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The Computing for Science (CS) group supports ILL scientists, students and visitors in a number of activities including data analysis, instrument simulation and sample simulation.

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Alain Filhol

School reminiscence

My first tape-recorder

First experiments

Neutron diffracto. D8

My son Fabien

D15 helium cryostat

Science festival in Grenoble

Me as seen by my son

Me at Apple Expo 98

My son "Fab-the-genius"

Jacques and Nénesse


With my son

Tartaras school

Computing for Science

My smiling wife

Nanopolis web site

My very first flight!

My new MacBook pro


ILL scale model

Object panorama shooting

Shooting movies

My first smarphone/tablet application

My Photo gallery

Some of the images were rescued from old floppies, CD-ROMs, Syquest, Zips and magneto optical disks.

Fortunately enough I kept some old Macs and drives which are still alive and well.



1955-60: School and High school reminiscence

A lot of fun with home made soapbox cars (after school) and funny drawings (during school).

Membership card of my soap box club
My fun book

1959: My portable... hu!... transportable tape recorder

Magnetic tape recorder, Fidélité 58 - Magnétic France
Photo from

I was 15 when I bought an almost professional magnetic tape-recorder. This was an affordable Fidélité 58 by Magnétic-France (Radiobois, 175 rue du temple, Paris 3e) with a lamp electronic (no transitors yet) but offering a pretty good sound quality.
I connected it to the radio set and, every morning before school, I used to switched it on to record the famous and very funny radio soap opera "Signé Furax". There was no programmable switch at that time and thus I recorded several hours of junk each day to get my 10' of fun.
With a weight of only (!!!) 25 kg it was considered as transportable and I did traveled a lot with it.

1969: My first research project

Hexogen single crystals

Crystallography lab of Prof. Gay, University of Bordeaux I

I got a CEA grant for the determination of crystal structure of the secondary explosive Hexogen (C3H6N6O6, also known as RDX, Cyclonite or Esogeno). Unfortunately enough it was soon found that the structure was already published in an unclassified report of the Naval Research Laboratory.

I was then asked to study the response of the material to irradiation. As a total newbie I built a very simple experiment, a metal can containing a single crystal, an ultra-violet lamp or an X-ray tube on one side, a 16mm B&W camera on the other. I got strange results that were never published. See the movie "Hexogen, a boiling crystal"

1972: First experiments at the ILL

No neutron diffractometer already commissioned at that time at the ILL, the only available instrument was LI5, a four-circle X-ray diffractometer Siemens AED.
It was driven by a DEC PDP8 computer and the data input was through punched tapes on a Teletype terminal. Since the core memory was only 4k of 12bit words, our colleague, Alain Barthélemy, had hard days tracking any empty word to implement extra assembly language instructions in this very tight space.
Together with Michel Thomas, we trained ourselves to new diffraction techniques that, later on, we introduced on single-crystal neutron-diffractometers such as D8, D9, D10, D15. We also fought a lot with a gas flow cryostat and concluded that we had to develop more reliable techniques for ILL diffractometers.

Photo of a Siemens AED diffractometer (from Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche)
LI5 equipped with a nitrogen gas flow cryostat.

1973: Building the neutron diffractometer D8 at the ILL

Data input and programming through an ASR 33 Teletype terminal.
Driving the instrument through the many buttons of a CAMAC electronics.
The proud team of the neutron diffractometer D8 at the ILL.
(Left: Michel Thomas, right: Alain Filhol)

D8 was a very high flux neutron 4-circle diffractometer now replaced by D19. It had a stout eulerian cradle and this made it possible no compromise low temperature experiments down to 10 K (double stage Displex cryocooler) and high pressure experiments (gas pressure cell up to 0.5 Gpa).

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1980: My son Fabien

Only good memories! I really liked playing with him.

1984: Refilling the helium cryostat of D15

I am preparing the liquid helium transfer line.

D15 was a neutron diffractometer build by Michel Thomas and now decommissioned.
It had a normal-beam option very convenient for low temperature and/or high pressure experiments. This allowed me to measure the structure of the superconducting phase of the 1D organic conductor beta*-(BEDT-TTF)2I3 at 4.5 K and 1.5 Kbar.
It had also a 4-circle option with a stout eulerian cradle with offset phi circle. Michel and I, we solved the blind region problem through an automated use of Renninger rotations.

1992: Science festival in Grenoble

Students agglutinated around a Macintosh, a big success indeed! They are discovering "Video_ILL_interactive" an early multimedia presentation of the ILL. An Hypercard™ engine was used to drive a set of Magic™ animations and several C and Pascal interactive simulations of neutron experiments (A.Filhol, Jean de Combret, Yves Baulac, Albert Wright).

