Cécile DeWitt-Morette (left) with Bryce DeWitt (right)
|Born||December 21, 1922
|Residence||United States of America|
|Institutions||Institute for Advanced Study
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Texas at Austin
|Known for||École de Physique des Houches|
|Notable awards||Marcel Grossmann Award|
Cécile Andrée Paule DeWitt-Morette (born December 21, 1922) is a French mathematician and physicist. She founded a summer school at Les Houches in the French Alps. For this and her publications, she was awarded the American Society of the French Legion of Honor 2007 Medal for Distinguished Achievement. Attendees at the summer school included over twenty students who would go on to be Nobel Prize winners, including Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, Georges Charpak, and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, who identify the school for assisting in their success.
Cécile Morette was born in 1922 and brought up in Normandy; she originally decided to become a surgeon. She moved to mathematics after taking a sample course to develop her education. She had to deal with a tragedy when her mother, her sister, and her grandmother were killed in the Allied bombing of Caen to support the D-Day landings. At the time Morette was studying in Paris. She completed her Ph.D. (Sur la production des mésons dans les chocs entre nucléons) in 1947.
In 1948 she was invited by Robert Oppenheimer to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Oppenheimer had just recently become director of the Institute. There she met her future husband, although she felt guilty that she was transferring her allegiance from France to America.
She rationalised this by deciding to start a school in France in 1951. The school started with a course in quantum mechanics and was intended to assist France following the Second World War. She founded the summer school at Les Houches in the French Alps. She tells stories of how she obtained the funding by tricking her way into a minister's office and then persuaded her male colleagues to support the idea by pretending that the idea was theirs. Morette was to lead this school for the next 22 years. The school was able to list twenty former students or lecturers at the school who went to become Nobel laureates. One winner of the Fields Medal credited the summer school as responsible for his career in mathematics. Nobel laureates Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, Georges Charpak, and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji identified the school as helping with their success. In 1958, NATO funded a series of advanced study centres that were based on Morette's summer school.
Morette found that she did suffer some discrimination in America. She married the American physicist Bryce DeWitt and they had four children. Morette had originally adopted her husband's name, but found that her work was attributed to him. Later they were both visiting Professors at a University that downgraded Morette, claiming that they did this under a clause to prevent two family members having power. This was despite the significant contribution by Morette.
In 1953 a trustee of the unusual Gravity Research Foundation, Agnew Bahnson, contacted Bryce DeWitt with a proposal to fund a gravity research institute. The proposed name was agreed as the "Institute for Field Physics" and it was established in 1956 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the direction of Bryce and Morette.
In 1958 Cécile DeWitt-Morette invited Léon Motchane to see the Institute of Advanced Study in USA which inspired Léon Motchane to establish an institute dedicated to fundamental research in three areas: mathematics, theoretical physics, and the methodology of human sciences upon which he later created the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques.
In 1972 Morette and her husband led an expedition to Mauritania to confirm that light was deflected in line with the theory of general relativity. These measurements were made during the solar eclipse there. Comparison of the pictures with those made six months later confirmed that, in line with theory, light was indeed bent when passing by massive objects. Morette and her husband joined the faculty of the University of Texas in 1972. She began to work increasingly in physics rather than in mathematics, and she became a Professor in 1985.
Bryce DeWitt died in 2004 from cancer. In 2007 Professor Cécile DeWitt-Morette was awarded the American Society of the French Legion of Honor 2007 Medal for Distinguished Achievement in New York. She was then the Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor Emerita of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin.
- L’Energie Atomique, de Gigord, Paris (1946)
- C. Morette and H.W. Peng, Nature 160 (1947) 59-60
- Particules Elémentaires, Hermann, Paris (1951)
- Black holes (Cécile DeWitt-Morette, Bryce Seligman DeWitt, 1973)
- (With Y. Choquet-Bruhat and M. Dillard-Bleick) Analysis, Manifolds and Physics, (1977)
- I.T. for Intelligent Grandmothers, (1987)
- (With Y. Choquet-Bruhat) Analysis, Manifolds, and Physics. Part II. (1989)
- Quantum field theory: perspective and prospective (Cécile DeWitt-Morette, Jean Bernard Zuber)
- (With P. Cartier) Functional Integration, Action and Symmetries (2006)
- Department of Physics News, University of Texas at Austin, accessed March 2010
- "The School High in the Alps". Europhysics News (Springer Berlin / Heidelberg) 30 (3): 68. July 1999. ISSN 1432-1092. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
- Cécile DeWitt-Morette, Emil Mitchell, Senior Women, accessed March 2010
- DeWitt, Bryce (1993). "Cécile Andrée Paule DeWitt-Morette". In Grinstein, Louise S.; Rose, Rose K.; Rafailovich, Miriam H. Women in Chemistry and Physics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook. Greenwood Press. pp. 150–161.
- List of publications, University of Texas, accessed March 2010
- Cécile DeWitt-Morette at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Rhodes, Richard (October 1977). "'I Am Become Death...': The Agony of J. Robert Oppenheimer". American Heritage. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
- "L'Ecole de Physique des Houches (English translation)" (in French). Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- CWP at physics.UCLA.edu // Cecile DeWitt-Morette at cwp.library.ucla.edu
- DeWitt-Morette, Cécile. "1948–1950: Snapshots". Institute of Advanced Study.
- Jackson, Allyn. "The IHÉS at Forty". American Mathematical Society. Retrieved March 1999.
- Archives of American Mathematics Spotlight: The Bryce S. DeWitt Papers, Kristy Sorensen, accessed March 2010
- Ørsted, Bent (1980). "Review: Analysis, manifolds and physics, by Yvonne Choquet-Bruhat, Cecile DeWitt-Morette, and Margaret Dillard-Bleick". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.) 3 (2): 878–885.
- IT for Intellegent Grandmothers