On October 2, 2018, the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Gérard Mourou, professor and member of the Haut-collège
of École Polytechnique for having co-invented, with Donna Strickland, the Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) technique. This technique rendered possible the amplification of ultra-short laser pulses up to extremely high peak powers, equal to a petawatt or even more. Today, the CPA technique is used in a variety of fields, including medicine, micro-machining, or even for fundamental research in high-energy physics.
A debate has surfaced around a parodic and offset video, one that does not originate from École Polytechnique. This video conveys a degrading image of women, an image that the institution does not condone. École Polytechnique is in agreement with the comments made by the general-secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on this particular subject.
École Polytechnique continuously implements numerous initiatives intended to encourage middle and high school-level female students to pursue specializations and future careers in science. The Diversity and Success Center at École Polytechnique participates in annual events dedicated to the fight against self-censorship and stereotypes through the use of thematic workshops, particularly for the annual Gender Equality Week. The institution gives equal attention and consideration to the research performed by both female and male researchers in its Research Center.
École Polytechnique emphasizes that it did not commission, finance, produce, or direct this video. Funding from École Polytechnique’s Research Center is allocated with the objective of developing fundamental and applied research of the highest level.
Comment from Gérard Mourou:« I am sincerely and profoundly sorry for the image conveyed by this video. At the time that this video was made, the objective was to popularize the research being done within the framework of the ELI project and to break down the austerity that the field of science can sometimes transmit.
It is important that the scientific community recognize the role as well as the importance of each and every researcher, regardless of gender. I am honored that the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Donna Strickland, a woman for whom I have a tremendous amount of both respect and admiration.
This Prize rewards our joint work, which, stands today as the vital technology for all high-power laser installations in the world. It has resulted in the development of a wide variety of essential applications, notably in the medical field. »
ABOUT ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE / École Polytechnique, also known as L’X, is the leading French institution combining top-level research, academics, and innovation at the cutting-edge of science and technology. Its various undergraduate and graduate-level programs – Bachelor of Science, Ingénieur Polytechnicien (Master’s level program), Master’s, and PhD – are highly selective and promote a culture of excellence with a strong emphasis on science, anchored in humanist traditions. As a widely internationalized university, École Polytechnique offers a variety of international programs and attracts a growing number of foreign students and researchers from around the globe (currently 36% of students and 39% of faculty members).
École Polytechnique offers an exceptional education to prepare bright men and women to excel in top-level key positions and lead complex and innovative projects which meet the challenges of 21st century society, all while maintaining a keen sense of their civil and social responsibilities. With its 22 laboratories, 21 of which are joint research units with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the École Polytechnique Research Center explores the frontiers of interdisciplinary knowledge to provide major contributions to science, technology, and society. École Polytechnique is also a pioneer and leading institution of the major scientific and economic cluster, Paris-Saclay, bringing together top French higher education and research institutions, as well as R&D centers of prominent international companies.