In the fifth century BC, Democrite had the intuition of the existence of a fundamental particle of matter by observing sand. He called it ‘atomos,’ literally « that which can not be cut ». His brilliant intuition was fabulously enhanced by the discoveries of the twentieth century thanks to the development of particle physics and high energies.
The nuclear and corpuscular physics department participates in the experimental aspect of scientific venture by taking advantage of the proximity of CERN, one of the largest worldwide centers, allowing one to test this disconcerting domain of physics of the infinitesimal.
With forces that rule between them and the space-time factor in which they evolve, this apparently exotic zoo of particles constitutes a coherent set, the standard model. It can explain numerous phenomena but the most important questions are still being asked: How do some particles get their mass? Where did the antimatter particles which used to fill the Universe go? Is there a ‘messenger particle’ of the gravitational force?
High energy physics has certainly not finished inducing Nobel Prizes.