Previous speakers and artists

NOVEMBER 17-21, 2008

Education and collaboration in fundamental science as bridges between nations

Prof. Gerardus 't Hooft

Keynote Speaker

Professor Gerardus 't Hooft is a 1999 Nobel Laureate for Physics who is regarded as one of the most influential particle theorists in history, playing a leading role in the renaissance of high-energy physics in the late 20th century.

A Dutch physicist, Professor 't Hooft shared the 1999 Nobel Prize for Physics with Professor Martinus J.G. Veltman for their development of a mathematical model that enabled scientists to predict the properties of the subatomic particles that constitute the universe and at the same time the fundamental forces through which they interact. This work facilitated the finding of a new subatomic particle, the top quark, and established the standard model of highenergy physics.

Gerardus 't Hooft was a student of Professor Veltman at the University of Utrecht at a time when no single, acceptable theory existed to describe the sub-atomic particles. In the 1960s scientists had attempted to construct theories enabling them to view electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force as products of a single force, termed the electroweak force. The mathematical foundation, however, of these theories appeared to be seriously flawed.

In 1969 Gerardus 't Hooft, then still a PhD student, with Professor Veltman as his advisor, investigated a feature called "renormalization". This is a mathematical complication that often makes it very difficult to make a theory mathematically self-consistent. In 1971 Gerardus 't Hooft published two articles that represented a major advance toward the goal. The two scientists then tested their ideas using a computer program designed by Professor Veltman. These results enabled them to establish the rules for building a theory and identify the correct theory for the electroweak force. This theory predicted the existence of what are now called the W and Z particles, whose properties could now be calculated.

Dramatic experimental confirmations from 1973 onwards showed that the theoreticians were on the right track. The "t Hooft-Veltman theory allowed scientists to calculate the physical properties of other particles, including the mass of the top quark, which was directly observed in 1995. The picture that physicists constructed along these lines is now known as "The Standard Model". Today's version of this model is so precise that no deviation from it could be detected despite considerable advances made in the technology of the experimental investigations in large laboratories. Yet we know that the model will have to be modified one day, so the research continues.

Gerardus 't Hooft earned his doctorate in physics at the University of Utrecht in 1972 and five years later became a professor there. He has also been a visiting professor at numerous other institutions, including Duke and Boston Universities.

Having carried out research into gauge theories in particle physics, black holes and other aspects of quantum physics, the asteroid 9491 Thooft has been named in Professor 't Hooft's honor, and he has written a constitution for its future inhabitants. Professor 't Hooft believes in the importance of establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon. Besides being one the world's most accomplished scientists, Professor 't Hooft is also a science fiction writer. "Playing with planets" is among his latest publications.


Monday, November 17, 2008 :

10:00 Keynote speech and dialogue at the Open University Malaysia (OUM) in Kuala Lumpur
Information and free seat reservation:
phone (03) 2773-2710, fax (03) 2697-8746, email

14:30 Dialogue with researchers on "Strategies to strengthen science education and collaboration towards achieving excellence in science, technology and innovation" hosted by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) at the Theatrette of the Open University Malaysia (OUM) in Kuala Lumpur
Information and free seat reservation:
phone (03) 2694-9898, fax (03) 2694-5858, email,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008:
14:30 Keynote speech and dialogue at the University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) in Kuching
Information and free seat reservation:
phone (082) 665-105, 581-222, fax (082) 665-115, email

Friday, November 21, 2008:
10:00 Dialogue with high school students at the NIST International School in Bangkok (not a public event)