Who am I?

I was born in the South of France, where I spent a contemplative childhood, practicing music, fine arts and writing. As I was also keen on mathematics I followed scientific studies, while continuing in parallel artistic activities. I got my degrees in mathematics and astronomy in Marseille and Montpellier, then my PhD in theoretical astrophysics at Paris University in 1977, and my Doctorat d’Etat (professorship equivalence) in 1985. In 1979 I got a permanent position at the French C.N.R.S. (National Center for Scientific Research), working at Paris-Meudon Observatory until 2014. I moved recently to the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, being also affiliated at the Centre de Physique Théorique (CPT) of Marseille-Luminy.

I am generally considered as a leading expert on black holes, cosmology, and the field of cosmic topology – the study of the overall shape of the universe. I have published dozens of articles in referee’s journals such as Nature, Astrophysical Journal, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Classical and Quantum Gravity, General Relativity and Gravitation and many others.

In 1979 I was the first to produce a computer-generated picture of the appearance of a black hole accretion disk. In the period 1980-1985 I worked on the process of tidal disruption of stars by giant black holes and discovered the process of «tidal squeezing» of stars, now investigated by several groups in the world.

NatureCoverNext I worked in the field of cosmology, promoting what I called « cosmic topology », the study of the global shape of the Universe. I suggested the idea of a « wraparound Universe » small enough for us to see several times « around » it; therefore it would be possible to point a telescope in several different directions and see the same luminous source in several copies, a bit like looking in mirrors. With collaborators such as Jeff Weeks, our proposal of a « dodecahedral finite universe » made the Nature cover of the 9 october 2003 issue and generated press releases all around the world.

I have been awarded numerous distinctions for my work, such as the European Prize 2007 for Science Communication, the Georges Lemaître Prize 1999 for my original contributions to cosmology and astrophysics (previous laureate : Prof. J. Peebles), and the International Astronomical Union has given the name Luminet to asteroid n° 5523 (= 1991 PH8), discovered in 1991 at Mt Palomar .

1999-PrixLemaitre-1Indeed one of my greatest efforts has been to make my research work understandable to the non-scientific community.

I am also deeply involved in art and literature. I have produced a dozen of popular science books (including Black Holes, Cambridge University Press, 1992, and The Wraparound Universe, AK Peters 2008), six historical novels, TV documentaries, multimedia productions, and seven collections of poetry. I am also an engraver and a sculptor, and I have collaborated with celebrated musicians such as Gerard Grisey. My literary work has been translated into a dozen of languages.

black-holes Wraparound


More information on : http://luth.obspm.fr/~luminet/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Pierre_Luminet

4 thoughts on “Who am I?”

  1. Hi Jean-Pierre
    You were once kind enough to respond to some of my queries (years ago) when you could not sleep! I am still doing a little high school teaching and have a different take on the questions you ponder (see my Geometry in Nature). But was glad nevertheless to see your anglicised blog and the work you have been doing. Thank you for this.
    John Blackwood (nearly retired high school teacher from Australia)

  2. Bonjour Jean-Pierre,

    Je suis très heureuse de commencer l’année en votre compagnie via You Tube et tous mes meilleurs voeux pour 2019. Originaire du Sud de la France comme vous, j’ai eu la chance, enfant, d’aller souvent faire des promenades avec mon père pour observer les étoiles et la voie lactée. Ce qui m’a vite conduite à lui poser des questions sur l’univers. Quoique super intelligent il n’a pas pu me répondre. Alors je continue à trouver cela passionnant et je cherche encore. Je vous remercie des pistes que j’ai découvertes grâce à vous. J’adore la géométrie sacrée, la physique ( que je n’ai pas pu étudier suffisament au Lycée parce que je “faisais” Latin-Grec ) les arts.
    En résumé je partage un grand nombre de vos intérêts….
    It all fits, je me dis souvent en Anglais car j’habite en ce moment à Chicago. Univers conscient et pensant ? L’être humain. hologramme
    de l’univers ( You Tube : 16 mn ) J’aurais aimé en savoir plus mais je n’ai pas pu saisir le nom de l’auteur. Vous le connaissez sans doute. J’aime aussi des thèmes comme Science et religion. ” Dieu = mathématicien ? ”
    A tout hasard je vous donne mon adresse e-mail:
    Même si vous n’avez pas le temps de m’envoyer un message, je ne regrette pas de vous avoir adressé le mien car j’ai eu en l’écrivant, l’impression de bavarder avec un ami du pays. Merci encore.
    J’ai hâte d’en savoir plus sur le dodecahedron & space. Les rapports avec le nombre d’or ….
    Il est temps de mettre fin à mon petit monologue aui commence à devenir grand!
    A bientôt peut-être.

  3. JPL,
    I’m curious how your model explain the extremely fine values of some constants and values, like the cosmological contant and the Higg’s boson value…
    If you’ve done it already, would be great to be directed to the article, links etc
    Many thanks , Leo

  4. Dear Jean-Pierre, I just finished your book “Chroniques de l’espace”. Thank you, it was written in such an easy language that even I, with my poor French, was able to understand it. By the way, you should open a Twitter account 🙂 Cheers!

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I felt dizzy and wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon — the unimaginable universe. Jorge luis Borges, The Aleph (1949)