratmann (President of MPG), Prof. Dr. Joachim Ullrich (President of PTB), and Prof. Dr. Motoko Kotani (RIKEN’s Executive Director for International Affairs) are pleased with the opening of the center.

At this center (which is called the MPG-PTB-RIKEN Center), world-leading experimental groups stemming from atomic and nuclear physics, from antimatter research, from quantum optics and from metrology work closely together to measure time and the natural constants even more precisely with their ultra-precise apparatus. One of the open questions is whether the natural constants really are constant or whether they might change with time to a minute degree. Another open question concerns the subtle differences between the characteristics of matter and of anti-matter. Although they have not been observed yet, they must, in principle, exist. Because otherwise, the universe would practically be made up of pure radiation since the matter and anti-matter particles which were created (in equal amounts) in the Big Bang would have destroyed themselves. Closely related to this test of fundamental symmetries is the search for “new physics” beyond the standard model of elementary particle physics.