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Vietnamese American scoops up prestigious French writers prize

Update: June, 08/2012 - 09:37


Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan ( middle) at the Cino Del Duca Prize ceremony, Thuan is the first Vietnamese and the second Asian to receive the award. _ VNA/VNS Photo Le Ha-Trung Dung
HA NOI — Vietnamese American astrophysicist Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan received the Cino Del Duca Prize from the French Institute yesterday for his efforts to popularise science worldwide.

Awarded since 1967, it is given annually in honour of French or foreign authors whose work constitutes, in a scientific or literary form, a message of modern humanism.

Thuan, professor at the University of Virginia, USA, is the first Vietnamese, and the second Asian to obtain the award. He, the first recognised as both a scientist and writer, yesterday picked up his 300,000 euros (US$376,000) prize in Paris.


Thuan, born in Ha Noi in 1948, carries out most of his astrophysical research in the USA and has his popular science works published in French.

He obtained his Bachelor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1970.

After completing his doctoral thesis at Princeton, he began teaching at the University of Virginia in 1976, becoming a world-renowned expert on astronomy outside the Milky Way. He discovered the youngest galaxies in the universe, the I Zwicky 18, in 2004. — VNS

According to the French Institute, Thuan's work presented a complex and subtle view of the universe and human role in it. They appreciated his goal to help ordinary people understand the subliminal elements of the world around them through his reflection and philosophical theology.

To date, Thuan has launched a dozen works. His latest book "The Quantum and the Lotus," published in 2001, was awarded the 2012 Louis Pauwels prize.

For his tireless efforts, he received the Kalinga Prize from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2009 while his earlier work "The Infinite in the Palm: From Big Bang to Enlightenment" (2000) won the 2000 Asian Literary Association of Francophone writers award.

Since 1969, the Cino Del Duca Prize has been handed out to only one person annually, skipping a year in 2011. — VNS

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