Gerard ’t Hooft receives the Niels Bohr Institute Medal of Honour, 2016

1 December 2016

Utrecht professor of theoretical physics, Nobel laureate Gerard ’t Hooft has been awarded the Niels Bohr Institute Medal of Honour, 2016 for his groundbreaking work on black holes, quantum gravity and quantum field theories.

“Gerard ’t Hooft is one of the world’s greatest living physicists. He is a great thinker and his work has had an extraordinary influence on physics," explains Charlotte Fløe Kristjansen, Professor of Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology at the Niels Bohr Institute. "It is virtually impossible to find a scientific article about theoretical high-energy physics without the name ’t Hooft being included, as many of the key concepts are named after him, for example, ’t Hooft monopoles, ’t Hooft operators and the ’t Hooft limit. Many of his ideas form the basis of modern physics concepts such as the renormalisation of quantum field theories and the holographic principle.” 

Charlotte Fløe Kristjansen explains that Gerard ’t Hooft is a good friend of the Niels Bohr Institute, which he has visited numerous times and held lectures and seminars, and despite his international fame and numerous awards and honours, he can always find time to attend events at the Niels Bohr Institute. Even when he had just received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1999 and everyone was competing to get a visit from Gerard ’t Hooft, he chose to visit the Niels Bohr Institute, where he on that occasion gave the first lecture in the series of Niels Bohr Lectures.

For this close connection to the Niels Bohr Institute and to honour Gerard ’t Hooft’s important scientific work, he has been awarded the Niels Bohr Institute Medal of Honour, 2016.

Niels Bohr

“Niels Bohr was an extremely prominent and influential researcher of atomic theories around the first half of the 20th century. Therefore, a medal that bears his name means a lot to a theoretical physicist. Working in Copenhagen, Niels Bohr was the one who first formulated an atomic model that could explain a lot about the behaviour of atoms, making him one of the founders of modern quantum mechanics,” says Gerard ’t Hooft. 

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Gerard 't Hooft (centre) is pictured in the historic Auditorium A where Niels Bohr delivered his lectures. In Bohr's time, it was customary that a popular theoretical presentation was rewarded with a trumpet fanfare and an unpopular one was shot down by a toy cannon.

Medal of Honour

Previous recipients of the Niels Bohr Institute Medal of Honour are:  Brian Schmidt (2015), Jérôme Chappellaz (2014), Fabiola Gianotti (2013), Ignacio Cirac (2012), Andre Geim (2011) and Leo Kadanoff (2010). 

Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark

Published by  D-ITP