Professor Michel Mayor
2005 Prize awarded to Professor Michel Mayor, Astrophysicist
Thursday, February 24, 2005 at 6:00 pm, Uni-Dufour, Geneva
The Foundation’s Prize for Geneva is in addition to the many international distinctions that Professor Mayor has received for his work, including the Balzan Prize, the Albert Einstein Medal, and most recently the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.
Who is he? Charles Kleiber, Secretary of State for Science and Research, concluded his speech of praise with these words: “Michel Mayor is a happy man”. Pierre Muller, Mayor of the City of Geneva and Martine Brunschwig-Graf, President of the State Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, said: “He is a man who lives the extraordinary on a daily basis, a researcher, a scientist who proves once again, if it were necessary, that Geneva, for a very long time, that is to say since the creation of the Academy – it will become our University – is also a city of science.
The 400 or so guests present at the ceremony will undoubtedly remember Michel Mayor’s extremely sympathetic character and his uncommon ability to take them with him, in all simplicity, into his fascinating world.
Professor Michel Mayor owes his worldwide reputation to his research. His revolutionary discovery in 1995 allowed the identification of the first planet outside our solar system, called an exoplanet. A discovery that opened a new path in astrophysics. Today, a multitude of other exoplanets have been identified. Michel Mayor, known as the “Star Hunter”, was able to rely on his remarkable team – Didier Quelloz, André Baranne, André Maeder, to name but a few – from the Geneva Observatory. His name will remain in the history of astrophysics and enriches an already long list of Geneva scientists.
Astronomical research in Geneva has a long and rich tradition. Created in 1772 by the astronomer Jacques André Mallet, the Geneva Observatory was directed by Michel Mayor from 1998 to 2004. Together with the Laboratory of Astronomy of the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, it constitutes a center of gravity for astrophysics in Switzerland, in the fields of teaching, research and public services.