UVa Astronomy Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan has been awarded the Cino Del Duca World Prize for 2012 from the Simone and Cino Del Duca Foundation.
This prize recognizes authors whose work, literary or scientific, constitutes a message of modern humanism. The prize goes with Eur300,000 of bonus.
Prof. Thuan is a well-known author of popular science and astronomy in France. Thuan’s work is being recognized for its success in communicating to the public the beauty and harmony of the Universe.
Thuan will receive the prize in Paris on June 6, under the Coupole of the Institut de France.
This prize adds to Thuan’s growing list of awards for his writing, the most recent being the UNESCO Kalinga Prize in 2009.
The Cino del Duca award was established in 1969 in France by Simone Del Duca (1912–2004) to continue the work of her husband, publishing magnate Cino Del Duca (1899–1967).
Designed to recognize and reward an author whose work constitutes, in a scientific or literary form, a message of modern humanism, the award currently carries Eur 300,000 prize.
In 1975, Madame Del Luca established the Simone and Cino Del Duca Foundation for a variety of philanthropic purposes and it assumed responsibility for the award. Following her death in 2004, the foundation was placed under the auspices of the Institut de France.
Trinh Xuan Thuan was born on 20th of August, 1948 in Hanoi. He left Hanoi at the age of 6. His family then moved to Saigon, where he pursued his studies at the French high-school Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It is during that period that he acquired the French style that allowed him to write in French such popular books on astrophysics and cosmology, that are famous not only for their scientific accuracy, but also for their poetic language. He passed with high honors the baccalaureate degree in 1966.
He then went abroad for his higher education. After one year in Switzerland (1966-1967), at the Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne, he continued his studies in well-known American universities. He obtained his Bachelor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1970, then his PhD in Astrophysics at Princeton University in 1974, under the guidance of the eminent astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer, father of the Hubble space Telescope and one of the pioneers of the physics of the interstellar medium and of plasmas.
Since 1976, he has been a professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and divides his time between the United States and France. As an invited professor at the University of Paris 7, at the observatory of Paris-Meudon, at the department of astrophysics of Saclay and at the IAP (Institute of astrophysics of Paris) of the CNRS, he collaborates regularly with French scientists.
An astrophysicist internationally recognized for his research in extragalactic astronomy, he is the author of more than 230 articles on the formation and evolution of galaxies, in particular of dwarf galaxies, and on the synthesis of light elements in the Big-bang. His articles are widely referred to in the world.
For his astronomical research, he makes use of the largest telescopes on the ground (Kitt Peak, Hawaii, Chile...) and in space (Hubble, Spitzer...). At the end of 2004, thanks to observations made with Hubble, he discovered the youngest known galaxy in the universe (I Zwicky 18) – a discovery that was amply discussed in the international press.
In addition to his research, he teaches a course at the University of Virginia which is called "Astronomy for Poets". In this course, students with a non-scientific background have the pleasure of discovering the wonders of the Universe in a non-technical language.
His books include "Dictionary of the Lover of the Sky and the Stars" (2009); "The Ways of Light" (2007); "Origins" (2003); "The Quantum and the Lotus" (2001); "Chaos and Harmony" (2001); "Birth of the Universe" (1993); "An Astrophysicist" (1992), and "The Secret Melody" (1995).
In 2007, the French Academy awarded its prestigious Grand Prix Moron to Thuan for "The Ways of Light." That award is roughly equivalent to the American Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award.
All his books have originally been written in French. They have all met the favor of a large audience and have been translated in some 20 languages, including English.
Trinh Xuan Thuan is regularly invited on television and radio emissions in the US, France and other countries.
He is also a frequent guest lecturer in many countries over the world.
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