The Center for the Physics of Biological Function (CPBF), a joint effort between The Graduate Center at CUNY and Princeton University, is one of eleven Physics Frontier Centers established by the Physics Division of the National Science Foundation Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS). We are a collection of scientists working at the interface of physics and biology with the goal of creating a physicist’s understanding of living systems: a physics of biological function that connects the myriad details of life, across all scales, to fundamental and universal physical principles. Our center focuses on new scientific opportunities and educational programs, integrating theory and experiment, research and education.
In the century since the publication of Einstein's theory of general relativity, strongly curved spacetimes, from black holes to cosmological histories, have been the focus of intense study. Following LIGO's historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes in 2015, we now have a direct window of observation into events whose power briefly exceeds the combined power of all the stars in the known universe. Another historic first event occurred in 2017, when LIGO observed the merger of two neutron stars in gravitational waves, followed soon thereafter by numerous electromagnetic observations of the event, from gamma rays to radio waves. But strong gravity still harbors many mysteries, including quantum effects, dark energy, the origins of the Universe, and what happens inside black holes and neutron stars. LIGO is gearing up for its next observing run, expecting to see many more merger events. Soon we hope to have images from the Event Horizon Telescope of the enormous black hole at the center of our galaxy. Pulsar timing measurements are ongoing, and may soon reach a level of precision where a stochastic background of gravitational waves from supermassive black hole binaries could be detected. Cosmic microwave background polarization observatories are honing in on primordial gravitational waves created in the early universe.
Against the backdrop of these exciting observational advances, now is a key moment for mathematics, theoretical physics, and astrophysics to come together-in the tradition of past Princeton luminaries John Wheeler, Bob Dicke, and Howard Robertson-to push toward a deeper, interdisciplinary understanding of gravity. Princeton University's departments of Astrophysics, Mathematics and Physics have therefore banded together to form a new program called the Princeton Gravity Initiative, to explore the fundamentals of the force we call gravity.
The Princeton Center for Theoretical Science is designed to enhance research and education in the theoretical natural sciences through prestigious postdoctoral fellowships and programs that identify and explore forefront issues in theoretical science.
The Center is home to the highly select corps of Center Postdoctoral Fellows, chosen each year in an international search for the most talented individuals, and to the Center Faculty Fellows and Visiting Fellows. The Center also hosts the workshops, seminars, public lectures and other activities associated with its yearly programs