Stellenbosch University (SU) Physics student JC Louw is amongst 20 top South African scientists to attend the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting from June 30 to July 5 in Lindau, Germany.
Nominated by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) to attend the physics dedicated event, the 20 were selected after a multistage international selection process. The 20 South Africans will join 580 young scientists from 88 countries, with 42 Nobel laureates at the meeting.
JC, who matriculated from the Deutsche Internationale Schule Kapstadt (DSK), says he became interested in physics in Grade 10 after reading about quarks, the particles that make up neutrons and protons, in Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.
He then delved into the field and started reading works of the renowned theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. “He inspired me to become deeply curious about the universe and how it works, which led to me studying theoretical physics."
His MSc under Prof Michael Kastner from the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP) was on open quantum systems, which is the study of how many different small and cold particles interact with one another. JC explains: “This field is a subset of many body quantum mechanics which I will be continuing with as part of my PhD research at the University of Göttingen in Germany. In particular we will try to explain seemingly unphysical characteristics of the SYK model, which describes strange materials such as the aptly called strange metals as well as aspects of black holes."
He says he cannot wait to meet some of his physics heroes at the Lindau meeting: “This is an awesome opportunity. I hope to learn a lot of new physics in the many lectures given by Nobel Laureates every day. There will be many opportunities to interact with the Laureates and to ask them various questions. I already have many questions, especially about quantum optics and topological phases that I wish to ask experts such as Steven Chu and Duncan Haldane."
He says he is thankful for six amazing years in the Department of Physics at SU, and grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity created by ASSAf and the Lindau Foundation to attend this event.