Joël Scherk

Joël Scherk

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Joël Scherk (often cited as Joel Scherk) was a French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 theoretical physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

 who studied string theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

 and supergravity
Supergravity
In theoretical physics, supergravity is a field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity. Together, these imply that, in supergravity, the supersymmetry is a local symmetry...

. Together with John H. Schwarz, he figured out that string theory was a theory of quantum gravity
Quantum gravity
Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...

 in 1974. In 1978, together with Eugène Cremmer
Eugène Cremmer
Eugène Cremmer, born in 1942, is a French physicist. He is directeur de recherche at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. In 1978, together with Bernard Julia and Joël Scherk, he co-developed 11 dimensional supergravity theory and proposed a mechanism of spontaneous compactification in field theory.-...

 and Bernard Julia
Bernard Julia
Bernard Julia is a French theoretical physicist who has made contributions to the theory of supergravity. He graduated from Université Paris-Sud in 1978,and is directeur de recherche at the Ecole Normale Supérieure...

, Scherk constructed the Lagrangian
Lagrangian
The Lagrangian, L, of a dynamical system is a function that summarizes the dynamics of the system. It is named after Joseph Louis Lagrange. The concept of a Lagrangian was originally introduced in a reformulation of classical mechanics by Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton known as...

 and supersymmetry
Supersymmetry
In particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners...

 transformations for supergravity
Supergravity
In theoretical physics, supergravity is a field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity. Together, these imply that, in supergravity, the supersymmetry is a local symmetry...

 in eleven dimensions, which is one of the foundations of M-theory
M-theory
In theoretical physics, M-theory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11-dimensional theory unites all five string theories...

.

He died unexpectedly, and in tragic circumstances, months after the supergravity
Supergravity
In theoretical physics, supergravity is a field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity. Together, these imply that, in supergravity, the supersymmetry is a local symmetry...

 workshop at the State University of New York at Stony Brook
State University of New York at Stony Brook
The State University of New York at Stony Brook, also known as Stony Brook University, is a public research university located in Stony Brook, New York, on the North Shore of Long Island, about east of Manhattan....

 that was held on 27-29 September 1979. The workshop proceedings were dedicated to his memory, and stated that he suffered from diabetes, and got stuck somewhere without his insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

, and went into a coma
Coma
In medicine, a coma is a state of unconsciousness, lasting more than 6 hours in which a person cannot be awakened, fails to respond normally to painful stimuli, light or sound, lacks a normal sleep-wake cycle and does not initiate voluntary actions. A person in a state of coma is described as...

.

The high-energy theory library of the Laboratoire de Physique Théorique at École Normale Supérieure
École Normale Supérieure
The École normale supérieure is one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles...

 (Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

) is dedicated in his honor. A conference
Academic conference
An academic conference or symposium is a conference for researchers to present and discuss their work. Together with academic or scientific journals, conferences provide an important channel for exchange of information between researchers.-Overview:Conferences are usually composed of various...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, on 16-20 October 2006, celebrating 30 years of Supergravity
Supergravity
In theoretical physics, supergravity is a field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity. Together, these imply that, in supergravity, the supersymmetry is a local symmetry...

, was dedicated to Scherk.

Sources & references