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1992-94: Caricatures

My son Fabien (1992)
Me as seen by my son (1994)

(1992) My son Fabien

Street art in St Jean-de-Monts (Vendée, France). All our relatives agree that the caricature is excellent.

(1994) Myself

Yes it is just how I look 'for real'! My son had a lot of fun with Photoshop.

1998: Me at Apple Expo 98 in Paris

Quicktime VR was a brand new technology by Apple at that time and Briq demonstrated it at the Apple Expo (Paris) by shooting some of the visitors.
If stitching photos together to produce panoramas, either cylindrical or spherical, was totally new at that time, it is now very popular and available even on smartphones. The the ILL virtual tour is based on a series of such spherical panoramas.
The original file by Briq:

1999: My son "Fab-the-genius" is growing

Nothing but good! No need to detail.

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1999: My friends Jacques and Nénesse in my office

Prof. Jacques Berruyer (Univ. St Etienne, France)
Prof. Anestis Antoniadis (Univ. Grenoble, France)

Together we developped ABFfit (neutron powder diffraction data analysis), MacSurvival (survival analysis for physicians), ABCstat (statistical analysis), three programs for Mac OS classical with advanced statistical algorithms.

2000: JDN9 at Colleville-sur-mer

JDN9 (Journée de la Diffusion Neutronique, SFN)
This is my first experience with sand yachting. A lot of fun but at the expense of the skin of my hands!

2001: With my son

2000- First test of a WACOM pen tablet.

2001- My son and I we are testing a new digital camera, a Sony Cybershot DSC-F505.

2002: Tartaras school equiped with Macs from the ILL

I equiped the school of the village of Tartaras (Loire, France) with written-off Macintoshes from the ILL. Those were perfect for teaching the basis of word processing and drawing, as well as networking.

2003: The Computing for Science group and friends

A pot to celebrate something important or, may be, just for the pleasure.

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2004: My smiling wife happy to retire

We first met at the ILL. She impressed me very much by the way she handled my request for technical information. She never felt to impress me.

2004: Nanopolis

Nanopolis, the editor of my neutron encyclopedia "Exploring matter with neutrons", asked me for a photo.

The project lasted from 1999 to 2005 and I traveled twice to Bucharest to work with Dan Bog's team at iMediaSoft.

2005: Hang gliding at St Hilaire du Touvet

My very first flight! Bogdan Burdalescu (iMediasoft) also had his very first flight. This was his first travel outside Roumania and, after working hard at the Mac OS version of the CD "Exploring matter with neutrons, we had to celebrate with something huge.
Here the flight school advertising: Learning to fly?

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Download Video : WebMMP4

2007: My wife and I discovering Photo Booth on my new MacBook pro

A good way to convince her that she needs a modern Macintosh with a built in camera.

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30 Sept 2009: Retirement party

A photo of the celebration.

From left to right: Alain Filhol, Michel Thomas, Garry McIntyre, Ken Andersen

2010: ILL scale model

Brieuc Segalen (left), Alain Filhol (right)
Yes SPIP can drive the test electronics!

Modernization of the ILL scale model. Brieuc Segalen ( shows an early version of the new interface developed together with Olivier Vinot and Francis Gorgé. Yannick Raoul also helped for tests and the auto-restart procedure.

The scale model software was designed with a mixture of SPIP (CMS), javacript, PHP, Flash, AppleScript, MAMP, Safari, Shaft (kiosk mode), etc. The data base contained 500 web pages with 900 images, about 100 animations and some videos.

In 2012 the content of the scale model data base was ported to Typo3 (CMS) and is now part of the ILL's web site.

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2010: Object panorama shooting

A high pressure cell is placed on a cradle and manually rotated step by step. Laurent Thion (Ecliptique) records photos at various elevation angles.

An ugly tinkered setup indeed but we could not anticipate the working constraints.

The 1st photo can be seen at page 207 of the book "Photographier en toute stabilité" (i.e. Photograph in total stability) by Laurent Thion, 2010, Dunod.

2011: Making movies

Here at work at the level D of the ILL reactor.

The camera is a SONY HDR-HC7, an excellent choice for a novice cameraman!

The stand is a Manfrotto Kit 501HDV,755CX3K.

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2012: My first smartphone/tablet application

Neutrons4Science (for the web, iOS or Android) is an application developed in collaboration with Ipter. It offers a set a scientific animations demonstrating some aspects of neutron science and techniques. The animations are both 3D and interactive and one of them is in the form of a serious game.



Updates: 9 March 2012, 10 Nov. 2012.