The University of California, San Diego has announced a $20 million commitment from the Simons Foundation in New York City in support of efforts to understand the conditions of the universe in the moments immediately after its inception.
To be disbursed over five years starting in 2022, the gift will support the operations of the Simons Observatory, which is being constructed in Chile's Atacama Desert with support from UCSD, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Flatiron Institute, and forty partner institutions around the world. When completed, the observatory will enable researchers to observe and measure the cosmic microwave background, providing a window on the physics of the earliest universe and how gravity imposed structure on it, the properties of neutrinos, and the nature of dark energy.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the observatory, which is situated at an elevation of 17,200 feet, was held on June 30. Funding for the project includes previous gifts from the Simons Foundation totaling $60 million.
"The Simons Observatory is a flagship project in cosmology supported by the Simons Foundation in partnership with the Heising-Simons Foundation and participating institutions," said Greg Gabadadze, associate director of the Simons Foundation's mathematics and physical sciences division. "The project aims to define the research on the cosmic microwave background radiation in the next decade, with a focus on the fundamental physics imprints carried by the radiation from the earliest moments of the universe."