On Saturday, an exhibition of 25 scientific photographs opened in the Tornai Solvay Garden in the Watermill Poetsfort. The exhibition is a precursor to the opening of the Brout-Englert-Lemaître Centre, which will take place at Tournay-Solvay Castle in September 2023. It is now fully restored.
“The 19th century castle fell into ruins after a fire,” explains Jean-Marie Freer, professor and director of research in theoretical physics at LB University. It has been empty since 1972 in the beautiful park, opposite the edge of the Sonian Forest.
“A few years ago, the Brussels region decided to restore the castle, just as François Englert was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. That’s when the idea came up to turn this into a meeting and discussion place for ULB, VUB, KU Leuven and UCL.”
According to Frère, the restoration will be completed in September 2023 at the earliest. “There is some delay, but for now the engineers and contractors are trying to get ready as quickly as possible.”
Both François Englert (ULB) and Robert Brout (ULB), founders of the Brout-Englert-Higgs field (BEH field or Higgs field for short, hypothetical energy field, which according to the theory causes the mass of elementary particles), but also, Canon Georges Lemaître (KU Leuven), who came up with the Big Bang theory, has always called for extensive cooperation between these universities, according to Professor Freer, although the universities are not always very close both ideologically and in terms of the language system.
To celebrate the creation of the Brout-Englert-Lemaître Centre, an exhibition of 25 scientific photographs, including portraits of the three scientists, was organized. These are displayed in the garden around the castle. For example, there is a photo of François Englert at CERN in Switzerland at the time the discovery of the Higgs boson was announced, as well as a photo of the discovery itself.
“In addition, there is also a picture of what our galaxy looks like,” says Professor Freer. “But to take a picture like this you have to leave our galaxy, which could take thousands of years. It’s basically a kind of geographic map, built from all the available data from the major stars in our galaxy.”
Next to each image is a QR code, which visitors can scan to get more information. But the intention is also, without further ado, to show the aesthetics of scientific images. Visitors can let themselves be surprised.