Louis Michel (physicist) - Biography


Michel completed his studies at the École Polytechnique in Paris. After the World War II, he was in Manchester, where he worked on weak interactions. Back in France, he was teaching in Lille and Orsay before creating the “Centre de Physique Theorique” of École Polytechnique. In 1962 he became a permanent professor at IHES (Institut de Hautes Etudes Scientifiques) in Bures sur Yvette, where he remained until his retirement, and as an Emeritus until his death.

Louis Michel was President of the “Societé Française de Physique” between 1978 and 1980, and a member of the Academie des Sciences since 1979. In 1984 he was awarded the Wigner Medal.

His scientific activities in the domain of Theoretical Physics encompassed many fields, from elementary particles and High Energy Physics to Crystals, and provided pioneering insights in spontaneous symmetry breaking in many contexts. His name is associated to the Bargmann-Michel-Telegdi equation describing spin evolution in a magnetic field, the theory of phase transitions as a symmetry-breaking, the Michel–Radicati theory for the SU(3) octet, and more generally his geometric theory of spontaneous symmetry breaking, and to several results in crystallography.

After his death, the IHES created the Chaires Louis Michel chair for distinguished long-term visitors to honour his memory.

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