Vietnam’s outstanding physicists

Posted at: TUEsday - 03/03/2015 14:01 - post name: Cộng tác viên

Vietnam’s outstanding physicists

Dam Thanh Son, Nguyen Trong Hien, and Luu Le Hang are three outstanding physicists who have made great contributions to the world’s science and civilization.

Early days…

I am proud that I have attended all of the ten “Meeting Vietnam” events, which have been organised during the past two decades.

The first “Meeting Vietnam” event was organised at the Guest House of the Ministry of Defence in Pham Ngu Lao street in the winter of 1993 when the weather was quite cold with strong Northeastern wind.

At that time, Vietnam has yet to escape from poverty caused by the subsidy period and US embargo. Hanoi had no luxurious five-star hotels. Hotels of the subsidy period were usually visited by cockroaches, mosquitos and mice.   

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The Ministry of Defence’s Guest house was the most luxurious place for receiving international guests, including Nobel prize winner Jack Steinberger, who then proposed US President Bill Clinton remove embargo against Vietnam as the country had launched its Renewal Process and become willing to become friends of the US.

In 1993, Vietnam and the US had not established a diplomatic relations. Therefore, Jack Steinberger and other Western physicists had to travel to Paris or Bangkok to apply for a Vietnam visa at the Vietnamese embassy there.

Despite such complicated procedure, hundreds of US and Western Physicists went to Hanoi at the invitation of Prof. Tran Thanh Van, who initiated the “Meeting Vietnam” symposium.

Dr. Dam Thanh Son and Dr. Nguyen Trong Hien both attended the first meeting in 1993. The 24-year-old Dam Thanh Son came back to Vietnam from the Institute for Nuclear Research in Moscow while Dr. Nguyen Trong Hien, 30, came back from Princeton University.

The second meeting was organised at the Thong Nhat Conference Hall in October, 1995 with an increasing number of participants (more than 220 physicists from 40 countries) as they could observe the total eclipse of the sun in Binh Thuan province.

Dr. Son and Dr. Hien, of course, did not want to miss that opportunity. Another physicist. from Harvard University, Dr.  Luu Le Hang (or Jane Luu) also attended the symposium. Born in Sai Gon in 1963, she completed her doctoral thesis at the age of 26 and became a professor of the Harvard University at 30.

According to Jane Luu’s report, she and her partner David Jewitt had discovered dozens of asteroid at the Kuiper Belt and one of them were named after her, 5430 Luu.

Two decades later...

Since then, Dr. Son and Dr. Hien have always attended the symposium. Dr. Hien also accepted to become a visiting lecturer of the Hue University.

In August, 2013, Ms. Hang accepted Prof. Tran Thanh Van’s invitation to Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh to attend the opening ceremony of the International Centre for Science and Education. But her personal affairs at the last minute prevented her from attending the event.

I have been following all their successes over the past two decades.

In April 2014, Dr. Dam Thanh Son was elected as an Academician by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). NAS was established in 1863 and now has 2,200 academicians. In the Academy’s history, 200 NAS academicians have won the Nobel prizes.

In 2005, Dr. Dam Thanh Son and his partners, P. K. Kovtun and A. O. Starinets, announced their research project on a model of “black hole in space” on the “Physical Review” Magazine. Their project was checked and recognised by major US experiment centres such as RHIC and Duke and appreciated by the “Physics Today” Magazine of the US Physics Association.

In 2014, Dr. Hien also achieved great success. According to an unbelievable theory, the Universe is 13,798 billion years old. Another theory said the early Universe expanded exponentially fast for a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. In the meantime, the Inflation Theory, the Universe expanded from nothing or a singularity, which is smaller than a nuclei exploded faster than light.

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Dr. Hien’s group BICEP2 under the Harvard Observatory Centre, in an effort to find the evidence for the Inflation Theory, had travelled to at the Antarctica many times.

In the meantime, in 2012, Jane Luu, David Jewitt, and Michael Brown were granted Kavli prize by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, which is considered a “Nobel prize for Astrology” and the Shaw prize, or an “Orient Nobel prize” for discovering the Kuiper Belt.

The three physicists have been doing their best to bring fame to the country and contribute to the development of physics.

Source: Người Lao động

Translated by Dic

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