There have been dramatic breakthroughs in cosmology, the study of the universe, during the past two decades that have since revolutionized our worldview. After the tremendous progress in physics in the last century, we now recognize that we only understand no more than 5% of the substance in the universe. The remaining 95% of it is believed to be made of “dark matter” and “dark energy”, whose nature is still to be determined. In its July 1, 2005 Special Issue to celebrate the journal’s 125th anniversary, the Science Magazine listed 125 most compelling puzzles and questions facing scientists today, and the number one question was: “What Is the Universe Made Of?” The importance of cosmology in the 21ST century requires little persuasion. Rising to the challenge and the opportunity, many leading universities in the world have established institutions in recent years dedicated to the research into this area.
In order to promote the advancement of this field in Taiwan, Mr. Chee-Chun Leung has donated NT$205 million (~US$ 7M) to the National Taiwan University in November 2007 to found the Leung Center for Cosmology and Particle Astrophysics (LeCosPA). Mr. Leung, who received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from NTU, is the co-founder and vice president of the Taiwan-based Quanta Computers Inc. Quanta is one of the world’s largest producers of laptop computers and is among world’s top 500 companies according to the Forbes Magazine. Leung’s philanthropy was partially triggered by his college classmate, Pisin Chen of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University, who has recently joined the faculty of NTU. Chen has since been appointed as the inaugural Director of LeCosPA and the NTU C.C. Leung Chair Professor of Cosmology.
LeCosPA Inauguration Ceremony was held on November 13, 2007, where Mr. Chee-Chun Leung and NTU President Si-Chen Lee signed the donation contract in front of distinguished international colleagues. Its organization as a NTU University-Level Research Center was soon formally approved for operation by the university, effective January 1, 2008. Before it can move to its permanent home on NTU campus, LeCosPA is currently housed on the 8th floor of the New Physics Building, thanks to the support of the Physics Department.
LeCosPA aspires to become an international center for cosmology and particle astrophysics through domestic and international collaborations and exchanges. Its Fellows are recruited from leading institutions in Taiwan and abroad. Its merit-based Distinguished Junior Fellows program, with competitive salary, eagerly invites international applications. The current experimental projects in LeCosPA cover from CMB observations in Hawaii, GZK cosmic neutrino detection in Antarctica, to infrared telescope in Tibet. The focus of its Working Groups, on the other hand, ranges from stellar and galactic evolution, large scale structure formation, cosmic neutrinos, dark matter, to dark energy studies. We strive to contribute to the understanding of the origin, the composition and the evolution of the universe, or even multiverse.