Senior Staff Scientist

Hiroshi KIMURA

For dust you are and to dust you will return
(Genesis 3:19)

Biography: He was born in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Unlike all ancestors in his family tree, he was brave enough to leave Kyoto of traditional lifestyle and spent his youth in exotic foreign lands of the Kansai region named Osaka and Kobe where he mastered the Kansai language despite the intense culture shock. Since he has long yearned to be a poet like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke, he flew to the Germany of his dream in search of a job. It was fortunate that he got a fellowship at the Max Planck Institute near the Brocken on which, according to Goethe's Faust, witches gather. The fellowship was awarded for research on cosmic dust, instead of constellations—poems in the night sky. This is a story about how he became an astronomer, different from Doctor Faust who is an astrologer.

Research: His main interest lies in the life cycle of matter in the Universe through physical processes of dust in the galactic environment despite his allergic reaction to house dust. Cosmic dust is omnipresent, but kaleidoscopic. The death of dust sparks the birth of stars, while dust is reborn as stardust at the death of stars. No doubt, the reincarnation of dust in the cosmos is the driving force on the evolution of matter in the Universe. Cosmic dust is minute while simultaneously being the smallest unit of solid that constitutes primitive bodies such as comets and asteroids, the accumulation of which makes a habitable planet. The majority of primitive dust consist mainly of complex organic matter together with icy and rocky materials. Therefore, not only dust is the building blocks of a planet, but also it provides seeds of living organisms and life on the planet. Consequently, the life cycle of cosmic dust will make a great impact on both the formation of planetary systems and the origin of life on habitable planets like the Earth. The final goal of his research is to answer the question as to whether living organisms on a planet is ubiquitous in the Universe or not. By considering his expertise, a neologist calls him a cosmodustian. Not to be confused with a comedian, although he is a Kansai native of Japan’s comedy culture.