Jean-Pierre Sauvage: “Scientists are less respected than before”

MAINTENANCE – In an autobiographical book, the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry defends the advances made possible by his discipline and castigates the progression of the “virus of irrationality”.

Emeritus professor at the University of Strasbourg and member of the Academy of Sciences, Jean-Pierre Sauvage was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016 for his work on molecular machines. In a recently published autobiography, The Elegance of Molecules (Éditions humenSciences), he talks about the origin of his wonder for chemistry, and for the poetry he finds in it. His entire career has been devoted to answering this fundamental question: “What makes certain molecular buildings alive? In short, what gives life to life?

LE FIGARO. – You won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of molecular machines. What is it exactly?

Jean-Pierre SAUVAGE. – I would first like to say that it is a collective discovery, made possible by the work of all the people who have passed through the laboratory that I directed. It was during work on photosynthesis in the mid-1980s that we accidentally discovered a type of molecule…

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