Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics created

December 4, 2007 9:31:18 PM PST
On Tuesday, they announced the creation of the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics.

It was made possible in part by award winning scientists who put their own money into the project.

Assistant professor Joshua Bloom explains theories that account for the behavior of the universe to his astronomy students.

"So dark matter is an unknown particle that we've never discovered yet that maybe one day we'll discover, but at the moment we just know it exists and it represents a very large fraction of the universe," said researcher Alexie Leauthaud.

It's one of the questions post doctorate researcher Alexie Leauthaud hopes to explore at the new Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics.

"This provides like a platform where we can do some serious science," said researcher Anze Slosar.

Astrophysicist George Smoot said declining resources for scientific research prompted him to donate $500,000 dollars of the money he won from last year's Nobel Prize in physics to create the new center.

"I came into a world which was great for doing science. There was funding, there was seed money. There were people to train you. I want to do the same for the next generation," said Nobel Laureate George Smoot, Ph.D.

Professor Saul Perlmutter donated $600,000 dollars of the money he won in prizes for astronomy and cosmology research. He said Berkeley is the perfect place to create such a research center.

"We have wonderful people inventing the tools and experiments we can use. We have theorists who can pull the whole story together. It's just a very unusual place that can tie together so many parts of the cosmology story," said Saul Perlmutter, Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.

One and a half million dollars came from the foundation started by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife Betty.

Altogether the center starts with more than $8 million dollars to explore the universe. The university plans to raise more.

Professor Smoot says this continues a dream that began when he was a child looking at the stars, and continued as a scientist trying to answer fundamental questions.

"I wanted to know how did it all get here, where do we come from, you know what's our place in the universe, how does it all fit together, and why is it so beautiful," said Smoot.