French mathematician to lead the European Research Council

Bourguignon Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, a mathematician working in the field of differential geometry, has been named as the next president of the European Research Council. Bourguignon was for almost two decades the director of the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques just outside Paris. Bourguignon will commence his presidency at the end of December.

Launched in 2007, the ERC funds frontier research across all fields of research.

ERC website

Four academics in Poland arrested for fraud

police A professor at the Institute of Maths and Computer Science at the Wroclaw University of Technology, has been arrested for fraud. According to the public prosecutor’s office in Legnica, south west Poland, the sum of money involved could be as high as 1.8 million zloty (429,300 euro).

Professor Adam J (full name withheld due to Polish law) and three colleagues received money from the university and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education for research in the field of computer science. The claim is that this research was not conducted and that they simply pocketed the money.

Four academics arrested for fraud (


arts Prof Matilde Marcolli from Caltec has written some rather interesting and useful notes on how to defend yourself while giving a mathematics talk. Great advice and rather entertaining also. We are introduced to several bad-guys that one must defeat in the arena of mathematics seminars…

The game is now to identify each of the bad-guys found in your department and use the “moves” Marcolli suggests to defend against their attack when giving a talk.

Good luck if you are giving a talk soon.

The (Martial) Art of Giving Talks (opens pdf)

François Englert and Peter W. Higgs win the Nobel prize

François Englert and Peter W. Higgs were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 for the theory of how fundamental particles acquire mass on the 8th october. Both Englert (with the deceased Robert Brout) and Higgs independently in 1964 proposed a mechanism for the elementary particles in to acquire mass; the so called Higgs mechanism.

On 4th July 2012, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider announced they have observed a new particle in the mass region around 126 GeV. This fits well with the predicted Higgs particle. However further work is needed to determine if this particle is exactly the Higgs as proposed in the standard model or something a little more exotic.

Higgs englert
Peter Higgs. Photo by G-M Greuel François Englert. Photo by Pnicolet

I am overwhelmed to receive this award… I would also like to congratulate all those who have contributed to the discovery of this new particle.

Peter Higgs talking to the BBC.

The standard model
Today the standard model, with the Higgs sector, is one of the key stones in our understanding of the fundamental forces of nature. The standard model describes electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces. The other key stone of fundamental physics is Einstein’s general relativity which describes the gravitational force.

The 2013 Nobel prize in physics

Peter Higgs-facts

François Englert – Facts