Dirac Medal 2007
Jean Iliopoulos, particle physicist - Dirac medal winner for 2007
The 2007 Dirac Medal, one of the most prestigious awards in theoretical physics and mathematics, will be awarded on August 8th to two well-known physicists: Jean Iliopoulos, Emeritus Senior Researcher at CNRS in the Laboratoire de physique théorique (LPTENS, CNRS / ENS Paris /Université Paris VI) and Luciano Maiani, professor at the Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza" and former General Director of CERN. They were the first to posit the existence of the "charm quark", and this medal is a reward for their joint work on this particle. Their research was of great importance in constructing the "Standard Model" theory, and has given substance to modern elementary particle theory.
The Dirac Medal was created in 1985 by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), and is one of the most important awards in theoretical physics and mathematics. It is awarded each year in honor of the physicist Paul Dirac, on August 8, the anniversary of the date of birth of this internationally renowned scientist who received the Nobel Prize in 1933. It is given to a scientist whose research has brought about major progress in theoretical physics or mathematics.
For this 42nd edition, two prize winners share the honor for their work in particle physics. Jean Iliopoulos and Luciano Maiani are joint authors describing the mechanism know as "GIM" (from the name of the three authors Glashow-Iliopoulos-Maiani). Their specific contribution was to introduce a new fourth species of quark (particles that make up hadrons), called the "charm quark". A few years later, the existence of these elementary particles was proved. Their work, which is of international importance, helped develop the "Standard Model", one of the fundamentals of modern particle theory.
The Director General of CNRS, Arnold Migus, congratulated Jean Iliopoulos as being "behind several major theoretical predictions which have been a turning point in particle physics and cosmology today. The award is a great honor for CNRS, because it recognizes a great scientist and also a great teacher who has trained several generations of young physicists, who in turn have made France a world leader in physics".
Jean Iliopoulos was born in 1940, and graduated from the Athens Polytechnic University in 1962. He was one of the founders of the Theoretical Physics Laboratory, which he directed from 1991 to 1995 and from 1998 to 2002. His research was mainly concerned with high energy theoretical physics and the physics of elementary particles. In particular, he was one of the pioneers of supersymmetry, the hypothetical symmetry between fermions and bosons. Showing this symmetry is one of the goals of particle accelerators, particularly the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). Recently, Jean Iliopoulos studied the quantum field theory of gravitation, an area which is at the very heart of modern physics. He has been a member of the Academy of Sciences since November 12 2002.
Dirac Medal 2007