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10/13/94

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Stanford physicist wins international Science for Art prize

STANFORD -- Physicist Steven Chu, the Theodore and Frances Geballe Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, has received one of the 1995 Science for Art Prizes awarded annually by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc.

The unusual award was established in 1987 to help bring together the professions of science, art and industry. It does so by inviting members from these communities to submit "propositions on a common theme, each using its own mode of expression." The 1995 theme was "Play of Light and Matter."

Prizes are awarded in two categories: science and art. The science prize, which Chu won, is presented for any area of scientific research that can be applied to artistic or aesthetic vocations, such as arts, crafts and industrial design.

Chu's submission was based on his research into the physical properties of individual polymer strands using optical tweezers, a laser- based technique that allows researchers to manipulate individual molecules. Included were pictures of individual strands of DNA relaxing back to their normal configuration after being stretched and released.

The prize comes with a lithograph commissioned for the occasion and 100,000 French francs. The main award ceremony took place last summer in Paris, but another is scheduled for Oct. 17 in New York. Previous winners of the science prize include Nobel laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes from the College de France and Benoit Mandelbrot of Yale University, the inventor of fractal graphics.

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