French Nobel laureate and resistance fighter Charpak dies

30th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Nobel Physics laureate, former World War II resistance fighter and ardent advocate of nuclear disarmament Georges Charpak has died aged 86, France's research ministry said on Thursday.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's office issued a statement hailing "this great humanist whose life and commitment are an example for the nation and for young people" following the announcement of his death Wednesday.

Born in a Jewish ghetto in eastern Poland on March 8, 1924, Charpak came to France aged seven. An anti-fascist militant at age 15, he and his family refused to wear the yellow star imposed by the Nazis occupying France in 1941.

They obtained false identity papers in the name of Charpentier, and the young Charpak joined the resistance, only to be arrested and sent to Dachau concentration camp in Germany in 1944.

Having survived the camp, Charpak trained as an engineer, before becoming a researcher at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva in 1959, where he became increasingly involved in theoretical physics.

In 1992, he was awarded the Nobel Physics Prize "for his invention and development of particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber" in 1968 at CERN, which would become the world's largest atom smasher.

© 2010 AFP

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