Contact: Kara Villamil, or Mona S. Rowe


UPTON, NY -- With speeches by American and Japanese dignitaries, a new physics research center sponsored by both countries was opened today at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"The inauguration of the RIKEN BNL Research Center marks a major step forward in the cooperation between Japanese and American scientists and national laboratories," said Peter Rosen, associate director of DOE's Office of Energy Research. "Just as science itself transcends international boundaries, so will this center and the knowledge that it will produce. We are pleased that Long Island can be the home of such an important research center."

Akito Arima, president of Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, or RIKEN, added, "The Center is clearly a highly significant landmark in RIKEN's efforts to promote international collaboration."

RIKEN has already funded $2 million to get the center started, and has committed to even greater funding in the future. Also present at the ceremony was Minister Seiji Kojima of the Japanese embassy to the U.S.

RIKEN has also commissioned the building of a $1.8 million supercomputer, now being assembled at the Center under the supervision of Columbia University physicists, that will be one of the most powerful in the world. At 0.6 trillion calculations per second (teraflops), the computer will be dedicated to helping the Center's physicists calculate the interaction of matter with great precision.

The Center, housed in BNL's Physics building, already has five staff physicists and several visiting senior scientists. It will soon host close to 30 scientists each year, including postdoctoral and five-year fellows and visiting scientists. Its research focus will begin with theoretical physics but will expand to include experimental studies relating to BNL's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a new particle accelerator now being built.

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

"The Center will be dedicated to the study of all aspects of strong interactions through the nurturing of a new generation of young physicists," said Dr. Lee.

BNL has a strong history of physics research, as evidenced by Lee's Nobel Prize and three others in physics. Today, BNL is building 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 hundreds of 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 fund a $20 million project to add the world's highest-energy polarized proton beam capability to RHIC. Scientists hope that studies of collisions between such beams will provide new information on the quarks and gluons that make up protons, which in turn help make up every atom in the universe.
RIKEN, a multidisciplinary lab like BNL, is located north of Tokyo and is supported by the Japanese Science & Technology Agency.

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.

-- 30 --