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By Leah Poffenberger
The discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 completed the Standard Model, but this monumental step in physics research led to a new question: What’s beyond the Standard Model?
To help stimulate new ideas and create innovative technologies to explore problems in fundamental physics, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has initiated a set of awards in partnership with APS designed to bring people together who can move basic research forward. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Fundamental Physics Innovation Awards will provide varying levels of funding in three categories: Lectureship awards, Visitor awards, and Convening awards.
“These awards are for coming up with ways to do fundamental research with limited funding,” says Theodore Hodapp, Director of Project Development at APS. “We’re not building the next huge particle detector but working on developing theory and cost-effective small-scale experiments.” An example of such an experiment, Hodapp says, would be using pulsar data to study dark matter: Already-collected data doesn’t require the construction of an expensive new detector.
“The foundation supports basic science and we seem to be on the verge of big changes in how we understand fundamental aspects of nature,” says Ernie Glover, science program officer at the Foundation. “New tools such as atomic sensors will allow bright, creative scientists to innovate and find solutions to the important mysteries facing fundamental physics.”
The deadline for the first review cycle for the Fundamental Physics Innovation Awards is July 15. However, applications can be submitted at any time throughout the year for review; the next deadline is October 15. Both experimentalists and theorists with novel ideas for detecting dark matter, unlocking secrets of dark energy, exploring physics beyond the standard model, or addressing other problems in fundamental physics are encouraged to apply.
Lectureship Awards of up to $2,000 serve to support researchers who wish to take short trips to hold seminars on their work to broaden awareness of proposed or existing approaches for probing new physics.
Visitor Awards serve a similar purpose, but support longer, 1- to 6-week-long trips with funds between $5,000 and $10,000. These longer visits promote collaboration and exchange of ideas among researchers who may not otherwise have the opportunity to work closely together.
The Convening Awards — the largest award amounts of $75,000 or $25,000 — enable small scientific meetings to bring experts together for discussions and presentations in hopes of sparking new ideas for the future of physics.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for APS to help provide financial support, in partnership with the Moore Foundation, to advance fundamental science,” says Hodapp. “Our connections with the majority of academic researchers make this an obvious good fit, and well in line with our mission to advance the knowledge of physics.”
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik