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Nobel Laureate Takaaki Kajita Visits NTHU
Dr. Takaaki Kajita of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research (ICRR) at the University of Tokyo, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2015, recently visited NTHU. Together with members of his research team, Dr. Kajita met with NTHU researchers to discuss academic cooperation and to probe into the mystery of gravitational waves, sometimes referred to as the “holy grail of astrophysics.” During a workshop Dr. Kajita introduced the Kamioka Gravitational Wave Detector (KAGRA), a cryogenic gravitational wave telescope installed 200 meters underground in Japan. He emphasized that research into the nature of the cosmos belongs to all humanity, and encouraged researchers in various disciplines to take part in this significant endeavor.
Late last year the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics would be awarded to both Dr. Kajita and Canadian scholar Arthur B. McDonald, who has also observed evidence of neutrino oscillation and is recognized for pioneering achievements in particle physics.
In introducing Dr. Kajita’s groundbreaking research, Prof. Albert Kong of NTHU’s Institute of Astronomy explained that gravitational waves are a key element of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, and evidence of their existence can be seen as the final piece of the puzzle. A hundred years ago, Einstein understood gravity to be generated by distortions to time and space caused by objects having mass. When objects with a huge mass (such as black holes) vibrate intensively, adjacent space-time objects are transformed and move outwards, causing gravity waves. However, gravity waves are rather weak, and thus have never been directly observed.
In an effort to unlock the final mystery of relativity, researchers in Europe and the United States have been giving increased importance to gravitational wave astronomy. To directly observe gravitational waves, researchers at the University of Tokyo led by Dr. Kajita initiated the KAGRA project, the construction of which has cost NT$4.2 billion. Recently the KAGRA team contacted NTHU’s Institute of Astronomy to discuss the possibility of joining the project, and on December 23 the Japan-Taiwan Workshop on KAGRA was held at the National Center for Theoretical Sciences at NTHU.
Prof. Kong pointed out the importance of gravitational waves for contemporary astrophysics, as demonstrated by the conferral of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Dr. Kajita and Dr. McDonald. At present the world's top research teams are actively striving to become the first to directly observe gravitational waves.
Professor Shiuh Chao, Institute of Photonics Technologies of NTHU, is using his expertise in optical membranes to develop a way to use a high reflection mirror to reduce thermal noise disturbance in the equipment employed to observe gravitational waves. He says that so far we have been using electromagnetic waves with different wavelengths to observe space and gradually form our current knowledge of the structure of the universe. However, when the existence of gravitational waves is confirmed, this would open another window for observing space and expanding our exploration of the universe.
During the Workshop Dr. Kajita said that the universe is an intriguing subject to study, such that each new discovery leads to new research problems, and that is what has inspired him to continuously work in the basic sciences.
 Nobel Laureate Takaaki Kajita, Institute for Cosmic Ray Research of the University of Tokyo.

Nobel Laureate Takaaki Kajita, Institute for Cosmic Ray Research of the University of Tokyo.

 Participants of the Japan-Taiwan Workshop on KAGRA.

Participants of the Japan-Taiwan Workshop on KAGRA.


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