Marcel Vivargent

(Photo LAPP )
Marcel Vivargent died on 31 January of this year, aged 87.
After obtaining a science degree in 1949, he joined the CNRS in 1951, starting out in the laboratory of Frédéric Joliot Curie at the Collège de France, and obtaining his doctorate in 1958. He worked on the installation of the cyclotron at the Radium Institute in Orsay, where he conducted research until 1960. That year he went to CERN, joining a small group of physicists to work on hadron production and kaon physics at the PS.
Passionate about the future of the discipline in France, in the 1960s Marcel Vivargent worked together with Robert Lévy-Mandel and the physicists and engineers in Orsay and at Saclay on the design of a 45 GeV accelerator project, which never materialised.
In 1968 he was appointed director of the high-energy division of the CNRS, bringing together particle physicists from IPN in Orsay and from the University of Paris Jussieu. In parallel, he participated in the experimental collaboration between CERN, Hamburg, Orsay and Vienna on the ISR.
It was also at this time that, convinced of the need for French physicists to work more closely with CERN, he urged his IPN Orsay colleagues to create a laboratory in Annecy, and ultimately prevailed. With the support of his colleagues and the regional authorities, the Annecy laboratory LAPP was built and inaugurated in 1976. He served as director until 1982, while also participating in the European Muon Collaboration.
From 1978 to 1980 Vivargent chaired ECFA, which played a pivotal role in getting approval for the LEP collider in a 27-kilometre tunnel, used today by the LHC—another project whose plans benefited from his support.
From 1981 to 1991 he coordinated the work of the French teams at LAPP and at Lyon working on the L3 experiment led by Sam Ting. He was put in charge of the electromagnetic calorimeter using BGO crystals, and started to lead the international collaboration that would operate the detector until 2001.
In his final years before retirement he took part in the Crystal Clear collaboration, which opened the way for the choice by the LHC experiment CMS of lead tungstate crystals for its ECAL detector, a development he followed with interest.
In addition to his strengths as a physicist, team leader and constructor, Marcel Vivargent was a courageous man with a critical and yet open mind, always ready to help his countrymen or his colleagues. His natural sympathies lay with those who refuse to give up the struggle. Thus, he dropped out of his studies in 1944 to join the Résistance movement in the Aube region of France.
From 1966 to 1967 he served as President of the CERN Staff Association.
Upon retirement, he devoted his energies to solar energy projects such as CIFRES, the International Center for Study and Training in Solar Energy located in Dakar, Senegal. Based on his experience with LEP, he lent his support to the railway tunnel option for the future link between Lyon and Turin.
In March 2007 he took part in a meeting about the Résistance at Saint-Genis-Pouilly, joining two other former CERN colleagues: Herbert Herz, a member of the FTP-MOI underground, and Albert Girardet, a Buchenwald survivor.
Marcel Vivargent was a source of inspiration not only for the physicists who worked with him but also for young people who had the privilege of making his acquaintance.
In 2009 he was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur.
CERN has sent its condolences to his widow and to his daughter and her family.

His former colleagues and friends