2014 Dirac Lecture & Medal Presentation

Professor Serge Haroche


Tuesday, 9 December, 2014 -
17:45 to 19:30


Tyree Room, John Niland Scientia Building

Type of event: 

Special Event

Audience / Guests: 

Public / All


Nobel Laureate Professor Serge Haroche, Collège de France in Paris, will be awarded the Dirac Medal and give the 2014 Dirac Public Lecture.


The beauty and serendipity of blue sky research.

Mankind has always been fascinated by fundamental questions about the universe and our place in it. This has led to the development of blue sky research – research driven by mere curiosity with successes that are among the jewels of our civilized world. There is indeed an aesthetic truth in a scientific theory, comparable to the gratuitous beauty of a piece of art. In addition, basic science is essential to the development of new technologies. The knowledge accumulated by the fundamental approach to science has led, often in unpredictable ways, to practical applications which have revolutionized our daily lives. Professor Haroche will illustrate the long road from fundamental discoveries to technological innovations by a few examples taken from his own field of research – atomic and optical physics. He will also reflect on the dangers that blue sky research faces in our uncertain global world and explain why it is essential to protect it and to make it thrive, in spite of the present economic difficulties.


History of the Dirac Lecture:

The Dirac Medal for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics is awarded by the UNSW and the Australian Institute of Physics. The Lecture and the Medal commemorate the visit to the university in 1975 of Professor Dirac, who gave five lectures. The lectures were subsequently published as a book Directions of Physics. Professor Dirac donated the royalties from this book to the University for the establishment of the Dirac Lecture and Prize. The prize includes a silver medal and honorarium. It was first awarded in 1979.