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Photos of Perimeter Institute's new facility

  1. Oct 17, 2004 #1
    To view some nice photos of Perimeter Institute's new building that were taken on its official opening day (Oct 2/2004) see:


    Perimeter Institute is located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. More specifically, the new facility is located in uptown Waterloo adjacent to Waterloo Park, and is within walking distance to the University of Waterloo.



    My impression is that those who are lucky enough to work there, have died and gone to heaven.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2004 #2


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    I must not be as big a physics junkie as I thought - I never heard of the place before. Looking it up on the web, for familiar names, I see Lee Smolin is one of their long term researchers, which is pretty impressive.
  4. Oct 17, 2004 #3
    Great place, I just came back from Toronto, and was gutted I missed out on some of the public lectures held there.

    P.S. is that an Inca 'totum-pole' I see bedded into the macromedia star-cluster image on the link you provided? link:http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/?lang=en
  5. Oct 17, 2004 #4


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  6. Oct 17, 2004 #5
    Going through the list of seminars, one can not get any audio or slides..in fact no such online acess exists, for instance:http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/ac...ries/alltalks.cfm?CurrentPage=8&SeminarID=262

    Poor show real for such a modern facility! when compared to the amount of online lectures/seminars available on the world-wide-web at 'less prestidious?' institutes.
  7. Oct 17, 2004 #6


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  8. Oct 17, 2004 #7
    That's an excellent question because I never even noticed any totem pole before. You may be right, but I really don't know.
  9. Oct 17, 2004 #8
    Not really a fair comment; it's a very new institute. I've read lots of slides from their lectures and listened to audio as well. You just have to give them a little time to put the files on their server. If slides were never provided by a guest lecturer, would that be Perimeter's fault?

    Here are slides and audio from one lecture (and there are many others):

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2004
  10. Oct 17, 2004 #9
    Sincere Apologies, it was vented out of pure frustration at not being able to participate!..there may have been an element of envy also, again I retract all of my unfair comment.
  11. Oct 17, 2004 #10
    I actually think its a collarge of Inca and Aztec?..really interesting, I cant find any credits to the artist/wizzard?
  12. Oct 18, 2004 #11
    Lee Smolin is one of Perimeter Institute's founding physicists, and I believe he brought one or two others with him when he moved to Waterloo. Lee clearly has had a lot of influence on who Perimeter hires and how it is governed on a day-to-day basis. He is much more than just some high-profile scientist who merely happens to work there - Smolin has helped mold the culture of that institute into what is it today.

    Here's an article from the Toronto Star that may be of some interest:

    Oct. 2, 2004. 01:00 AM

    Raising the value of research

    Mike Lazaridis wants to educate Canadians about the importance of science So, he's pledged millions on an institute for pure research, writes Peter Calamai


    WATERLOO—Even Mike Lazaridis, the BlackBerry entrepreneur, was a little awed by the futuristic new home for his bold dream to transform how Canadians think about science and how the world regards Canada's research prowess.
    On a tour last week with a visitor, Lazaridis for the first time saw the building's eye-popping south wall stripped of the protective paper that had hidden the stunning geometric patterns created by reflecting black panels.
    "It's really something, isn't it?" he said of the $25 million headquarters of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which has its gala opening this weekend.
    That comment is being echoed by a lot of people who haven't yet seen the new three-storey building, with its rooftop bistro, tubular glass passageways, six wood-burning fireplaces in cozy lounges, soaring atrium over a garden and blackboards on the walls every few metres so that no brilliant idea is lost.
    Instead, those people are referring to Lazaridis's vision in creating the institute through his $100 million donation, plus the impact Perimeter has already had in its three years' existence with a handful of senior researchers working out of funky temporary quarters.
    "The whole atmosphere for science changes when someone does something like this," says Chaviva Hosek, chief executive of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) in Toronto and a policy adviser to Jean Chrétien when he was prime minister. "Mike Lazaridis has broadened people's imagination, both about what's possible and about what's important to do."
    Like Perimeter, CIAR concentrates on supporting fundamental science that's geared primarily toward expanding human knowledge without obvious practical applications in sight. That's also the focus of Artur Ekert, a pioneer in quantum physics and member of Perimeter's science advisory board.
    "I see a vibrant pioneering atmosphere there with people who are aware that something exciting is being created. It's not an exaggeration to say that Perimeter could be Number 1 or Number 2 in the world," says Ekert, a professor at the University of Cambridge.
    That's number 1 or 2 in some of the six challenging aspects of theoretical physics where Perimeter is concentrating its intellectual firepower: quantum gravity, string theory, quantum information theory, quantum mechanics and, soon, cosmology and elementary particle physics (see Glossary).
    Yet, researchers working at Perimeter have already published more than 100 scientific papers that include notable contributions in some of these more rarefied realms of physics (see Achievements). As well, leading physicists from around the world constantly course like an electric current through the institute as invited visitors, energizing both themselves and Perimeter's resident thinkers.
    "The existence of Perimeter has enabled interesting work to happen. People are inspired when they come here," says executive-director Howard Burton.
    Lazaridis wants that inspiration to go well beyond the realm of theoretical physics.
    His dream is for the institute to contribute to fundamental scientific discoveries that eventually transform the world and also convince Canadians and their elected leaders to put a much higher value on such basic research. In pursuit of that goal, the institute runs an extensive outreach program, including public lectures and a summer physics school for Grade 11 students from Canada and abroad.
    "I'm interested in the education of our society about the importance of science," Lazaridis says. "There is no shortage of mysteries, unknowns and adventures when it comes to science. And no shortage of value for deciphering those mysteries and exploring those unknowns."
    On the value of basic science, Lazaridis speaks with millions of dollars of authority. As the founder of Research In Motion Ltd. here, the University of Waterloo dropout used technology derived from basic science to create the wireless BlackBerry e-mail device.
    As a successful entrepreneur, Lazaridis has been openly critical of what he considers the shameful underinvestment by governments in basic science. He's even attacked the keystone of the federal innovation strategy: increased commercialization of university research.
    Yet, he's done more than criticize. Four years ago, Lazaridis pledged $100 million in his own RIM stock to endow the Perimeter Institute, with fellow RIM executives Doug Fregin and Jim Balsillie adding $10 million apiece.

