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Standing ovation Nobel winner Mayor feted at home university

Swiss astrophysicist Michel Mayor

Swiss astrophysicist Michel Mayor, Nobel Prize 2019 in Physics, arrives at the ceremony Dies Academicus, at the University of Geneva

(Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Nobel Prize winner Michel Mayor was the star attraction as he attended the Dies Academicus at his alma mater, Geneva University, on Friday.

The Swiss and his colleague Didier Queloz were jointly awarded the Nobel Prizeexternal link in Physics for “the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star” on Tuesday. They shared the prize with Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles.

+ Read more about the Nobel announcement here

Mayor was back in Geneva on Friday for the eventexternal link which celebrates the university’s founding and includes a prize-giving ceremony, receiving a standing ovation as he came in.

He was also congratulated by many notable figuresexternal link in Swiss academia, including Sarah Springmann, rector of the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, which itself has 21 Nobel Prize laureatesexternal link (who have or had a connection to the university).

+ Why does Switzerland have so many Nobel Prize winners

At a press conference, Mayor explained that he was in Spain on a lecture tour when news of his win came in – there had hardly been any rumours this year so he decided not to wait on tenterhooks in Geneva. He was waiting an at airport. “It was a shock and his computer “exploded” with messages of congratulation from around the world. “I haven’t yet had the time to read everything,” Mayor admitted.

Among the messages was one from University of Geneva rector Yves Flückiger, who said that it would be great if Mayor could attend the Dies Academicus (Queloz sent a video message). “My Spanish colleagues were understanding,” Mayor said.


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