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National Laboratory for High Energy Physics, which is a predecessor of High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, was established in 1971 as the first inter-university research institute in Japan. The acronym KEK stands for “Koh Enerugii butsurigaku Kenkyuusho” (“Research institute for high energy physics” in Japanese). Another predecessor Institute of Nuclear Study, which was established in 1955 as Japan’s first accelerator experiment facility for inter-university researches, and National Laboratory for High Energy Physics were consolidated into High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in 1997. The name KEK is inherited from the acronym of National Laboratory for High Energy Physics.

High Energy Accelerator Research Organization is often broadcasted on TV and radio in Japan. One of the recent topics broadcasted widely is the experiment on the origin of asymmetry between matter and anti-matter in the universe with the proton-electron collider (KEKB). Another experiment, which is highly appreciated internationally, is the neutrino oscillation experiment (K2K). In this experiment neutrino beam generated by the proton accelerator in KEK was shot into “Superkamiokande”, which is an extension of the water Cherenkov type neutrino detector “Kamiokande”, and is famous for its founder Prof. Masatoshi Koshiba, who won a Nobel Prize for physics.

While KEK is the only research institute with accelerators for high energy particle and nuclear experiments, it also has an active theoretical research group which inherits the legacy of Dr. Hideki Yukawa and Dr. Shin-Ichiro Tomonaga. It is doing leading research in various fields, from particle phenomenology closely related to experiments, lattice QCD, Hadron physics, and nuclear physics, to construction of fundamental theory of elementary particles such as string theory and quantum gravity. For example, in 1996, “a new formulation of string theory with matrices” was proposed by a group of theorists that mainly consists of KEK members. Researches following the proposal are disclosing answers to fundamental questions such as why our spacetime is four-dimensional.

As described above, KEK has been pioneering the frontiers of particle and nuclear physics both in theoretical and experimental researches, as a leading research institute equal to SLAC and Fermilab in the United States, and CERN in Europe. Department of particle and nuclear physics in The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI) was established in 1999 to exploit the environment and atmosphere that are formed from actual research work like the above for training young researchers.

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