Physics Nobel Prize confirms SNSF’s longstanding funding decisions

09/Oct/2019

The Nobel Prize awarded to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz rewards pioneering work in Switzerland on exoplanets. Work which the SNSF has been supporting for a long time.

“This Nobel Prize rewards basic research which could only be financed by public funds,” emphasised Matthias Egger, president of the SNSF National Research Council. He added: “It demonstrates how worlds explored out of pure curiosity can inspire humanity. We are proud to have supported Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for many years.”

Grateful to the SNSF

Michel Mayor has been receiving financial support from the SNSF since 1977, and Didier Queloz since 1999 (and even 1989 as member of a project team). The discovery of the first exoplanet in 1995 gave additional momentum to this field of research in Switzerland, and the SNSF launched the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) “PlanetS” in 2014. Michel Mayor is member of the advisory board of the NCCR PlanetS, and Didier Queloz of the NCCR.

While interviewed after his Nobel Prize by Swiss television, Michel Mayor notably expressed his “gratitude to the SNSF and to the University of Geneva, who already financed our work back when research into exoplanets did not have the reputation it has today.”

Humanity’s dream

During an event at the SNSF in 2014, Michel Mayor explained the meaning and the purpose of his basic research: “Research on planets makes people dream and asks fundamental questions about the existence of life, questions we have been trying to answer since antiquity. It garners support throughout society for basic research.” For him, the National Centre of Competence PlanetS “represents an excellent instrument to coordinate research on planets in Switzerland and encourages collaboration between higher education institutions in this domain.”

A view shared by the press the morning after the Nobel Prize was awarded to the two Swiss nationals: “With the National Centre of Competence PlanetS, the Swiss National Science Foundation has been ensuring since 2014 that this promising field of research receives sufficient financial support,” writes the NZZ.

Contact persons at NCCR PlanetS

University of Bern
Barbara Vonarburg
Tel.: +41 31 631 32 39
E-mail barbara.vonarburg@space.unibe.ch

University of Geneva
Pierre Bratschi
Tel.: +41 22 379 23 54
E-mail Pierre.Bratschi@unige.ch