    But even a $120 million endowment wasn't going to generate enough annual income to erect a headquarters and pay the 130 people who will eventually work here, including 80 scientists, about 25 administrative staff and 30 graduate students. (Currently, the institute has 40 research scientists and 15 graduate students.) So, Lazaridis and Burton turned to the federal and provincial governments for funds.
    Inside the federal bureaucracy, finance department officials opposed grants to Perimeter, arguing that it would create a bad precedent if wealthy private donors set national research priorities.
    Yet, Lazaridis's dream found support from the heads of federal science agencies, like Tom Brzustowski, president of Science and Engineering Research Canada.
    "It was exactly the sort of precedent we should encourage," Brzustowski says. "When you've got a concentration of very bright people, good things usually emerge. But governments today don't seem to have the patience for that."
    Eventually, Ottawa and Queen's Park ponied up $54 million, with $11.2 million earmarked for the building. The major federal operating grant, $25 million over five years, was announced in 2002 by Chrétien when he turned sod for the new building.
    The former PM's brother, noted medical researcher Michel Chrétien, is known as a strong proponent of more money for basic research. Dr. Chrétien's name nestles among the list of eminent physicists, local dignitaries and government officials invited here to Perimeter's official ribbon-cutting.
    Michel Chrétien won't talk about lobbying his brother on Perimeter's behalf. But he does argue strenuously that major medical advances depend upon a marriage of physics and the biological sciences, and he ardently praises Lazaradis's own thirst for knowledge and commitment to maximum intellectual freedom for the institute's researchers.
    "Mike has concluded that academic freedom is the name of the game for people to know more. And he's created an institute where people have that freedom," Chrétien says.
    Not only do Perimeter's scientists have far greater freedom to follow their intellectual curiosity than all but a handful of university professors, they also wield a major say in the running of the Institute, modelled on a "community of scholars."
    Perimeter's nine long-term researchers, here on renewable contracts for five to seven years, have to approve any recommendation to the institute's board to hire another one of their ilk.
    "We're going very carefully, very slowly in the hiring," says Lee Smolin, a high-profile pioneer in quantum gravity and, at 49, among the oldest researchers at Perimeter.

