Five years ago disappeared a scientist of exception. Pragmatic, curious about everything, supporter of the concrete facing abstract speeches by some specialists, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes jumped from chemistry to physics and from physics to quantum mechanic with an equal happiness and adored transmitting to the young generations his liking of the experiment and the innovation. He worked like the ancients, filling with chalk immense black boards and refusing overhead projectors and transparencies prepared in advance. Destroyer of the unique thought, he did not hesitate to face the highest governmental authorities, particularly about the question of last generation of nuclear reactors ITER, of which he denounced the decision of construction while numerous unknowns remained about their functioning. Humanist, he was also committed beside the Committee of the children rights of the United Nations.
Fervent enthusiast about painting and history, his general knowledge was immense and nevertheless he was a man full of humility, modesty and humour, refusing the qualification of "Isaac Newton of our time" which had been given to him by the royal Academy of the Sciences of Sweden, by asserting that "Isaac Newton had a stature above that of the physicists of his time."
Personally, i am not ashamed to say that i cried the day of his death. So long, Monsieur le Professeur.
Pierre-Gilles de Gennes working at his office.
On the red sign : "Goodbye the theories, hello the action."