The Science Division supplies a wide range of education and research based on fundamental science such as physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and environmental science. Our education curriculum mainly consists of lectures and special research through which students acquire advanced professional knowledge and research techniques. Special research regarding thesis themes, which are advanced based on careful guidance and discussion by advising teachers, will give practical research techniques for observations, experiments, simulations, theories, consideration, presentations, article writing, etc., to the students. You will acquire advanced professional knowledge and problem-solving capabilities to solve various problems. In addition, you will acquire the capability of understanding and explaining the essence of things by using logical, critical thinking based on professional knowledge.
The target of the Physics Unit is to theoretically and experimentally solve a wide range of mysteries of space-time and matter, from the past to the future, and from the maximum to the minimum.
Physics is the most basic out of all the science fields handling natural phenomena. It can be said that particle physics is most fundamental in natural science fields because it handles the smallest matters (most basic matters). The research object of particle physics is a microscopic world, but its research results have been incorporated into the theory of the early universe, and have largely affected the prediction to consider how the present universe will change. Thus, the research into a microscopic world is related to the research of the larger world.
Our laboratory is researching physical phenomena in a large-scale space between the sun and earth and in the heliosphere through observation of cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are generated by high-energy charged particles (mainly protons), and come to the earth isotropically according to the effects of the galactic magnetic field. However, slight anisotropy (non-isotropy) is observed in the approaching direction. The heliosphere-scale magnetic field structure and its variations can be researched by observing such anisotropy for a long time.
Particle physics (high-energy physics) researches the most fundamental status of nature. At present, a very small particle (about one hundred-millionth of an atom) can be observed with a particle accelerator (a kind of “microscope”). To observe a smaller world, a particle accelerator should create a higher energy status by accelerating and bombarding particles. This high-energy status generates a small “Big Bang.” Observing a small world helps us unravel the start of the universe beginning from the Big Bang. A particle accelerator can be considered as experimental equipment for creating the universe.
Matters around us consist of a huge number of atoms. One atom consists of many protons, electrons, neutrons, etc. Particle physics handles such particles and smaller particles, but condensed matter physics researches the nature of matter that consists of many atoms and has a diversity that can be directly recognized by us.
The magnetic property (magnetic force) of a magnet is mainly caused by the spin of electrons included in each atom constituting the magnet. All elements that have electrons provide magnetic properties, but the type and strength of the magnetic property depend on the number of electrons of the element. For example, many transition elements such as iron show strong magnetic properties because they have magnetic moment. Magnets always contain transition elements. However, the magnetic property of matter cannot be understood even if the magnetic property of each element is known. This is because the mutual actions depend on element combination, distance, and array. It can be said that matter consisting of a huge number (about ten to the twenty-second) of electrons provides an infinite amount of diversity. As an interesting phenomenon produced by electrons contained in matter, superconductivity is also known. In recent years, it has been actively discussed that magnetic properties play an important role in the mechanism of superconductivity. In this way, magnetic properties is not an independent research field, but is related to other physical phenomena. Developing new magnetic materials is also needed in various application fields for magnetic refrigeration materials, magnetic recording, etc., as well as magnets.
When semiconductor surfaces are irradiated with strong light pulses, the semiconductor emits electromagnetic wave pulses. When the width of the light pulse reaches about one femtosecond (10^-15 second), the frequency of the electromagnetic wave pulses reaches the terahertz (THz, 10^12 Hz) order. Our laboratory is developing the terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS), which is a new spectroscopic system using the emitted terahertz-pulse electromagnetic waves as the light source. This spectroscopic system is characterized by acquiring both the electric field strength and phase spectrum of measured electromagnetic waves simultaneously. For example, when transmission measurement is performed, both the real part and imaginary part of the refractive index of a specimen can be determined independently at the same time. With the THz-TDS, our laboratory is researching phonon polaritons (which are generated by combining lattice vibration with electromagnetic waves of ferroelectric crystal), photonic band structure, and boson peak in amorphous status. We are also measuring the optical properties of metallic photonic crystals and metamaterials. Teaching and Research Faculty
Through fundamental research of the structure, properties, and function of molecules and their set systems, and of response and reaction to stimulus, our laboratory fosters human resources who can contribute to structuring a society capable of sustainable development.
Analysis chemistry is a science field related to the experimental methods for separation and measurement of physical objects to understand their elements, compounds, and properties. Analysis chemistry not only gives methodological foundation to every chemistry field but also contributes to various activities in clinical analysis, food analysis, environmental analysis, etc. Our laboratory handles the classes, experiments, and exercises related to analysis chemistry, and also handles new analysis methods designed by combining laser light, ultrasonic waves, chemiluminescence, oil-water interface, and enzyme reactions with electrochemical analysis.
Inorganic chemistry handles all elements listed in the periodic table. However, the properties of all the elements cannot be understood in detail because there are an infinite number of elements and their compounds. Therefore, you will first learn about the basic principles of atom structure and its generation, inter-atom chemical binding, and molecular structure and its properties. Next, you will learn about the properties of each element and isotope, and their typical compounds, and will acquire an understanding about various compounds and chemical phenomena. You will master the fundamental experimental manipulations required for synthesis, purification, and identification of inorganic compounds, and will analyze solid crystal structure and molecular movement, will separate and concentrate isotopes, and will research the structure and properties of inorganic compounds related to living bodies.
