1998 Prizes for Scientific and Technological Culture

The awards for scientific and technical culture were created in 1994 by the Ministry of Education, research and technology, to publicize actions aiming to popularize scientific and technical information. The 1998 awards were handed to the winners on February 17, 1999.

The prize is awarded to a laboratory belonging either to a university or any other public research organization, which has played a part in acquainting the public with the methods, results, and challenges of scientific research.


1st prize: 50,000 FF
Awarded to CEFREM (Training and Research Center on the Marine Environment) – University of Perpignan
52, av de Villeneuve – 66860 PERPIGNAN CEDEX
Tel: 33 4 68 66 20 88
Fax: 33 4 68 66 20 96


CEFREM coordinates the largest oceanographic program supported by the European commission. CEFREM specializes in sedimentology and geochemistry, but it has widened its fields of investigation by promoting a pluridisciplinary approach to environmental sciences. One of its aims is to publicize knowledge on the “integrated study of the entire Mediterranean region”, by emphasizing the vast cultural wealth of this area. In 1998, this action was conducted in the framework of the International Ocean Year.
CEFREM has made numerous efforts to bring to public attention the pressure exerted on this area’s natural environment by human activity. CEFREM has organized conferences, colloquia, published articles in specialized publications and in the press, and produced an educational TV series and a documentary film for the ARTE TV channel in the series “the Human Adventure”.

2nd prize: 25,000 FF
Awarded to the UTAH (Toulouse Archeology and History Research Unit)
Maison de la Recherche – 5, rue Antonio Machado – 31058 TOULOUSE CEDEX
Tel: 33 5 61 50 36 85
Fax: 33 5 61 50 49 59


An experimental excavation project was organized by the archeological team of the university of Toulouse II-Le Mirail/UMR CNRS 5608, together with the municipality and the elementary school of Saint-Betrand-de-Comminges. The aim of this experiment, which took place on a local excavation site, was to introduce children to archeological research – by teaching them how to situate objects in space and time and methodological principles – on a simulated site, imitating a real situation and created by the archeologists for the purpose.
This extremely original project required very few means. The specialized knowledge of the archeologists and the specific competence of the institutions came together for the benefit of two classes of third-grade schoolchildren. The latter showed great interest for this practical introduction to archeology. This experiment, both ambitious in spirit and modest in means, deserves our greatest admiration.

Authorship Prize

First prize: 20,000 FF
Jacques Briard
Laboratory of Anthropology – University of Rennes I
35040 RENNES Cedex


This prize rewards Jacques Briard for his work devoted to the publicizing of his life’s achievements as a researcher. He works at the anthropology laboratory of the University of Rennes 1/CNRS, specializing in recent prehistory and protohistory (Armorican and European megalithism, the Bronze Age); he has done much to provide a better understanding of the megalithic civilization, still poorly known by the public.
While conducting specialized research, he has published many books and articles, spoken at conferences, participated in exhibitions, films and videos, in the aim of providing students and teachers with usable and updated documents. Some of his works have been translated into English, German, Italian, and Spanish. Increased public awareness of the importance of archeological vestiges has played a role in ensuring the safeguard of the megalithic heritage.


Second prize: 15,000 FF
Bernard Sapoval
Laboratory of physics of condensed matter
Ecole polytechnique – 91128 PALAISEAU
Tel: 33 1 69 33 41 72


Bernard Sapoval is rewarded for his work “Universalités et fractales, jeux d’enfants ou délits d'initiés”. He is a specialist in solid state physics, CNRS research director, and works at the Laboratory of condensed matter physics of the Ecole Polytechnique. He was director of this laboratory from 1976 to 1993.
His book is based on more than ten years of experimental research. It is very different from other works devoted to this theme, which has become very popular. The author expresses complex ideas clearly and simply, with scrupulous respect for both the information provided and for the reader’s intelligence. Each theme is carefully introduced: thus, one of his chapters is significantly entitled: “one can live without logarithms, but not that well”. His approach is innovative, often surprising. This book cannot fail to interest all readers, regardless of their background or knowledge of the field.

Authorship prize


Special jury award
Audouin Dollfus

Honorary Astronomer of the Paris Observatory in Meudon
Tel: 33 1 47 50 97 43
Fax: 33 1 45 07 79 59


The jury wished to honor Audouin Dollfus, an internationally renowned astronomer and explorer of the solar system. A student of Bernard Lyot, he now works at the Paris Observatory. Dollfus continued Lyot’s work in many areas, and in particular, he developed several technical innovations which led to new observations; thus, polarimetric techniques have made it possible to better monitor the sun’s active properties, study the state of the rocks on stars which do not have an atmosphere, visualize Jupiter’s clouds and monitor the seasonal variations of water steam on Mars.
Audouin Dollfus has also won several world records (flight duration, distance, altitude, in 1953 and 1955) and brought back remarkable scientific findings from his trips.
Audouin Dollfus has received numerous distinctions, among which the Janssen prize, the highest distinction for astronomy in France.

Creation prize

Best exhibition prize: 20,000 FF
“Physics in the classroom: the instruments of physical experimentation in 19th century secondary schools”
presented by Francis Gires (Tel/fax: 33 5 53 08 41 61) with the Musée du Périgord


Francis Gires teaches physical science and collects instruments used for teaching physics in schools. He organized this exhibition in 1997 in collaboration with the Musée du Périgord, in the city of Périgueux. Since then, it has been shown in many other cities.
The exhibition is of great aesthetic and pedagogical value: the instruments are well presented, young people are able to perform experiments, and the general public can learn a great deal about this experimental science. The documents and activities — catalogue, posters, and an experiment hall — are of high quality.


Creation prize: 20,000 FF
Best creation: “Bioviva, a useful and entertaining game on the environment”
Produced by the Société Bioviva – 21, rue du Ruisseau – 57550 HARGARTEN-AUX-MINES
Tel: 33 3 87 82 69 02
Fax: 33 3 87 82 69 03


The game was designed by Jean-Thierry Winstel, agronomist at the Ministry of Cooperation. It is based on scientific data and its aim is to foster environmental awareness.
BIOVIVA is the first game on the environment ever made. It is an entertaining and original way of conveying crucial scientific information to a very wide public (9 years and up).

Scientific and technical information prize (20,000 FF)
The review “Ciel et Espace” (Sky and Space), published by the Association Française d’Astronomie.
17 rue Emile Deutsch de la Meurthe – 75014 PARIS
Tel: 33 1 45 89 81 44
Fax: 33 1 45 65 08 95


The monthly review “Ciel et Espace” informs the general public about the discoveries made by astronomers, planetologists and astrophysicists, about spatial activities, and gives advice to amateur astronomers. This review is read by readers of all ages and backgrounds. Its circulation is of 50,000 and the information quoted is used as reference. The layout is pleasant and some of the best scientists have contributed articles.

Contact : Ministère de l'Education nationale, de la recherche et de la technologie
Direction de la recherche, sous-direction des musées et de la culture scientifique et technique
Mireille Gery
Tel: +33 1 46 34 36 21

The CNRS on line - CNRS Contact : webcnrs@cnrs-dir.fr URL in France : http://www.cnrs.fr URL in the USA : http://www.cnrs.org