RIKEN

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Logo of RIKEN, a Japanese natural sciences research institute

RIKEN (理研?) is a large STEM research institute in Japan. Founded in 1917, it now has approximately 3000 scientists on seven campuses across Japan, the main one in Wako, just outside Tokyo. RIKEN is an Independent Administrative Institution whose formal name in Japanese is Rikagaku Kenkyūsho (理化学研究所?) and in English is the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research.

RIKEN conducts research in many areas of science, including physics, chemistry, biology, medical science, engineering and computational science, and ranging from basic research to practical applications. It is almost entirely funded by the Japanese government, and its annual budget is approximately ¥88 billion (US$760 million).

History[edit]

RIKEN in the Taisho period
A 1938 ad for RIKEN Vitamin A

In 1913 the well-known scientist Jokichi Takamine first proposed the establishment of a national science research institute in Japan. This task was taken on by Eiichi Shibusawa, a prominent businessman, and following a resolution by the Diet in 1915, RIKEN came into existence in March 1917. In its first incarnation, RIKEN was a private foundation (zaidan), funded by a combination of industry, the government, and the Imperial Household. It was located in the Komagome district of Tokyo, and its first Director was the mathematician Dairoku Kikuchi.

In 1927 Masatoshi Ōkōchi, the third Director, established the RIKEN Konzern (a zaibatsu). This was a group of spin-off companies that used RIKEN's scientific achievements for commercial ends and returned the profits to RIKEN. At its peak in 1939 the Konzern comprised about 121 factories and 63 companies, including Riken Kankōshi, which is now Ricoh.

During World War II the Japanese army's atomic bomb program was conducted at RIKEN. In April 1945 the US bombed RIKEN's laboratories in Komagome, and in November, after the end of the war, Allied soldiers destroyed its two cyclotrons.

After the war, the Allies dissolved RIKEN as a private foundation, and it was brought back to life as a company called Kagaku Kenkyūsho (科学研究所?), or KAKEN (科研?). In 1958 the Diet passed the RIKEN Law, whereby the institute returned to its original name and entered its third incarnation, as a public corporation (特殊法人 tokushu hōjin?), funded by the government. In 1963 it relocated to a large site in Wako, Saitama Prefecture, just outside Tokyo.

Since the 1980s RIKEN has expanded dramatically. New labs, centers, and institutes have been established in Japan and overseas, including:

In October 2003 RIKEN's status changed again, to Independent Administrative Institution. As such, RIKEN is still publicly funded, and it is periodically evaluated by the government, but it has a higher degree of autonomy than before.

RIKEN is regarded as the flagship research institute in Japan. It conducts basic and applied experimental research in a wide range of science and technology fields including physics, chemistry, medical science, biology and engineering. In the wake of the 2014 Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cell controversy, observers, journalists, and former members of RIKEN have stated that the organization is riddled with unprofessional and inadequate scientific rigor and consistency, and that this is reflective of serious issues with scientific research in Japan in general.[1][2]

Organizational structure[edit]

Main Research Building in Wako
Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe

The main divisions of RIKEN are listed here. Purely administrative divisions are omitted.

Miscellaneous facts and recent achievements[edit]

  • Two RIKEN scientists have won the Nobel prize for physics: Hideki Yukawa in 1949 and Shinichiro Tomonaga in 1965.
  • The SPring-8 (Super Photon Ring 8GeV) facility in Harima is the world's largest and most powerful third-generation synchrotron radiation facility.
  • The RIKEN Genomic Sciences Center in Yokohama was one of the sixteen institutions that formed the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium.
  • In July 2004 a team at RIKEN created the first confirmed instance of element 113, which is now known as "Unutrium". On April 2, 2005 the same team successfully created it for the second time.
  • On May 23, 2005, the eight-storey RI (radioisotope) Beam Factory Experiment Facility opened in Wako.
  • The RIKEN Super Combined Cluster is one of the world's fastest supercomputers. In January 2006, RIKEN set up the Next-Generation Supercomputer R&D Center, with the purpose of designing and building the fastest supercomputer in the world, and in June 2006, it announced the completion of a one-petaflops computer system designed specially for molecular dynamics simulation. Currently a new system, the K computer is being installed at RIKEN and despite it being still not finished, it topped the LINPACK benchmark with the performance of 8.162 petaflops, or 8.162 quadrillion calculations per second, with a computing efficiency ratio of 93.0%, making it the fastest supercomputer in the world.[3][4][5][6] The complete project entered service in November 2012.
  • There are a small number of graduate students at RIKEN, but it does not award degrees itself.

The name "RIKEN"[edit]

The full Japanese name of RIKEN is Rikagaku Kenkyūsho (理化学研究所?), which literally means "The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research" (though it now also conducts research in biology and other fields). RIKEN (理研?) is a Japanese abbreviation of this.

"The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research" was formerly used as an alternative English name, or a kind of subtitle, for RIKEN. But in 2003, when it became an Independent Administrative Institution, this name was officially discarded, and the English appellation is now just "RIKEN", in capital letters. The media sometimes refer to it as "Riken" or "the Riken institute".

"RIKEN" is pronounced as a single word: /ˈrɪkɛn/ (RI-ken). The full Japanese name, "Rikagaku Kenkyūsho", is sometimes pronounced "Rikagaku Kenkyūjo", which may be used less often but is not incorrect as it is merely an example of Rendaku.

List of presidents[edit]

Notable scientists and other people from RIKEN[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Otake, Tomoko, "‘STAPgate’ shows Japan must get back to basics in science", Japan Times, 21 April 2014
  2. ^ Schreiber, Mark, "Ongoing Obokata story seeks out scandal", Japan Times, 5 July 2014, p. 19
  3. ^ "Japanese ‘K’ Computer Is Ranked Most Powerful". The New York Times. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Japan Reclaims Top Ranking on Latest TOP500 List of World’s Supercomputers", top500.org, retrieved June 20, 2011 
  5. ^ "K computer, SPARC64 VIIIfx 2.0GHz, Tofu interconnect", top500.org, retrieved June 20, 2011 
  6. ^ "Supercomputer "K computer" Takes First Place in World". RIKEN. Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Kitano, H.; Asada, M.; Kuniyoshi, Y.; Noda, I.; Osawa, E. (1997). "Robo Cup". Proceedings of the first international conference on Autonomous agents - AGENTS '97. p. 340. doi:10.1145/267658.267738. ISBN 0897918770. 

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 35°46′49″N 139°36′45″E / 35.78028°N 139.61250°E / 35.78028; 139.61250