Prof. Thierry Giamarchi, University of Geneva has been nominated as an American Physical Society Fellow (fellowship was given during the 2014 March meeting), for elucidating the role of interactions and disorder in low dimensional classical and quantum systems. Recently, he has also been elected as a new member of the French Academy of Sciences, effective June 2014.
You have been elected as a new member of the French Academy of Sciences. What does this represent to you?
T.G.: This is obviously a scientific recognition that means a lot to me and moves me greatly. I have a deep respect for the members of the French Academy of sciences. Especially in the physics section, there are people who have had a huge influence on physics and even on my way of conducting research. The fact that these people consider me worthy to be part of the Academy is a very great honor. Of course this is a very strong incentive to excel more and more.
Your life, or rather your research is closely linked to disorder. Could you explain how ?
T.G.: First, I am a very disordered person!
More seriously, disorder has always fascinated me. During courses, matter is often described as perfect, while in reality we know that some disorder is always present. We often try to get rid of it (or take it as an excuse when the experiments do not fit with the theory). It is then interesting to take the problem from the opposite perspective and see that disorder leads to radically new physics, both in classical and quantum systems.
To describe this physics we need new tools, turning this topic into a fascinating field of study for a theorist. With some collaborators, I had the opportunity to identify two phases of disordered matter that were not previously known (even some we thought could not exist). In these cases we feel as an explorer discovering an unknown continent.
What will be your challenges as a new academician?
T.G.: My challenges will be first to do still better in research, and especially to take the opportunity offered by the Academy to meet people at the highest level in all fields. Then, by using “the quality label” of this nomination I will try to defend the place of physicists and researcher in society, and help as much as I can in the promotion of science to the general public and future young researchers. Finally, as a man of disorder I will try to help our institutions to progress (the Academy as well as the University of Geneva), which sometimes need a dust removal.
(photos credits B. Eymann and A.Lopes – Académie des sciences)
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