About me, Grigore Horhoianu

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
…………………..you’ll be a Man,my soon! *

                              (from”IF” by R.Kipling)

I was born on 17th of February 1948 in Balanesti village from Gorj county of Romania. The Balanesti village is located on the banks of Amaradiei river, between two hills with trees and vineyards, it is a place of exceptional beauty and it is very picturesque.My father, Grigore Horhoianu, was born in Balanesti, in a family with seven children. My father’s parents were modest and hardworking people, who dealt with farming and animal breeding within the household. My mother, Lucretia Horhoianu was born in the neighboring village called Voitesti, in a family with eight children. My mother’s parents, Alexie Radulescu family, were among the wealthiest and hardworking people in the village.The house where I was born in and I grew in (see picture below) was later demolished by my cousin, Cristian Horhoianu. Then Cristian built a new house where he is living with his family at the moment. My sister Aurelia was born a year after me and became a physician, which made my father very happy. My father was a teacher in the village school. My mother took care of the household chores and field work. We, the children, namely me and my sister were raised by the paternal grandmother, Maria who lived with us. Later we moved in the neighboring village called Pistesti, in the new house my parents built on the land inherited by my mother from her parents. I spent my childhood with my sister and other children in the village. The earliest memories I have, are linked to the Cornea hill where we had a vineyard and a cellar and where I often went together with my sister and grandmother, to Budii Hill where we had an orchard of plum trees, to Bolborosu Valley where we had a vineyard and Hobaica Valley where my father went to mow the lucrene. I fondly remember my childhood friends: Chiriac Ion siChiriacAurel, Toropu Dan, Avram Liviusi,AvramViorel. I also keep a vivid memory of my colleagues from primary school: AndritoiuVasile, Guta Gheorghe, Salajan Ion, Tascau Ion, Negrescu Rodica, Ionici Valeria, Toropu Maria. Oh God! How we used to play on the village lanes!In the hot summer days we go toAmaradiabrook to bathe. In the winter we sleigh down the Magulice Hill and Broscanilor Coast. On the Christmas Eve, on Christmas Carol Day (when children go to carol their neighbors) we, all the children from the village hung our knapsacks and went on caroling- after” pitarai”- children who carol – from Broscanilor bridge to Inoasa brook.

I attended the primary school in my native village the “school with an Eagle” which has in its front garden a monument in honor of heroes fallen in war and on which a bronze eagle is mounted. I had a teacher Mr. Ion Draganescu in the first grade and Mrs.Elena Diaconescu in grades 2,3 and 4.At the same school my father was a teacher and my sister was one of his students. I remember that my father, sometimes, call me and my sister in the school breaks in the school yard and with a wooden knife and a brush would clean our poached shoes that got dirty from the road from home to school.At school, both I and my sister had good results and in the end of the year we both were rewarded with the first prize with a crown (this a Romanian tradition to give a crown made of flowers to the pupils rewarded with the first prize) to the joy to our parents

.I attended the elementary school, 5th to 7th grade at the school from Voitesti, which at first was inside a smaller public house and later a building was constructed and it functions even today as a school. Here, I had as the Romanian language teacher my uncle Mr. Anghel Horhoianu and the young Ionici Ion was my Math teacher, my History teacher was Lupulescu Ion and Mr. Flitan Constantin as the Geography teacher. Since that time I remember very well the school trip when we visited the Hunedoara steel plant and the Corvin Castle. In that trip my sister also came altogether with other colleagues and a few teachers including Professor Anghel Horhoianu, my uncle. I also keep a vivid memory of the hora dances which were held on Sunday in the village meadow, near the Amaradia brook, where the village fiddlers cheer us with their songs.

As I was a small child, I was interested in how things work and I used to disassemble my toys or other children’s toys.I started to like electronics and I was very glad when, still a pupil in the primary school, I managed to build alone a radio receiver from a phone headset, a galena detector and a reel on a hemlock pipe.In the village there was no electricity and no radios, so the crystal set built by me was a big surprise not only for my parents but also for our neighbors. Later I approached more complicated assemblies and I used to spend all the money I received from my parents, to buy the necessary parts

