Celebration of the Centenary of Louis Michel's Birth (1923-1999) - IHES
annonce commémoration Louis Michel Event

Celebration of the Centenary of Louis Michel’s Birth (1923-1999)

The year 2023 marks the centenary of the birth of Louis Michel, the first Professor of Theoretical Physics at IHES. On this occasion, Thibault Damour and Slava Rychkov organize a one-day commemoration on May 15, 2023, at IHES.

Several presentations will be given by lecturers linked to Louis Michel or to his work:

  • Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, CNRS-IHES
  • Henri Epstein, CNRS-IHES
  • Denis Gratias, CNRS-Institut de Recherche de Chimie Paris
  • David Ruelle, IHES
  • Slava Rychkov, IHES
  • Marjorie Senechal, Smith College
  • Boris Zhilinskii, Univ. du Littoral Côte d’Opale


To participate in the commemoration of Louis Michel’s centenary, registration is free but mandatory on the dedicated web page.

Louis Michel (1923-1999),
Permanent Professor at IHES from 1962 to 1992.

portrait de Louis Michel, professeur permanent à l'IHES de 1962 à 1992Louis Michel was the first Permanent Professor in Theoretical Physics at IHES, which he joined in 1962. His scientific work made pioneering contributions in a wide area of theoretical physics, ranging from particle physics to crystallography. At IHES, Louis Michel found an appropriate setting to develop the leitmotiv of his scientific work: to deepen the mathematical roots underlying the symmetries of the laws of nature.

For a detailed analysis of Louis Michel’s scientific work, see the website created on the occasion of his 90th birthday, and the book Symmetries in Nature: The Scientific Heritage of Louis Michel (World Scientific Series in 20th Century Physics) edited by Thibault Damour, Ivan Todorov and Boris Zhilinskii (2014).

In order to honor his memory, IHES created in 2000 the Louis Michel Chair of Theoretical Physics for long-term visitors.

The main themes of his research at IHES – and his main collaborators – are:

  • Relations between internal symmetries and relativistic invariance,
  • Theory of spontaneous symmetry breaking and its application to high energy physics and the Jacobi ellipsoid, with Luigi A. Radicati, then to condensed matter physics, with Maurice Kléman and Gérard Toulouse,
  • A general formalism for the description of the polarization of particles of any spin, with Manuel G. Doncel and Pierre Minnaert,
  • Mathematical crystallography and representation of crystallographic groups, with Jan Mozrzymas and Boris Zhilinskii,
  • New applications of symmetry to energy bands in solids, with Joshua Zak,
  • The geometry of Euclidean lattices, with Marjorie Senechal.

Louis Michel played a significant role in the reconstruction of French Theoretical Physics in the 1950s. The list of his students bears witness to this in a striking way: Claude Bouchiat, Claude de Calan, Manuel Doncel, Henri Epstein, Gérard Flamand, Dimitri Fotiadi, Gérard Fuchs, Jean-Loup Gervais, Pierre Minnaert, Jean Nuyts, Eduardo de Rafael, Houcheng Rouhaninejad (= Henri Roane), Roland Seneor, Paul Sorba, and Raymond Stora (last in alphabetical order but first in chronological order).

For more information, see La Vie et l’Œuvre Scientifique de Louis Michel (in French), and the website.