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Perimeter Institute names expansion project after Stephen Hawking


Waterloo, ON – As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) has announced that it is naming its new 55,000-sq-ft addition for the renowned Professor Stephen Hawking.

“We are delighted that Stephen has allowed his name to be associated with this expansion,” said Dr Neil Turok, PI director. “He is an inspirational figure, famous both for his cutting edge research into quantum theory and spacetime and for his excellent mentorship of young scientists. At the heart of the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute will be our world-class training program, Perimeter Scholars International, helping to prepare the next generation of brilliant theoretical physicists.”

The Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute expansion project is already underway and is being supported by an ambitious fundraising program. On the infrastructure side, $35 million has been raised or pledged from the private and public sectors for the building expansion, including over $10 million from each of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation.

And, to support its ambitious research and training program, Perimeter has recently raised $28 million toward an advancement target of $400 million over the coming years with a program called ‘Expanding the Perimeter’. The institute says it aims to secure its long-term future through its endowment efforts and the ongoing commitment of its government partners. As a centre which aspires to support the growth of theoretical physics research and training across Canada and internationally, PI aims to work collaboratively with like-minded institutional partners in its advancement initiatives.

“Perimeter Institute’s successful first decade was made possible through a unique combination of personal philanthropy and public support, from sponsors including Mike Lazaridis and the governments of Ontario and Canada,” said Dr Turok. “This excellent start provides the base for our proposed expansion, and opportunities for the participation of additional partners.

“Just one major discovery in theoretical physics is literally capable of changing the world, as when Maxwell discovered a unified description of electricity and magnetism, and Marconi applied his ideas to send the first radio signals. Or when Einstein’s new ideas about light, as tiny particles or ‘photons,’ eventually led to the laser, medical imaging equipment, CD players, and more,” he added. “Today, quantum theory is leading the way toward tomorrow’s computers and communication systems, which will vastly exceed the capabilities of current technologies. This historically proven cycle of innovation is fuelled by the foundational thinking that drives the research chain.”

Among participating speakers at the anniversary celebrations was Professor Stephen Hawking, who took part via multimedia from Cambridge, UK. “Perimeter Institute is a very exciting venture,” he said. “Its chosen scientific focus, quantum theory and space-time, is very close to my heart. I am strongly supportive of the institute’s bold expansion plans and its ambitious research and training programs.

“With a mix of excellent scientists, inspirational visitors, and first-rate students recruited from around the world, I expect exciting discoveries will be made,” he added, referring to the unique research environment at PI. “Our field of theoretical physics has been the most successful and cost-effective in all of science. Where would we be today without Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein? 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.”