Organic chemistry is a research field for handling organic compounds that mainly consist of carbon and hydrogen. The term “organic” came about because it originally indicated the materials generated from living objects. However, at present, organic compounds, of which the main components are carbon and hydrogen, include a wide range of components containing various elements such as nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, phosphorus, halogen, silicon, and boron. More concretely, various materials around us, for example, intravital compounds, medical and agrochemical products, perfume, cosmetics, and detergents, pigments and dyes, polymeric materials, fuel, and lubricating oil are organic compounds. The main research targets of our university are to synthesize new organic compounds and to find their properties and functionalities. Synthesizing new unknown materials is not easy in many cases, a new technique may be examined for synthesizing, and the mechanism of the synthesis reaction may be checked in detail. The more difficult the research is, the more you learn, and the greater pleasure you get when something is successful.
Physicochemical is a science field to model various chemical phenomena and to disclose their essence by using precise measurement instruments and mathematical expressions. In recent years, material chemistry has developed markedly, and newly developed chemical materials and chemical phenomena are being used in our daily life. Many of the important phenomena that determine their properties and efficiencies are caused by very thin (the thickness of several molecules) areas on the “interfacial surface” between two materials. Our target is to develop new measurement methods, to understand the molecular phenomena occurring on the interfacial surface, to control the phenomena on the surface or in the materials by using external fields such as magnetic fields, and to find new phenomena and new materials. Teaching and Research Faculty
The Geology Unit has a research target to understand various phenomena and the history of the earth's crust, and will elucidate the laws that control the geosphere system. This laboratory fosters human resources who can understand complicated natural phenomena occurring in the field, and can solve complicated natural problems by using physics and other knowledge and methodologies in various fields.
Geologic Science is a science field for understanding the past and present status of the earth, discovering the information necessary to think about our future based on the history of the earth, and supplying the results to society. We are asked to accumulate knowledge about the earth and to unravel the workings of nature in order to protect us from rapid earth-environment changes and various disasters and to address earth-scale problems. There are many types of earth activities, e.g., crustal movements, typhoons, earthquakes, and drought. Such phenomena seem to be non-related with each other, but they have a close relationship at various points. For example, climatic changes in Japan are related to the extreme changes of seawater temperature in the waters off South America (El Nino or La Nina). Such complicated earth activities show that phenomena thought to be completely non-related are actually closely related. Geologic Science unravels earth-environment changes by using the stratum, rocks, and fossils that recorded the past environment and history, finds the relationship between the phenomena, and predicts future aspects.
To understand earth activities is to know our present and future. There are various kinds of earth activities, from invisible crustal movements to large-scale volcanic activities and major earthquakes. The rocks forming the Northern Alps recorded crustal movements and magmatic activities caused by the past plate tectonic activity, but also caused by new volcanic activities such as in Mt. Yakedake. The Matsumoto Basin, which is known to have beautiful country views, was created by very active geologic faults, and it is still changing even now. Such earth activities have continued for a very long period - much longer than the existence of humans. To understand the magmatic activities and crustal movements that are currently occurring below the ground, the facts recorded in rocks and minerals must be found and their mechanism must be unraveled. The steady quest for earth activity records is a key to understanding the present and future. Teaching and Research Faculty
The Biology Unit is undertaking biological research that may surprise the world, from a macro viewpoint of thinking about various kinds of biology and evolution, and from a micro viewpoint of unique transmission, generation, and physiology.
(1) Measuring the local plant diversity (e.g., species density of pteridophyte) (2) Unraveling the mechanism of wide coexistence and multi-individual coexistence (3) Finding the internal properties of species, population, and community (e.g., coexistence of lichen) (4) Estimating the external factors according to the scale of coexisting regions (distribution resolution) (5) Measuring the size and shape of individuals (e.g., large body, complicated body) (6) Measuring the width and shape of survival areas (distribution and transition speed) (7) Comparing at the level of different living objects (e.g., gene, protein, cell, tissue, organ) (8) Researching the multi-kind, multi-individual, and multi-cell coexistence styles (9) Researching the inevitability and chance of coexistence (i.e., coexistence or competition)
Evolutionary Ecology addresses various research about evolution and biology of interspecific interaction. (1) Influence of geographical differences (of pollination bumblebee phase) on floral trait change of Montane plants (2) Mutual adaptation of five-party insect coexistence system related to myrmecophyte, and history of its phyletic evolution (3) Conflict of ant-ant cow predator and predator avoidance, and evolution of interspecies recognition chemicals (4) Opposing, adaptive evolution between ant cows (with soldier caste system) and night flies (as specialist predators) (5) Adaptation ecology of night flies specialized for parasitizing ants We are addressing the above themes by using various techniques such as fieldwork, outdoor operation experiments, indoor behavioral experiments, molecular phylogenetic tree creation, stable isotope ratio analysis, and body hydrocarbon analysis.
