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Perimeter Institute

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Title: Perimeter Institute  
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Subject: Many-worlds interpretation, Olbers' paradox, Waterloo, Ontario, Paul Ginsparg, Supersymmetry, Bogdanov affair, Neil Turok, Anton Zeilinger, Meanings of minor planet names: 14001–15000, Michael Nielsen
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Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Established 1999
Type Research institute
Location Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is an independent research centre in foundational, theoretical physics located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. It was founded in 1999.

In addition to research, Perimeter also provides scientific training and educational outreach activities to the general public. This is done in part through Perimeter’s Educational Outreach team.[1]

History and mission

Mike Lazaridis' initial donation of $100 million was announced on October 23, 2000. A subsequent personal donation of $50 million was made on June 4, 2008.[2] Research operations began in 2001. Along with its research activities, Perimeter Institute operates an international outreach program. It hosts the International Summer School for Young Physicists every summer, which is a physics camp for high school students.

Under the stewardship of Howard Burton, the Institute's first Executive Director, PI initially operated out of Waterloo's historic post office on King Street. In October 2004, it moved into its custom-built facility on Caroline Street, across Silver Lake from Waterloo Park. The building was designed by Montreal architect firm Saucier + Perrotte, which received a Governor General's Medal for Architecture for the design in May 2006. The building next to PI, housing the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, won the same award for its architects in 1997. Perimeter Institute's building features an open glass facade along the north and west sides, contrasting with the slate-black metal walls of much of the rest of the building. Each researcher's office, as well as various lounge areas, features a full-wall blackboard for working out and theorizing in solo or group efforts. The Ontario budget, announced in March 2006, included a commitment to provide $50 million in funding to PI from the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

In May 2008, Dr. Neil Turok, a renowned cosmologist, was appointed as Perimeter Institute's Director replacing Howard Burton.

In November 2008, it was announced that prominent physicist Stephen Hawking would take the position of Distinguished Research Chair, a visiting position, at the Institute.[3][4]


Perimeter's research encompasses eight fields:

Perimeter Institute Recorded Seminar Archive (PIRSA)

Research activities at PI are accessible to the public via the internet through the Perimeter Institute Recorded Seminar Archive (PIRSA), which is a permanent, free, searchable, and citable archive of recorded seminars, conferences, workshops and outreach events.

On-demand seminars with video and timed presentation materials can be accessed in Windows and Flash formats and offer MP3 audio files and PDFs of the supporting materials.

Educational Outreach

Perimeter Institute's educational outreach activities include a monthly public lecture series, a two-week summer camp for the world’s top science students, a series of in-class resources, week-long professional development workshops for science teachers, cultural activities with local and international artists, an online archive of educational resources, an extensive network of science teachers to share content across Canada, and many other special events and science festivals.[5][6]

Public Lectures Series

Perimeter Institute brings great thinkers from around the world to Canada to share their ideas on a wide variety of interesting subjects. Lecturers have included: Sir Roger Penrose, Leonard Susskind, Seth Lloyd, Freeman Dyson, Gerard ‘t Hooft, Jay Melosh, Jay Ingram, Anton Zeilinger, Michael Peskin, and Frank Wilczek.[7]


The International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP) brings approximately 40 Canadian and international students aged 16 – 18 to Perimeter for two weeks each year.

BrainSTEM: Your Future is Now

This is a festival that will connect technological innovations to the scientific breakthroughs that make them possible. The festival will feature science-centre styleexhibits, special presentations, public lectures, Science in the Club events and insider-tours of the world-class facilities of Perimeter Institute. Live Webcast Public Lectures features: James Grime, Lucy Hawking. 

This event is taking place from September 30 - October 6, 2013.

Quantum to Cosmos: Ideas for the Future festival

Held in October, 2009, the Quantum to Cosmos: Ideas for the Future festival (Q2C Festival) was a science outreach event held in Canada. The festival included events and activities spanning: lectures, panel discussions, pub talks, cultural activities, a PI documentary premiere (The Quantum Tamers: Revealing Our Weird and Wired Future), sci-fi film festival, an art exhibit and the hugely popular Physica Phantastica exhibit centre, a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) space filled with demonstrations, hands-on activities, experiments and an immersive 3D tour of the universe narrated by Stephen Hawking.[8]

The Q2C Festival attracted some 40,000 attendees (including over 6,000 in the secondary school program that brought students from Ontario and New York State and nearly one million viewers – and counting – through online streaming, video-on-demand services and special television broadcasts. Special editions of TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin”, filmed live in PI’s Atrium in Waterloo attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers from across Canada with just five broadcasts.


Joint masters-level program

In partnership with the University of Waterloo, PI launched Perimeter Scholars International (PSI), a Masters level course in theoretical physics. The 10-month course started in August 2009, and is expected to eventually draw 50 scholars per year. The Masters degree is issued by the nearby University of Waterloo.

The convocation of the inaugural pilot class of 28 was held at Perimeter Institute on June 20, 2010.[9]

Doctoral studies

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics also hosts PhD students wishing to pursue full-time graduate studies under the supervision of a PI faculty member. PhD students receive their doctoral degrees from a university partner, such as the University of Waterloo.


Perimeter Institute offers a number of planned courses each year, including cross-listed programs with universities and mini-courses given by PI Faculty, Associate Faculty and Visiting Researchers. The courses are made available to all students enrolled in surrounding universities. The popular courses are attended by students from University of Waterloo, University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, York University, and other centres.


Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute

Designed by Teeple Architects, a new 55,000 square feet (5,000 m2) expansion, the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute, completed in September 2011 and is the first building to which Stephen Hawking, a Perimeter Institute Distinguished Research Chair[10] has ever lent his name.[11] The Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute was the first-ever Gold Seal-managed project in Ontario. It is planned to attain LEED Silver certification.[12] The Centre's grand opening was in September 2011 and was not attended by Stephen Hawking.[13]

Past and present researchers

Notable past and present members of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC)

Notable Board Members


External links

  • Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI)
  • PIRSA - Perimeter Institute Recorded Seminar Archive
  • Perimeter Scholars International (PSI)
  • The Quantum Tamers: Revealing Our Weird and Wired Future
  • Quantum to Cosmos: Ideas for the Future festival
  • Blog that often mentions PI called "BackReaction" by Sabine Hossenfelder

Coordinates: 43°27′55″N 80°31′41″W / 43.46535°N 80.52800°W / 43.46535; -80.52800

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