To be headed by Nobel Prize Winner T.D. Lee

UPTON, NY One of Japan's premier research laboratories will soon establish a new physics research center at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.

A recent decision by the Japanese Parliament paves the way for the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) to found the RIKEN BNL Research Center at Brookhaven with $2 million in funding in 1997, an amount that is expected to grow in future years.

World-renowned physicist T.D. Lee, who won the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics for work done while visiting BNL in 1956 and is now a professor of physics at Columbia University, has been named the Center's first director.

The Department of Energy's Director of Energy Research, Martha A. Krebs, said, "This collaboration builds on a long history of scientific cooperation in the physics community. Locating a prestigious new research center at the Brookhaven National Laboratory is also a tribute to the quality of science that is carried out there."

Said BNL Director Nicholas Samios, "The RIKEN BNL Research Center will exemplify the truly international nature of science while advancing our understanding of the universe's basic matter. We envision this as a world center for cutting-edge research."

RIKEN President Akito Arima added, "The Center is clearly a highly significant landmark in RIKEN's efforts to promote international collaboration."

About Lee's appointment, Arima said, "He brings world-class status to the Center, together with a proven ability to play a vital role in leading the way towards truly outstanding science. Great opportunities must surely lie ahead!"

The Center will host close to 30 scientists each year, including postdoctoral and five-year fellows and visiting scientists. It will also house state-of-the-art computers to aid their calculations. Its research focus will begin with theoretical physics but will eventually expand to include experimental studies.

BNL has a strong history of physics research, as evidenced by Lee's Nobel Prize and three others in physics. BNL is now the home of the world's newest "atom smasher": the $500 million Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), which will begin operation in 1999. The Center's research will relate to experiments that will be performed at RHIC by scientists from 19 countries and 22 U.S. states.

RHIC's main purpose is to collide atomic nuclei such as gold at speeds approaching the speed of light, in an attempt to produce a hot, dense state of matter that has not existed since shortly after the Big Bang.

But RHIC took on an additional, complementary mission in 1995, when RIKEN agreed to contribute $20 million to equip RHIC for the study of the world's highest-energy spin-polarized protons. Scientists hope that such studies will help in understanding of the nucleus in terms of the quantum chromodynamics theory of matter.

"With RHIC and the RIKEN BNL Research Center both in our stable of world-class research facilities, BNL has strengthened its position as a leading center of both experimental and theoretical physics, and will continue to foster the interplay between the two," said Dr. Samios.

Experimental physicists often turn to theory to inspire and guide their experiments, he explained, while theorists must interpret experimental results in light of existing theory, or even formulate new theories to accommodate new data.

Said Lee, "The progress of physics depends on young physicists opening up new frontiers. The RIKEN BNL Research Center will be dedicated to the nurturing of a new generation of scientists who can meet the challenge that will be created by RHIC."

RIKEN, a multidisciplinary lab like BNL, is located north of Tokyo and is supported by the Japanese Science & Technology Agency.

The Center's research will relate entirely to the RHIC particle accelerator, and does not involve BNL reactors or other facilities.

Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies. BNL is operated by Associated Universities, Inc., a nonprofit research management organization, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.