Chairman (retired) and Founder, Teledyne DALSA Corporation
Savvas Chamberlain knows better than most people that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. After all, he’s a scientist and inventor who turned his deep expertise in CCD image sensors (the kind of sensors inside high-end digital cameras) into a company called DALSA. Today, DALSA is a global leader in high performance imaging and semiconductors. Their image sensors are even inside NASA’s Mars Rovers.
It wouldn’t have happened without physics. Semiconductors (of which CCDs are a type) were invented by theoretical physicists: Willard Boyle (a Canadian) and George Smith from Bell Labs, who were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work. The connection is even deeper, as CCDs rely on the photoelectric effect, described by Albert Einstein in 1905.
The breakthroughs made by the great physicists of the past have shaped our modern world in deep and surprising ways. And the breakthroughs made by the great physicists of the present – who knows where they will take us?
The beauty of investing in these breakthroughs is that the price tag does not have to be high. This isn’t “big science” with its high-priced equipment. Theoretical physics is work done largely on chalkboards.
By lending their support to the Perimeter Institute, far-sighted individuals like Savvas Chamberlain can help make the breakthroughs that will change the world.
Since 2009, the Cowan Foundation has supported the Perimeter Institute’s popular Alice & Bob videos and the teacher resources that support them.
The animated siblings Alice and Bob might be Perimeter’s most popular ambassadors. Through a series of 60-second Alice & Bob videos, thousands of school children have discovered that it is sometimes the simplest questions that lead us to the most profound insights into the nature of our amazing universe.
"Dr. Richard Epp and Alice & Bob captured the attention of the 100 school children at Empire Public School during a noon hour presentation. What was most exciting to me as a parent volunteer was to see the way the PI people were able to engage the children’s sense of wonder by demonstrating their own.
In a low-key manner that was perfectly suited for kids, the Perimeter representatives explained complex ideas and processes, shared their own curiosity, and invited the children to do the same.
My daughter came home bubbling over with questions and concepts, and at the same time was very clear about what she had learned. I wish science could be presented in this way more often!"
– Susan F., Parent Volunteer
“One of the goals of The Cowan Foundation is to support the delivery of innovative programs that encourage excellence by providing opportunities for our future leaders of tomorrow. We’re pleased to join with the Perimeter Institute in nurturing curiosity and wonder through the Alice & Bob classroom resources.”
– Heather McLachlin, President, Cowan Insurance Group
In 2010, the BMO Financial Group announced the single largest donation supporting science in its history: $4 million to establish the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute.
Perimeter is already competing successfully for faculty members with the leading institutions in the world. Still, the competition for the very best minds is fierce.
That’s why one of Perimeter’s highest priorities is establishing five prestigious endowed chairs and recruiting as new chairholders five of the most influential theoretical physicists of our time.
One of the world’s top scientists has agreed to fill the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute : Xiao-Gang Wen, a leading expert in condensed matter theory. He comes to Perimeter from MIT, where he held the Cecil and Ida Green Professorship in Physics.
“This investment is a game-changer. Last fall, when we announced BMO’s support in attracting even more of the best theoretical physicists to Canada, we were confident that this chair, in particular, would be a magnet for talent. Dr. Wen is a scientist of exceptional global stature, someone who is pushing the boundaries in an area of science where the potential applications are simply enormous. It’s an opportunity not only to enhance innovation in Canada, but also to establish our leadership position in new quantum technologies – globally.”
– Bill Downe, President and CEO of BMO Financial Group