Louis Michel, Physicist
Permanent professor at IHES between 1962 and 1992
Louis Michel worked on the symmetry of the laws of nature, on particle theory, and on the unification of fundamental interactions. Louis Michel was, like Eugene Wigner, one of the great promoters of the use of group theory in physics, both in the theory of elementary particles and in crystallography.
Born on May 4, 1923, in Roanne (Loire, France) and a graduate engineer from the École Polytechnique, Professor Louis Michel obtained his thesis on the theory of weak interaction at the University of Manchester in 1953. He started teaching in Lille, then in Orsay, and in 1958 he created the Centre de Physique Théorique at the École Polytechnique.
Only four years after the creation of IHES by Léon Motchane, he joined the Institute in 1962 and became the first permanent professor in theoretical physics at IHES. Then, he oriented his work towards crystallography. Major world figure in the theory of elementary particles, he had many international students.
Louis Michel was also president of the Société Française de Physique from 1978 to 1980 and was doctor honoris causa of the universities of Louvain and Barcelona. In 1984, he received the Wigner Medal, administered by The Group Theory and Fundamental Physics Foundation, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the understanding of physics through group theory.
On December 30, 1999, Louis Michel passed away. With 30 years at IHES, he marked the history of the Institute. In order to honor his memory, IHES created the Louis Michel Chair for distinguished long-term visitors.
Félix-Robin Prize (1975)
Member of the French Academy of Sciences (1979)
Wigner Medal (1984)