The childhood years have passed quickly, and here I am a student at the High School of Tg-Jiu. I keep a live remembrance of my colleagues and classmates as: Dan Golumbovici, Mihai Dragomir, Ceaureanu Ion, Stamatoiu Virgil, Aremia Sanda, Stefanescu Ana, Cocos Aurelia, and form senior years: Perescu Nistor, Padureanu Ion, Purcaru Ion, Dobre Ion.Among the teachers I fondly remember Raica Aristita my Math teacher, my French teacher of our class teacher Mrs. Golumbovici Filofteia, Romanian language teacher Mr. Bistreanu Constantin, Patroiescu Virgil the Physical science teacher, and Ion Pruteanu the History teacher. During high school I lived in a boarding house and I have countless memories from that times. In the last two years when I was supposed to prepare myself for university admission, my father found for me a host near the high school. I lived there together with Toropu Dan a friend from childhood. I remember that one of the biggest problem for my parents was to bring me firewood during the winter. Until they managed to buy the firewood I must stand the cold in my room. I also remember the math, physics and chemistry Olympiadsto which we, the students, were trying to get good results.
After the high school, came the student years within the Physics Faculty from University of Bucharest. I fondly remember my colleagues: Chirtoc Viorel, Simion Stefan, Gaiseanu Florin, Dafinei Andrian, Gatner Pavel, Nicolaescu Virgil, Munteanu Nicoleta, Popescu Maria, EnescuEcaterina, Dragulescu Emilian(Milica), StanescuPetre, Teodorescu Marin and from senior years: PopescuDumitru(Mitica), PopescuGheorge(Gigi), Pasareanu Nicolae(Nicu).Some of them have, later, worked in research field or in higher education. After graduation I wanted to work at the Institute of Nuclear Technologies Bucharest-Magurele, a new institute that was set up and whichhad as a primary objective the development of nuclear energy in Romania. Later, this institute was named the Institute of Nuclear Power Reactors and today it is named the Nuclear Research Institute. In 1977 the institute moved its headquarters in Pitesti, where it operates even today. In Magurele I benefited of a very experienced researcher, Professor Stelian Lungu, who awakened my interest in research on nuclear fuel. I find it odd that I remember those, not so distant, days from the past, when we used to perforate the software on cards with a special device for the computer at IFA Magurele. That computer occupied the entire room from the theoretical physical science department. I was looking forward, many hours sometimes even days to receiving the calculation results strung on multiple pages.Later in 1980 our institute purchased a huge computer and at that time it was a computer of the highest performance in the country. Now we develop the direct calculation on laptop and we have the results just in seconds. Back then we used a typewriter for the research results and we consulted a professional designer for graphics and figures on tracing paper.It was difficult to communicate with the physicists abroad becauseIcould only use letters and preprint requests. We now have some electronic archives and I can communicate quickly via the Internet with my specialist colleagues in Europe, America, Asia. In 1975 I received a scholarship offered by the International Atomic Energy Agency to carry out an internship at the Institute of Nuclear Research in Mol-Belgium where I prepared my PhD thesis.It was very hard to get a scholarship abroad, at that time, so I felt very fortunate to work in a leading lab of the Western Europe along with the high-level scientific specialists.Furthermore, in 1977 I conducted the first irradiation tests on nuclear fuel manufactured by us in Pitesti and tested in the BR2 reactor of Belgium Nuclear Research Center. The experimental results obtained then and published by me in the external report BLG-530 of the SCK/CEN, Mol, Belgium confirmed the first success in achieving nuclear fuel in Romania.

The generous aid awarded by the State, in those difficult years for the Insitute on the hill near Pitesti, made it possible for a young group of physicists to focus on solving issues, which were not so easy for the research department, in general and for the nuclear fuel manufacturing in Romania. It is here where I benefited of an excellent research base, the most modern one from the Eastern Europe (experimental nuclear reactor, radiation devices, hot cells, high performance computers, etc.). The happiest days of my life (apart from the family side) were those when, suddenly, after months of hard work, I got the first results with the computer model.These results were in full compliance with the results provided by the experiments we made in the research reactor. So we started, here in Romania to manufacture nuclear fuel for power reactors. By chance I was one of the pioneers within the development of this field in our country and which in my opinion was a great success. Currently Romania is the only country in Eastern Europe which produces nuclear fuel for nuclear power reactors. It is the only country within the Eastern Europe that has the possibility to test experimental nuclear fuel in reactor conditions and to evaluate its performance through structural analysis in hot cells.