    This deliberate pace is dictated by the special culture that the institute is creating through its hiring choices — researchers who actually practise interdisciplinary co-operation, who represent competing approaches to problems and who are eager to take intellectual risks.
    "We're interested in people who are going for the biggest things. We're not interested in me-too science," Smolin says.
    Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara is a living example of how Perimeter's deliberate culture of challenging inquiry helps shape research. When she joined the Institute three years ago, her chief interests were in a field called loop quantum gravity.
    But the institute operates an active program for visiting researchers, who stay from a week to more than a year. In particular, Perimeter sought physicists who specialize in the foundations of quantum theory, an area of study largely neglected elsewhere. And the institute's culture encourages discussion in which no line of questioning is off limits, even those challenging basic assumptions.
    "Because of that, I'm actually starting to know what that field is all about and have become interested in working on programs that combine our fields," she says.
    Experiences like that have probably contributed to Ekert's judgment that the Perimeter Institute has reached critical mass even before this weekend's celebrations.
    "I think Perimeter is here to stay. It's going to fly," the physicist says.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2004
  13. Oct 18, 2004 #12
    A collage of the two? Yes, it may be, but I don't know enough about Inca or Aztec art to say for sure. It's an interesting reference to historical cosmology for sure.
  14. Oct 18, 2004 #13
    Now tell me, is having a squash court in a physics institute a little over the top? I understand that the "fitness facilities" include a weight room and sauna.

    Here's the article:

    Perimeter building will be much more than a pretty face
    by Howard Burton, executive director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in

    Waterloo, KW Record February 23, 2004

    Architecture is a truly unique field -- part art, part science, part customer relations.
    The best architects have to marry bold and innovative artistic vision with a keen sense of functionality, all the while bearing in mind that satisfying the client is the ultimate litmus test of success.
    I was worried when we hired architects to design the new Perimeter Institute building in Waterloo. The scope and uniqueness of the project -- to design a state-of-the-art facility to provide the ultimate environment for theoretical physics research -- guaranteed that many top architectural firms would be interested, but I was concerned they would be preoccupied by making an artistic statement.
    I didn't want a landmark building primarily known for its architecture. I wanted a beautiful building that would set an international standard for a theoretical research environment and allow us to attract and retain the finest crop of scientists throughout the world. I needed, in short, a beautiful building that worked.
    People might be surprised by this. After all, what do theoretical physicists really need, anyway? Pencils, paper, computers, blackboards and offices. Surely there's nothing difficult or unique in that.
    But dig deeper and you quickly realize the situation is more complex.
    Natural light is extremely important. Plentiful, comfortable interaction areas, where scientists can deliberately and spontaneously meet to discuss developing ideas, are essential. Areas for quiet contemplation, calculation and reflection are equally necessary.
    In the end, there must be a harmonious balance of private spaces, quiet public spaces, formal meeting areas (such as seminar rooms and an auditorium) and informal meeting areas (lounges, open gathering spots).
    Food is vital to the creative process, almost as much as coffee. (I'm firmly convinced that several of our recent recruits were swayed by the quality of our espresso machine.)
    And for a place that will be running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, once it's completed in August, there must be diversions: games, fitness facilities, cultural activities and so forth, to recognize that many of our researchers will be effectively living within its walls for large periods of time.
    All of these concerns are reflected in the new facility under construction adjacent to Waterloo Park. The building is flooded with natural light, both from the central atrium and adjacent courtyard and the generous amount of glass throughout the building.
    There are two informal gathering areas per floor, as well as three additional lounges, a library, two seminar rooms and a lecture theatre.
    Six wood-burning fireplaces will provide ambience throughout the long Canadian winters. Each of the four floors has a separate espresso machine, while above the lecture theatre sits a bistro, complete with rooftop deck.
    On the ground floor are fitness facilities and a squash court. In addition to its primary purpose, the lecture theatre will play host to regular musical performances, while the atrium may well be ideal for rotating artistic exhibitions to provide a stimulating cultural experience for our research staff.
    Extravagant? Not by a long shot. Our challenge was simply to build the best such facility in the world, putting us on the map in the international theoretical physics arena.
    Relevant government agencies, such as Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust, hardly known for supporting frilly infrastructure projects, concurred and are strongly supporting us.
    I am delighted to report that my worst fears about architects, at least these architects, were never realized.
    Saucier & Perrotte Architects of Montreal created a facility that achieved everything in the program within a context of stunning beauty and daring innovation. Every so often, everything comes together. It's exciting to be there when it happens.
    Howard Burton is executive director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo. He is a regular contributor to the Learning section
  15. Oct 18, 2004 #14
    One area that Waterloo seems to be particularly strong in is "quantum information theory". It's one of Perimeter Institute's main areas of research and this subject is also of major interest to the nearby University of Waterloo. The University recently established an "Institute for Quantum Computing". Note that it was Waterloo billionaire Mike Lazaridis who started this institute with a $33.3 million donation on top of the $100 million donation he made to establish the Perimeter Institute. Gee, I wonder why the University of Waterloo decided to make Lazaridis their new Chancellor? :wink:




    Last edited: Oct 18, 2004
  16. Oct 19, 2004 #15
    You can now watch those public lectures over the Internet:


    See, they just needed a little time to post them.
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