National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
Gesellschaftsstrasse 6 | CH-3012 Bern | Switzerland
  Tel. +41 (0)31 631 32 39

Mayer Lucio, Prof. Dr.

Numerical Laboratories, Institut für Computergestützte Wissenschaften, Universität Zürich
Subproject Leader 6.1
8057 Zürich
+41 44 635 61 98

Please give us a personal quote or a quote of a famous person (e.g. of Albert Einstein) that describes you and your life/work.
“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.” (Immanuel Kant)

Please describe your job in only one sentence and tell us what the most important goal of this work is.
Designing virtual laboratories with supercomputers to understand the origin and nature of the most important components of our Universe, and their relation, from how whole galaxies come together to how individual planets form and evolve.

How did you get into this research/work field?
I have always been fascinated by science since my childhood. First fascination was the past of our Earth and its lifeforms. The Natural History Museum in Milan, where I grew up, was my second home when i was a kid. The beautiful Planetarium from the 1930s was next to it, and this is where I discovered astronomy. Then for a long time I was compelled to become a theoretical physicist and work on quantum gravity, but I chose astrophysics because of the good mentors I met later on in my studies. Then the interest towards planet formation came when I moved to the US just after my PhD as a fellow supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program.

What would be the greatest discovery you would like to see in your life time?
Finding life on another planet and discovering the true nature of gravity.

You work for the NCCR PlanetS. What do you think will the NCCR enable you to do you couldn’t do without it?
There is an immense potential for synergies between experts of diverse science domains. This is exciting not only because we can do things that we could not do otherwise, but also because we can start thinking in a different way. And this is usually what brings major progress rather than simply incremental steps.

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