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Public lecture

« The usefulness of useless knowledge: Reflecting on the links between basic and applied research »

by Serge Haroche (Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris)

Place: Amphithéatre Schweitzer - Palais de la Musique et des Congrès - Place de Bordeaux - 67000 Strasbourg (see access map below)

Date et time: Saturday July 6th 2024 from 11:30 to 12:30 (access from 11:15)

The entry is free. The lecture is in French with simultaneous English translation.

Abstract: The quest for knowledge motivated by pure curiosity is at the root of all the inventions that have improved living conditions for mankind over the centuries. The great scientists who made fundamental scientific discoveries generally had no idea of the applications that would follow, often decades later. Conversely, technological developments throughout history have made it possible to observe the world with ever-greater precision, contributing to the constant questioning and advancement of fundamental knowledge. Fundamental and applied research are thus two sides of the same coin, inseparable from each other. This truth was analyzed in a book written before World War II by Abraham Flexner, founder of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, which welcomed many mathematicians and physicists driven out of Europe by Nazism, including Einstein, von Neumann and Gödel. For my talk, I have taken the somewhat provocative title of Flexner's book, which was a plea for fundamental research, supported by numerous examples drawn from the science of his time. A century later, fundamental research is more necessary than ever, and many current areas of research in physics vividly illustrate the ever-renewed links between basic and applied science.

About the speaker: Serge Haroche (born 11 September 1944) is a French physicist who was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics jointly with David J. Wineland for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems", a study of the particle of light, the photon. This and his other works developed laser spectroscopy. Since 2001, Haroche is a professor at the Collège de France and holds the chair of quantum physics. (Source: Wikipedia)