1934 - 2004
On August the 9th, 2004, Guy Bizzo departed for infinite spaces, silently, discreet as he ever was. According to his will, his ashes will be dispatched in a sea sky.
It was on our way back from Houston, in the sky over the Atlantic Ocean, that we finally decided to work hand in hand. Kapteyn had just given up, and we had lost all hope that the international society for postural and gait research - such was its new name - would write the specifications of a normalised stabilometry platform. So, between two sips of whiskey, we promised each other to write it together. That is how he became the father of the normalised stabilometry platform of the Association Française de Posturologie .
On our leisure time between two debates on physics, mechanics, informatics or statistics, I came to learn a lot of details on his life.
The "Guerre des boutons" (a popular French film in which kids fight over a few buttons) was the background of his childhood in the village of Belvoir on the plateaus of the Doubs, precisely where that charming little war took place a few years earlier - and small Guy used to meet the youngest protagonist, who stilled lived, the one who couldn't get his tenses right ("Si j'aurais su, j'aurais pas venu" : "if I had known I hadn't come"). Guy was raised there by a nurse whom, fifty years later, he still evoked with emotion. His mother abandoned him at his birth, nevertheless giving him her maiden name, a sign of the ambiguity of their relationship that would persist throughout their lives. To be a single mother in 1934 was very hard to bear.
The schoolmaster of Belvoir, who witnessed the intelligence of the child, obtained him a scholarship so that he could pursue his studies first at the Lycée Victor Hugo, then at the Faculté de Sciences de l'Université de Besançon.
He never talked to me about the Algerian War during which he served for 26 months, his "time as a conscript".
In 1962, he began to work as a technician at the arms central laboratory in Arcueil (LCA). A few years later, Bagey would take him from there to a laboratory in the Sainte-Anne hospital in Paris, at a certain Docteur J-B Baron's, in order to practise some soldering on laboratory instruments. Bizzo discovered that marvelous stabilometric signal, full of mystery and wealth. At that time, the signal was being analyzed, Jacques Max was writing his book  - Bizzo's bedside book - that would later be translated in several languages and re-issued many times. Baron therefore easily convinced Bizzo to work with him on the analysis of the signal and consequently to attempt to define the transfering function of the postural control system. Bizzo chose to make his thesis on that issue  and presented it to Soulairac and Zamansky.
The army recognized his merits and appointed him arms engineer. Faithful to the law of silence imposed by the army, for years he did not tell me anything about his activities, yet in 1982 he could help smiling with certain satisfaction as he showed me the picture of the HMS Ardent sinking into the Falklands San Carlos bay. The Exocet ! He was the one who perfected it with his colleagues at Arcueil during several silent years. After such a destruction of the HMS Ardent, the conception of war ships definitely changed.
After that brilliant success, the LCA, for lack of credit (the date is 1982), rested on its laurels, and Bizzo had plenty of time to take care of the normalized platform, of the stabilometry norms, of the problems of sampling cadences, of metrology - all the more easily as he was delegated by the LCA to the Bureau National de Métrologie.
After just a few years of retirement, he showed the first signs of the disorder of Charcot that was to take him away, he fell in the street for no reason... The last times I saw him at the Hôpital Saint-Antoine, sat in his armchair like a broken puppet, silenced by his tracheotomy, but with bright eyes and a perfectly conscious mind, he made crosswords to kill time, which he found too slow, yet what serenity...
1 - Bizzo G., Guillet N., Gagey P.M. (1985) Specifications for building a vertical force platform designed for clinical stabilometry. Med. Biol. Eng. Comput., 23: 474-476.
2 - Max J. (1972) Méthodes et techniques de traitement du signal et applications aux mesures physiques. Masson, Paris.
3 - Bizzo G. (1974) Tentative de détermination de la fonction de transfert du système de régulation posturale chez l'homme en orthostatisme à la suite de stimulations électriques labyrinthiques. Thèse de sciences (Paris V), 235 pages.