Astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Petit learned to fly at 12, was scuba diving in the waters off Marseille long before it became a tourist sport, and was invited to study for a year at Princeton -- where he managed to get sent back to France after his first day for spending his lunch hour exploring the restricted and top secret areas dedicated to secret US military research. Whether it was his breach of security or his declaration to the director that the project wouldn't work that got him thrown out is left to speculation.
His subsequent career in research in the French CNRS research centres was marked by the same independence of spirit. A short biography in English can be found here.
As well as being a scientist, Jean-Pierre is also an artist. He uses his drawing skills to bring scientific ideas to the public in a series of comic books that have been translated into over 20 languages. His project Savoir-sans-frontieres (Knowledge without borders) seeks to bring this work to a widening audience.
In his comic books, Jean-Pierre includes drawing that explain the workings of the top secret technology discussed in this podcast. You can download The Silence Barrier and have your own copy of drawings that have made the jaws drop of scientists working on these secret programs. Jean-Pierre tells the story in the podcast.
Top Secret Technology
Next week we look at the Ummo question and Jean-Pierre's work decoding Ummo science, a project he describes as part Speilberg, part Einstein, and part Marx Brothers.