Prof. Shuji Hasegawa
Chairman, Department of Physics
Physics is a field of science in which, by making theory and experiments work closely together, individual phenomena in the whole creation are solved and summarized into universal laws and concepts. Physics targets a wide variety of phenomena, ranging from close ones such as rainbow of the seven colors and symmetric shapes of snowflakes to magnificent questions like how the universe was created and what is happening in the future, and how our life was born. Economic and social phenomena are not exception for targets of physics.
Especially, we have witnessed a great success in physics of reductionism for seeking fundamental elements of matter, down to atoms/molecules, nuclei, and elementary particles. Physics has now clarified the origin of mass and is close on unknown particles such as dark matter. It has been unveiled surprisingly that the elementary particle physics leads to understanding of the beginning of universe. In contrast to such reductionism which is a kind of warp in physics, on the other hand, physics has the weft which is important to relates very different kinds of phenomena with each other and widen the scope of physics. For example, thermodynamics and statistical physics can be applied to various systems of different subjects and scales, and are still leading to widening the fields such as condensed matter physics, non-equilibrium physics, biophysics, quantum information physics, and so on. The concepts and methodology of physics still continue to evolve and be utilized in all directions lengthwise and crosswise not only to understand Nature, but also to make great impact on society and technology.
Our Department of Physics in Faculty of Science (undergraduate course) has about 40 faculty members (professors, associate professors, and lecturers), who are all internationally recognized physicists, and also has similar number of assistant professors, to cover most of the fields of physics for undergraduate education. In the junior and senior classes, the students can learn not only fundamental subjects such as quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, electromagnetism, relativity and so on, but also have systematic training of experiments, to make education of theory, exercises and experiments in good balance. In the hope of building a foundation for various intellectual activities, we set a fundamental educational objective for the students to acquire physical perspectives, approach to nature, logical clarity and consistency, not only a transfer of fragmentary knowledge. Moreover, through these processes, we hope the students to learn the abilities of intelligence assessment, information-gathering capabilities, analytical capabilities, critical thinking, communication skills, planning and strategy towards purposes, and patience. In the senior, the students belong to research groups to touch the frontlines of research in specific fields of physics, which leads to research activities in the Graduate School.
Through friendly rivalry with excellent classmates and friends in the Department and also through interaction with the faculty members, the students will acquire human resource for cutting through paths on their own ability. The resource will be indispensable not only for researchers, but also for any intellectual occupations. We hope the students to learn in open atmosphere in our Department, and to grow as intellectual and strong-minded men.
Our Department of Physics in Graduate School of Science (graduate course) consists not only of the faculty members for the undergraduate course, but also of faculties in many other institutes in The University of Tokyo, including Cryogenics Research Center, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, Research Center for the Early Universe, Center for Nuclear Study, International Center for Elementary Particle Physics, Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, Institute for Solid State Physics, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, Institute of Industrial Science, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which are located at Hongo, Kashiwa, and Komaba campuses. Furthermore, some of our adjunct professors belong to institutes outside The University of Tokyo, such as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, and RIKEN. Thus, our Department for the graduate course has more than 130 faculties in total, one of the world-leading centers of excellence in education and research of physics. It is well known that several Nobel laureates including Professor Kajita for 2015 Nobel Prize, have been produced from our Department. We have many international students, researchers, and visitors from abroad. Many of the research groups are conducting international collaborations in research. We support the students to go abroad for internship and presentations at international conferences. In this way, active research is continued in really international atmosphere in our Department.
Among the master course students of our Department, more than half continue to study in the doctoral course. Until recently, students who completed the doctoral course usually stayed in academia and became researchers, while those who graduated from the master course went to industry or the public sector. However, it has gradually become recognized that the education and research experience acquired by students during the doctoral course grant them important capabilities to challenge unresolved problems not only in academia but also in other areas of society. After being awarded their degree, they are expected to utilize their skills and abilities to contribute in a creative manner to those areas of society, both domestic and worldwide.
Actually, research in the graduate course, especially in the doctoral course, is totally different from study in the undergraduate course; researchers are trying to solve problems of which answers are unknown. Sometimes it is even not clear in advance whether an answer of the problem exits or not. Once we finally succeed in finding the answer, such new knowledge is then incorporated in academic disciplines. By accumulating such results, we create new concepts and sometimes induce paradigm shift, or find a clue to a long-standing question or problem that human being faces. What we acquire from such experience in research is useful not only for developing academic disciplines, but also for any other intellectual activities contributing to universal prosperity of mankind. We hope the students to tackle their own research subjects and deepen their own specialty with such ambition. By overcoming many difficulties in the course of research, such experience promotes their human resource which is very useful and important strength for any intellectual professions. Our Department are thus, through research activity, bringing up human resources that contribute to human society.