About Us

Cosmological discoveries over the past three decades have had an impact on both astronomy and physics. For example, we have found that the Universe is a giant particle accelerator, which enables particles to have energies that are 30 million times higher than those found in terrestrial accelerators. Another area where physics and astronomy are intertwined is in understanding "dark matter". The Universe contains large amounts of "dark matter" which scientists feel is made of a particle that is yet to be discovered. The origin of structure in the Universe such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies is believed to have happened through sub-atomic quantum fluctuations, whose ripples we see as tiny fluctuations in the temperature of cosmic microwave background across the sky.

These and other discoveries show that physics at the smallest scale - interactions of the quarks and leptons - is intimately connected with the largest scale - the constitution and birth of the cosmos itself. The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) is at the forefront of research that exploits these connections. It is committed to the development of innovative approaches that combine both physics and astronomy to further our understanding of the birth and earliest evolution of the Universe. The KICP is a research institute within The University of Chicago's Physical Sciences Division and was founded in August 2001 as one of the National Science Foundation's Physics Frontiers Centers (PFC). It was originally named the Center for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. On March 10th 2004, following a generous endowment from the Kavli Foundation the CfCP was renamed the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP). This endowment has made this research institute devoted to interdisciplinary cosmological physics a permanent entity at the University of Chicago.

There are a number of profound questions that form the primary scientific focus of the Institute:

  • What is the nature of the dark energy that dominates the Universe and what is its impact on the evolution of the Universe?
  • Was there an inflationary epoch in the first moments of the Universe, and if so, what is the underlying physics that caused it?
  • What is the nature of dark matter? Is it a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP) and if it is how can it be discovered and how does it fit into the Standard Model of Particle Physics?
  • What clues do nature's highest energy particles offer about the unification of forces?