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Berkshire Hathaway executive donates $65 million to UC Santa Barbara

The vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has donated $65 million to a UC Santa Barbara physics institute -- the largest single gift in the university’s history.

Charlie Munger’s donation is funding a new visitor housing facility for the school’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, said Shelly Leachman, spokeswoman for UC Santa Barbara.

The three-story residence will house visiting scientists who participate in the institute’s programs, Leachman said. The school has hosted thousands of the world’s top scientists since 1979.

Munger said in a statement last week that the housing facility will help physicists know each other better and build trust, which is vital for reaching breakthroughs in the field.

“Now we can get people together from all over the world and these people can cross-fertilize each other,” Munger said. “Physics is getting so hard now, they need all the help they can get.”

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The institute’s mission is to bring together the world’s leading scientists to collaborate on the most challenging and exciting questions in physics, Lars Bildsten, director of the institute and the Gluck professor of theoretical physics at UC Santa Barbara, said in a statement.

Once the residence is complete, he said, the scientists will be able to continue their interactions “into the nights and weekends.”

“I’m confident we will see an increased number of collaborations and scientific progress,” Bildsten said.

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