How did various properties of living things evolve? [Bilateral evolution] Animals have unsymmetrical viscera. Animals having viscera in right-left opposite directions do not evolve usually. Why? We are pursuing the mystery of shape and behavior symmetry by using the snail’s mirror images of mutation (it is generated in right-left opposite directions). [Mechanism of species formation] Various shapes of living things are transmitted to offspring by using genes. The reason why living things can keep various kinds of genes is that respective living things identify each other as the same kinds of living things and propagate themselves without crossing. The evolution of reproductive isolation, i.e., species formation (species differentiation), is the major cause of the diversity of living things. We are addressing how the properties providing reproductive isolation evolved.
In natural plant associations, many species coexist and affect each other. Plant associations are largely affected by weather conditions. Plant Economy is researching the plant-population maintenance mechanism, plant-association-structure forming mechanism, environmental adaptation of individual plants, vegetation-distribution formation mechanism, evaluation of the effects of global warming on vegetation, effects of nonnative plants on native plants, and other themes. We are mainly addressing woody plants and herbaceous plants in subalpine zones and alpine zones, but are also addressing plants in lower zones. We use various research techniques such as outdoor plant-population dynamics measurement, physiological ecology (photosynthesis, transpiration, etc.), dendrochronology, and genetic approaches. We also undertake research by combining outdoor measurements, indoor experiments, and cultivation experiments.
It can be considered that the present, diverse living-thing world was created through considerable trial and error, natural selection, and accidents in a long (3.8 billion years) life history. It is difficult to precisely unravel the evolutionary process in the past, but the system evolution field unravels the more-reliable phyletic evolution process through various approaches using phenotype similarity, morphogenesis (generation) process similarity, genetic information similarity. How did insects originate? How did they acquire the ability to fly? We are addressing phyletic evolution phonomena in various ways from the above “macroevolution” to species differentiation and local-population-level genetic differentiation.
Marchantia polymorpha is a troublesome plant because it is liable to overtake a garden. We are asked frequently how studying Marchantia polymorpha will help us in the future. It is said that plants advanced onto land more than 500 million years ago. It is considered that the members of Marchantia polymorpha were separated from other kinds of plants at an early moment in the terrestrial-plant evolution process and then evolved independently. Therefore, researching Marchantia polymorpha and comparing it with other terrestrial plants will provide a clue showing what are the early terrestrial plants and how the terrestrial plants evolved. Moreover, Marchantia polymorpha is attracting attention as a model plant of mosses because its cultivation method and molecular-biology experimental method are already established and its handling in experiments is easy. Therefore, we are using Marchantia polymorpha to research the function of the regulatory gene related to adaptation to terrestrial life. We also use Arabidopsis thaliana, which is a weed but famous as a model plant, to research the function of the gene that regulates morphogenesis and secondary metabolism.
Unraveling the distribution-area forming of living things largely depends on the movement, distribution, and topography of the species, and space-time understanding is necessary. In addition, an approach from a viewpoint of the evolutionary ecology regarding interspecific interaction is important. The distribution of freshwater fish is liberally restricted to freshwater areas. The distribution area and habitat range are historically changed and easily traced. Therefore, freshwater fish are good specimens to use to research the origins of the biota. The genetic information acquired from DNA analysis is not only a useful tool for inferring the phylogenetic relationship of species differentiation, but also useful to analyze biological population interaction such as crossing and competition. As a distribution-area-forming theme related to species differentiation, we are unraveling when and how various kinds of Pungitius, which are cold-water Gasterosteidae fishes, came to Japan in the topographical repetition in the glacial age. We also handle species interaction, especially the phenomenon in which Pseudorasbora parva of Cyprinidae has taken over the minute habitat of Pseudorasbora pumila pumila, which is a related species of Pseudorasbora parva, especially by crossing. Similarly, bass, which is a nonnative fish, has acquired more invasive properties by crossing with Florida black bass, which is also a nonnative fish. Thus, we are unraveling the nonnative-species invasion mechanism and its cause by combining the above observation results with genetic information and ecological information. In addition, we are trying to apply the acquired information to the extinction prediction of populations, so that it can support the conservation of endangered species.
Most vertebrates consist of males and females. In some species, males and females can be distinguished by appearance because of secondary sexual characteristics that occur mainly in mature individuals. Different from the secondary sexual characteristics, there is another distinguishing property called nuptial coloration, which can be identified only in the breeding period. How are these properties related to reproductive behaviors? In other species such as humans, sex is determined by the configuration of sex chromosomes. However, in the case of lower vertebrates, the genetic sex can be artificially differentiated into the other sex (induction to sex change). What is the mechanism of the sex change? We are advancing such research using various species of the Oryzias.
Using “coexistence” and “metabolite” as keywords, we are advancing research to unravel the strange properties of plants by using molecular biology and biochemistry. Teaching and Research Faculty
We are researching various phenomena of the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere on the earth's surfaces, from the viewpoint of environmental science (material cycle science).