The physicist researchers are also human, so we all suffer from the need to feel that what we do is important. From an older physicist, named Alexandru Cepa, who worked in the Electrotechnical Research Institute I have learned an essential lesson, namely that it is possible to make progress on problems that seem unsolvable if you ignore the skeptics and move on.Alexandru was born in a village from Gorj, he also attended the course of the theoretical high school in Tg-Jiu and then he studied at the Physics Faculty within the Bucharest University, but the similarities stop here. I have to notice, without exaggerating, that Alexandru, with whom I often met in the library in Magurele, was far ahead of his time, and he was courageous and able enough to approach unconceivable issues of those times, such as quantum gravity, and this, under harsh conditions generated against him by the management of the Institute he worked for. I have always admired the clearness and the complexity of the physical science problems tackled by Alexandru. As for me, in my entire professional activity I felt extremely fortunate to be part of the physical science community which is concerned with the nuclear fission and use of energy released by fission within powerful nuclear reactors.One of the most spectacular moments that I experienced in my scientific career was at the Nuclear Energy International Congress held in Niagara Falls, Canada, in 2010. Here I presented, right from the opening, hoisting the Romanian flag near me, the experimental and calculation results of the nuclear fuel performance under the cyclic variation of the reactor’s power. The work contained the results of calculations and of the special experiment conducted in the reactor from Nuclear Research Institute in Pitesti in collaboration with AECL. I feel honored that through my research activity and by the 222 scientific papers reached within the Institute I was able to bring my modest contribution to the development of nuclear fuel in Romania.

Since studying at the university I felt that I wanted to do research in physics, because I realized that physics is a straightforward science par excellence who offered me the key to understand what it is happening around me, where we came from and why we are here on this planet called Earth.The purpose of physics at its deepest is not only to describe the world in which we live in, but also to explain why this planet, this universe is as it is and if life is a random occurrence or the scope of a divine plan. And if one must invent a purpose for his own life, then I feel that mine is to continuously try to understand the universe and our world and definitely physical science helped me to do this.To a lesser extent, perhaps I succeeded to find answers to many problems that have troubled me, but there are still so many things I want to know. The great physicist Einstein has committed one of the greatest intellectual achievements of all time showing us that the space and the time are influenced by the state of motion of the observer and they may bend as a response to the presence of matter and energy.Just like the special relativity and the general relativity have enforced drastic changes in our conception of the world, quantum mechanics – the physics of our real world– requires us to give up the qualities of “common sense” in order to understand the chaotic frenzy of the microscopic universe. Currently the string theory shakes so strongly the foundations of modern physics that even the ordinary number of three spatial dimensions of the universe, something so elementary that I could consider beyond doubt, is dramatically and convincingly changed. Today the true mysteries of nature and the universe must be sought in astrophysics and elementary particle physics.

As for me, the joy of the work itself has always been a great motivation that I needed for my daily work. Working in a laboratory located in the middle of a beautiful forest on a hill in Mioveni, Arges, I always felt satisfied with the results. Operating with mathematical expressions and interpreting the results of the nuclear research reactor I had the satisfaction to see that experiments show that nature really behave as the theory.The scientific explanation is a source of pleasure, like love or art. The best way to understand the nature of scientific explanations is to live that thrill you feel when someone (preferably yourself) manage to explain one thing both by experiment and by calculation. When I taught physical science to students at the university I felt that my main task (and undoubtedly the most difficult) was to get them feel the strength that they get using their ability to calculate what happens to a physical system in different conditions and how useful it is to compare with the results of a well- thought experiment. In this way my students could feel on their own what the principles of physical science really mean

Certainly the principles of physical science represent a valuable component of our civilization on this planet. The most profound physical principles that we know are the rules of quantum mechanics that form the basis for everything we know about matter and its interactions. Perhaps in the near future the holographic principle of quantum gravity that physicists Leonard Susskind and Lee Smolin referred to in their work will be a tremendous idea that will strongly mark our civilization.As a professor of physical science I spent much time seeking to explain difficult things in elementary terms to my students. I tried to get them understand that elementary particles arise in theories of modern physics as small clusters of energy, impulse and electrical charge of some ends. In modern physics, fields must be seen not just as simple mathematical artificial inventions that helps us calculate the forces between particles, but as independent physical entities-residents of our universe that could actually be “more fundamental” than the particles themselves.

My wife is by profession, a physicist, and she worked with me at the Institute of Nuclear Research in Pitesti. We first lived in Bucharest and then in March 1977 we moved in Pitesti, where we received a home from the Institute. Our oldest son, Ionica, was born in Bucharest, our second son, Mihai, was born in Pitesti. Ionica attended the Faculty of Economics in Bucharest.Mihai attended the Faculty of Nuclear Power Plants in Bucharest. Ionica married Iuliana Nicoleta and they have a son named David-Andrei Horhoianu born on 23rdof September2003, a daughter named Maria Irene born on 29thof July 2007. For their great joy a third child, Ana Ines came into the world on 22ndof December 2010. Mihai married Adela Mihaela and they have a son named Alexander Horhoianu born on 8thof August 2004 and another son, Stefan Matei born on 17thof December 2007.

