I was born in 1938, I studied in Ecole Polytechnique (France) where I entered at the age of eighteen and, after two years of military service in the French Navy, at the University of Orsay where I received my PhD at the age of twenty-seven. The first six years of my scientific career, dedicated to nuclear physics, were shared between France (Saclay) and the United States (Berkeley) where I did my PhD work. I then turned to particle physics and settled at CERN (Geneva) where I spent most of my research life. I led there many experiments, some of which are recognized as important steps in the progress of particle physics during the last third of the past century. I was, in particular, spokesman of experiment UA2, one of the two experiments that simultaneously discovered weak bosons and gave evidence for the emission of quarks and gluons in the form of hadronic jets. For this success, I was awarded a “Grand Prix de l’Académie des Sciences” where I was elected at the age of forty-eight. During seven consecutive years, from 1987 to 1994, I accepted the function of Research Director at CERN. After having freed myself from this duty, I turned to solid state physics where I conducted research in the field of superconductivity of thin niobium films. For now seventeen years, I am resident in Ha Noi where I have been teaching quantum physics, particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology at the Institute of Physics, at the University of Education, at the Hanoi University of Sciences and at the University of Science and Technology of Ha Noi. In 2000, I have created in Ha Noi, in the premises of the Institute for Nuclear Research and Technology, an astrophysics laboratory working on cosmic rays (in collaboration with the Pierre Auger Observatory), thanks, in part, to scientific material that I had collected in Europe and in the United States. For now five years, the laboratory has switched its interest to millimetre/sub-millimetre radio astronomy and has become the department of astrophysics of the Vietnam National Satellite Centre in the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. The research team, now including five young postdocs and a PhD student, has reached international stature and has trained some fifteen undergraduates and ten masters over the years. I do my best to help with improving academic training and scientific research in Vietnam, in particular by contributing articles to the Tia Sang magazine and by giving scientific advice when asked, for example to the funding agency Nafosted.
My scientific work is recognised by the international scientific community who expressed their friendship to me in numerous occasions, asking me to give lecture series in prestigious places such as Harvard and Cambridge, inviting me in two occasions (Leipzig 1984 and Glasgow 1994) to give the summary talk at the most important conference in the discipline, that brings together the international community every second year, asking me to be a member of, and often to chair, many committees dealing with scientific policy, etc... I was awarded a honoris causa PhD degree from Pavia University, was nominated in 1997 to the grade of “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur” for my scientific work. I was awarded several prizes during my scientific career : Prix Joliot Curie in 1973, Prix du Commissariat à l'Energie atomique in 1987, Prix André Lagarrigue in 2008. I received medals from the Vietnamese Ministry of Sciences and Technology and from the Physical Society of Vietnam in recognition of my effort to help with the progress of Vietnamese science. I also received the Friendship Medal from the Vietnamese Prime Minister in 2014 and the Phan Chau Trinh Prize for education and culture in 2016. I am the author of articles dealing with the relation between science and philosophy, in particular of a book, Réflexions sur la Science contemporaine, published by EDP Sciences in 2007. I recently issued a bilingual collection of articles, Looking at science and education in my second homeland, published by The Gioi in 2016.
Pierre Darriulat, May 2016