What were you doing when you heard about the Nobel Prize announcement? How has it changed your life? What makes a successful physicist? Where is particle physics going now?
Prof. François Englert, the famous Belgian theoretical physicist and joint winner with Prof. Peter Higgs of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics, visited the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) on June 6th and discussed these and other questions during a lively discussion with nearly one hundred scientific staff and students.
Prof. CHEN Hesheng chaired the discussion and gave a short introduction to IHEP’s scientific activities and future plans. Prof. CHEN Guoming reported the latest progress of the CMS experiment at LHC.
During the discussion, Prof. Englert received a warm welcome from the IHEP staff and students. While answering the questions, he explained that the discovery of the Higgs particle was not the end of particle physics but the beginning of the new physics. In terms of research areas in which a future Nobel Prize may be likely, he believes that neutrino physics, dark matter or cosmology could be possible topics. Prof. Englert also shared with the audience his opinions on super-symmetry, super-strings and inflation theories.
When asked about the day the Nobel Prize was announced, Prof. Englert admitted that he had guessed he would be a Nobel Prize recipient after CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs particle in July 2012. The day of the Nobel Prize announcement, he was waiting for the phonecall while watching the online broadcast of the ceremony, with the call coming through just five minutes ahead of the final announcement of the prize.
Talking about the qualities necessary for a good physics student, he highlighted three things: an intuition or instinct for physics, the ability to work independently, and an unquenchable curiosity about physics.
After the discussion, Prof. ZHAN Wenlong, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, met with Prof. Englert and they exchanged views on possible future cooperation between CAS and the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
Prof. François Englert（image by LIU Jie, IHEP）
The face-to-face discusstion at IHEP (image by LIU Jie, IHEP)