"Science as in a long-term vision" - Opening a path to the truth and to the future
Director, ICEPP, The University of Tokyo
Particle physics is a fundamental science that examines the composition of matter and space. Since observing small particles requires the use of large higher-energy accelerators, the experimental projects in this research are being larger. We are sometimes asked "Does this research serve society?" The question, at heart, might be "What kind of fruitful achievement for society can be provided by investing tremendous social resources in this research?"
Here is my answer.
This research will not produce benefits in the short-term, during the next five or ten years. The research we are engaged in aims to fulfil humanity's intellectual desire to learn about the world that surrounds us. I hope that people understand the value that this provides.
Furthermore, if one looks back through history, one will find examples showing how this 'not for immediate-use' research has formed the foundations of industries and provided tremendous social benefits. Research into the origins of matter discovered the existence of the electron a century ago, which led to the development of the electronics industry. X-rays and heavy particles are used every day in the medical field. The web technology of the internet, which has become part of the infrastructure of modern society, is a tool developed by CERN, the top of particle physics research center in the world.
Large-scale physics experiments are also model cases for the introduction of state-of-the-art technologies undergoing research and development. Fundamental scientific research produces new technologies, and state-of-the-art technologies are actively deployed in order to further develop fundamental science. In that sense, particle physics can be considered as not only a fundamental science, but an integrated science as well.
That said, it may take 50 or even 100 years for the research we are now engaged in to contribute to peoples' lives. In a way, fundamental science is a long-term investment for the benefit of future generations. There is a Chinese saying that goes: 'If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people'. I hope that people will understand and support fundamental science in a long-term vision for society.
In the field of fundamental science, the accumulated achievements of past scientists have tremendous importance. Since being appointed Director in April 2017, I have worked to carry on these achievements and pass them to future generations, advancing forward in line with ICEPP's history.
Those that will lead the future of science are "you" who are just beginning their research activities. I welcome the challenges of highly motivated students that brim with curiosity leading the way into a new era of physics. "Science as in a long-term vision" is of great importance for the future of young researchers.