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About the Institute


The Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics is an endowed research center that supports the community of theoretical physicists at Caltech as they discover fundamental laws of nature and expand our understanding of the universe at all scales.


The Burke Institute promotes research in theoretical physics by providing outstanding educational and research opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, by bringing distinguished visiting scholars to Caltech, by hosting workshops to accelerate the exchange of ideas, and by encouraging cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Theoretical physics—the cornerstone of basic science—is a core strength at Caltech. Our quest for transformational discoveries was aptly described by Nobel laureate William Fowler:

“What we’re doing is mainly a cultural and intellectual contribution to the sum total of human knowledge, and that’s why we do it. If there happen to turn out to be practical applications, that’s fine and dandy. But we think it’s important that the human race understands where sunlight comes from.”

John Schwarz and students