I spent my youth in Pitesti. I fondly remember my close friend from Pitesti as Costescu family, Perescu family, Bold family, our godsons Radusi Gabriela Moscalu, Dutu family, Voicu family, Riciu family, Mazilu family Turcu family and other young families that come to work as we did in Pitesti.

Although I have traveled the world presenting works related to my research activity, at various congresses in world, my house still remained on the bank of the Arges river in Pitesti. I have to warn the reader that I am a very optimistic person who believes strongly in the future of his country. I believe myself to be highly bound to the place where I was born to the songs, games and Romanian customs to the plains, to our rivers and mountains.I feel like I recharge my batteries when I return even briefly to Balanesti my native village, near the Amaradia brook and Cornea Hill. I feel compelled to light up a candle at the grave of my parents and grandparents, whenever I come back in the village I was born in. I do bear within my soul that I have biggest duty for my parents, not only for the gift of life they gave me, but also because they planted in me the desire to know more than we can learn in school, to try to see the world as it is in reality. I know my parents worked hard to keep us in school, me and my sister, but I am convinced that our successes in school and in life meant to them a great joy.If I were a real writer and I had talent in the art of shaping characters, I would have liked to describe them, particularly my parents and some of the people in my village as well as the teachers that I have had the good fortune to learn for. Given my limited talent, I just summarize simple stories.As related to our relationship as parents with children I have to admit that we are all independent individuals who run our own existence. I love them and I will always do. Before getting married and taking a job that would bring them an income, we tried to help them as much as we could. I feel entitled to mention that bothIonica and Mihai were lucky to afford a well-intentioned education both in high school and at the university and I did everything I could to offer them such education. But I gave this willingly, and without the thought that I would be rewarded somehow.Prior to marry and to have a job that would bring them an income we tried to help them as I could. I feel entitled to say that both Ionica and Mihai were lucky to have agreat education both in high school and at the universityand I did whatever I thought it would maintain this opportunity. I considered it is my duty as a parent to take care with priority for the health and education of my children. For what I did, they should not reward me by promising me that they would visit me on Sundays, alternatively for the rest of my life. Honestly I am still too busy to live my life than being constantly upset for the fact that my children do not spend enough time with me. As related to the inheritance in case I die, then I kindly ask my sons and especially my daughters-in-law to forgive me for I badly planned my savings.But I hope in my heart that my children and daughters-in-law understand that the greatest achievement of their lives would be the children and their health and education must be a priority. One child in a family is too little for them as parents and for the child whose sibling may be his/her soul’s companion in this life. I surely can add several arguments in support of this claim. Unfortunately, many young families understand this when it’s too late. Families must give birth to children when the parents are young and healthy. To my joy, and especially theirs, I see that my sons have understood this advice and now they have Irene Maria and Ana Ines the sisters of David Andrei and Stefan Matei the brother of Alexandru. I have five grandchildren earnest, smart and with excellent results at school!

Frankly our situation on this planet called Earth, seems odd. Each of us appears here involuntarily and uninvited for a short stay, without knowing why he comes and where he comes from. In our daily lives we feel only that the man exists here for the good of the others, for those we love and for many other beings whose fate is associated to ours.Personally I am delighted for what I have achieved in this lifetime on this planet called Earth. I have never sought-after wealth and luxury and even now I despise them. There are still many things that I would like to see accomplished before I leave this world. I am not referring to my personal life, but professionally for example, I would like to live to see the dream of physicists of clarifying the nature of dark matter and of dark energy which dominates the universe achieved and to develop a quantum theory of gravity that will have to finally explain why we live in a world that we can explore in different ways, theory that most certainly will give us new answers related to fundamental questions about space and time, where we come from and where we are going.

I end my story with these words of wisdom written by Hendrik Van Loon in his book History of Mankind: “The more I think of the problems of our lives, the more I am persuaded that we ought to choose Irony and Pity for our assessors and judges as the ancient Egyptians called upon the Goddess Isis and the Goddess Nephtys on behalf of their deads. Irony and Pity are both of good counsel; the first with her smiles makes life agreeable; the other sanctifies it with her tears. The Irony which I invoke is no cruel. She mocks neither love nor beauty. She is gentle and kindly disposed. Her mirth disarms and it is she who teaches us to laugh at rogues and fools, whom but for her we might be so weak as to despise and hate”.

Daca poti…