VENUE - L'Ecole de Physique des Houches

Les Houches School of Physics was founded in 1951 by a young French physicist, Cécile DeWitt-Morette. She wanted to help to rebuild her country, which, like so many others in the wake of the war, was lagging seriously behind in the teaching and practice of modern physics.

The dynamic and visionary Cécile DeWitt-Morette succeeded in building a school, with the few resources available, to which leading world specialists would come to share their knowledge with groups of around thirty students from different countries (mostly France and other European countries, but not only). The setting is idyllic, lying above the Chamonix valley, in full view of the Mont-Blanc mountains. However, back then, living conditions were very rudimentary: the sessions lasted eight weeks (the two months of the university summer holidays), staying in mountain chalets will no facilities, a few kilometres from Les Houches village.

The school has changed over the years, although some of its traditions have been preserved and it continues to attract world leaders in the field. The main events of the year remain the two summer schools (in-depth, month-long courses in July and August on innovative themes). These form a kind of post-doctoral school, which has remained something of a trademark for Les Houches. Various courses and shorter, more specialised conferences are organised throughout the year in the “Physics Centre”. Some are intended for all researchers (from beginners to experts) while others are primarily designed for post-graduate students (doctoral courses). Aside from the educational aspects, these meetings also enable the development of scientific collaborations. Effective professional and social networks are frequent by-products of Les Houches schools.

The school has kept up with the evolutions of science, opening up to peripheral fields, such as mathematics, earth sciences, chemistry and biology. The interactions between these disciplines are actually very often at the core of the issues investigated nowadays in Les Houches.


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