did he have a lot of charm and charisma when he expressed in the simplest terms what he had to say, he also liked to circulate in the ranks of the classes and listen very carefully to the questions and comments of the pupils. This attitude has to be promoted to open the Gate. We are not just there to open the “good book” of knowledge for others but to listen to what less scientifically educated individuals have to say.

An important social aspect he created in his laboratories was the team spirit he instilled. Rather than publishing with separate names, he would promote joint articles with no specific names to identify the authors: “Orsay group in superconductivity,” “Orsay group on liquid crystals,” etc. Such articles mixed contributions from experimentalists and theoreticians, young and senior members—even if their partial contributions were of different importance—with the largest part often coming from him. It was very stimulating and challenging for the younger members of the group, and I have also successfully tried to do it for my research groups.

I hope that these personal memories and reflections inspired by my friend Pierre-Gilles de Gennes will offer some keys to promoting science and leading to a better understanding among each other, with rigor as well as tolerance.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement