François Englert


Interview, December 2013

Interview with 2013 Nobel Laureate in Physics François Englert, 6 December 2013.

Read the interview

François Englert’s work in simple terms.

François Englert on why he went into science.

François Englert on his role model.

François Englert on breakthroughs in research.

François Englert on the standard model.

François Englert on how he heard he had been awarded the Nobel Prize.

Copyright © Nobel Media AB 2013
Nobel Minds 2013

The 2013 Nobel Laureates met at the Grünewald Hall in the Stockholm Concert Hall in Stockholm on 11 December 2013 for the traditional round-table discussion and TV program ‘Nobel Minds’. The Nobel Laureates discussed the discoveries for which they’ve been honored, how these can be applied in a practical way, and the role of science in today’s society. The discussion was hosted by Zeinab Badawi of the BBC.

Telephone press interview, 8 October 2013

Telephone press interview with François Englert following the announcement of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics on 8 October 2013. The interviewer is Staffan Normark, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Listen to the interview

Interview transcript

[SN] Are you there with us Professor Englert?

[FE] Yes, I am on the phone.

[SN] Good day and congratulations, how do you feel right now?

[FE] Well, thank you very much. I feel very well of course … I thought first I had to make a low festivity because I thought that I didn’t see any announcements that I didn’t have it. But now I’m very happy.

[SN] (laughs) Yes. So I’m sitting here in the Session Hall at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and I have a large group of people from the media (FE interrupts: Yes) and the international press. And are you ready to take some questions from the press Professor Englert?

[FE] Yes please, I will try to do what I can.

[SN] Okay, I have a question there.

[MGA] Yes hello Professor Englert. My name is Maria Gunther Axelsson and I’m writing for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter and you and I met this summer in Stockholm if you remember. And congratulations to the prize.

[FE] Thank you very much.

[MGA] Yes and I have a question for you. (FE: Yes) Now, when the Standard Model is complete, what is the biggest question …

[FE] Sorry, I didn’t hear well, what did you say?

[MGA] Now that the Standard Model is complete (FE: Yes), which in your opinion is the biggest question remaining to be solved in Physics?

[FE] Well, there are a few big questions, right. First the question which is still not solved is whether there is broken supersymmetry which would manifest itself at energies which have not yet been reached. This is the critical point for what will happen. But of course, there are other problems, some of them might be directly related, some other indirectly or maybe not related, which is the problem of dark matter is probably somehow hopefully related to particle physics. The problem of dark energy is a more tricky problem, which, one way or another, leads us to what is, in my opinion, the most and the fundamental problem which is not solved today, despite some progress, which is the problem of quantum gravity, of the quantization of gravity.

[SN] Do we have some other question?

[K] Hi, um. Congratulations. My name is Kounteya and I’m from the Times of India. Very interestingly, the press release here starts with the line “Here at last!” Professor, how true is that?

[FE] I’m sorry I didn’t hear what you said.

[K] I was saying that the press release here talks about … the first line in the release says “Here at last!” How true is that?

[FE] Huh. I’m afraid … maybe it’s my phone or maybe it’s my ear, but I don’t understand exactly what you say.

[SN] We have a question? Yes, do you have a microphone?

[JR] Hello. Congratulations, my name is Joanna Rose, I work for a Swedish popular science magazine Forskning och Framsteg, and I would like to ask you, in the late sixties, when you worked on theory, did you ever think about the discovery of the Higgs Boson?

[FE] Oh yes, but the whole thing at the time … well first the late sixties was not really when the thing was done, it was the beginning of the sixties and in 64 it was published after a lot of thought. At that time, we saw that we were going to solve, this way, the problem of short-edge forces, which was completely unsolved at that time and which obviously is related to the problem of the origin of mass. So the boson itself is something that is the experimental test of the existence of the whole mechanism, and one had to wait. Certainly we had to wait first before the theory itself was applied to something which is a Standard Model, which took some time. It took some time to first prove the consistency of our theory, which was up to beginning of the seventies. And during the seventies, the Standard Model was built up. And only after that could one look for a test, because the Standard Model was wonderfully verified except for the missing element which was that boson, whose condensation is what gives the mass to particles and the short-range forces.

[SN] Okay, do we have another question please?

[M] Yes, hi, congratulations. This is Malin from the Associated Press (FE: Thank you). Of course this was highly-anticipated by all of us. But how did you feel when you found out about the award and what are you planning to do with the prize money?

[FE] Ah, well I’ll answer first the second question, I don’t know. That’s not my concern now (laughs). The first part of the question was what? About?

[M] Just, how does it feel to have won a Nobel Prize? I mean …

[FE] Well, you may imagine that this is not very unpleasant of course. (laughter) I’m very, very happy to have that recognition of that extraordinary reward … so I am very happy of it. What can I say more?

[M] Okay, thank you.

[SN] Okay, I think we have a final question there.

[DL] Hell this is David Landiss with The Local here in Stockholm. Congratulations Professor Englert. A question about your co-winner. I’m wondering when you last spoke to Professor Higgs and what you plan to say to him when you see him next?

[FE] Ah, well I saw him, actually … the first time I saw him was in the 4th July conference at CERN, we never met before, but since then we met, and we met in particularly the EPS conference (2013 Europhysics conference on High Energy Physics), and what I am going to say to him of course I’m going to congratulate him (laughter), because I think he did very important and excellent work.

[SN] Okay, thank you very much. And thank you very much, I think this was the last question from the press here, and thank you Professor Englert. And once again, warm congratulations, and we look forward to see you in Stockholm in December for the Nobel Prize Ceremony.

[FE] Yes, thank you.

[SN] Thank you, bye.

[FE] Goodbye.

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