A few words about Robert Brout

On 3 May 2011, Professor Robert Brout passed away. He was a brilliant physicist whose name is closely associated with those of François Englert and Peter Higgs.

Robert Brout was born in New York in 1928. He died at Linkebeek on 3 May 2011. He held a Doctor’s degree in Science, having studied at the University of New York and then at Colombia University. Most of his career was spent in Belgium alongside François Englert, whom he met in 1959. As a young graduate of the ULB, François Englert had obtained the post of research associate in the laboratory of Robert Brout, who was then Professor at Cornell University. The two men returned together to the ULB in 1961: François Englert as a lecturer and Robert Brout with a Guggenheim Fellowship, on leave from Cornell University. The temporary leave became permanent:
Robert Brout settled in Brussels and was definitively incorporated into the ULB in 1972; beginning in 1980, with François Englert he jointly directed the Theoretical Physics Service in the Faculty of Science.

Robert Brout’s research in elementary particles soon brought him international recognition. In 1964, Robert Brout and François Englert explained the difference between basic interactions.

Robert Brout was a brilliant physicist and was awarded various prestigious prizes, including the European Physical Society Prize in 1997, The Wolf Prize in 2004 and, recently, the Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society. His name had also been put forward for the Nobel Prize. Alas, Robert Brout passed away shortly before the possible discovery of the scalar boson which, if confirmed, would open the door to the Nobel Prize.

Apart from his research in theoretical physics, Robert Brout is also internationally renowned for his work on statistical mechanics, basic interactions and cosmology. With his colleagues Edgard Gunzig and François Englert, he is also behind the concept of “primordial inflation”, an exponential expansion considered to have occurred just after the universe came into being, which could explain why the universe seems to be so isotropic. During his last years, Robert Brout was studying what happened before the Big Bang and the origin of the universe.

He was also a music lover and an enthusiastic gardener. His colleagues nicknamed him "the Gardener of Eden" in a book to celebrate his sixtieth birthday.

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François Englert and Robert Brout