Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The particle

Today I woke up and heard the expected Nobel Prize for Higgs particle. This particle always reminds me of the name of Robert Brout, the deceased professor who was alive unfortunately only until May 2011. Robert was the coauthor of one of the two papers that today brings a Nobel prize for its alive authors, i.e. Fran├žois Englert.

He was an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo and a senior researcher at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo during the time I was a grad student in these two places and naturally I was attending all of his courses and classes. I liked his view specially when it was coming to particle physics. He was very passionate about new concepts in physics. For instance, even after 40 years since John Bardeen, Leon Neil Cooper, and John Robert Schrieffer introduced the notion of Cooper pairs as the charge carriers in superconductors, Rob was still becoming very amazed explaining this concept. 

In 2007 in the linked room of the beautiful EIT building of the University of Waterloo, we were gathering around Robert and were talking to him after one of his classes. I remember that one of the student suddenly asked him the reason why he is so excited when he explains old ideas. With his gloomy eyes Robert looked at our eyes and said something similar to: "Nothing is old, everything is new for you as long as you do not know them. By the way at the same time a professor teaches science he is teaching his joys to the pupils too. What matters is not the knowledge, though."

Congrats to professors Higgs and Englert!


Robert McNees said...

A very nice reminiscence! I briefly shared office space with Robert Brout at PI. A wonderful fellow, and a great scientist.

Mohammad said...

Indeed Robert, he was a wonderful fellow! and yes I clearly remember you were sharing office at PI.

Matt said...

Nice advice and thanks for the word "similar to". I like it!