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La vita sociale dei quark

La collaborazione LHCb nel 2008. Credit: collaborazione LHCb.

Proprio mentre si festeggiavano i cinque anni dalla scoperta del bosone di Higgs, dal Large Hadron Collider è arrivato l'annuncio di una nuova particella, meno famosa forse, ma non meno interessante. Si tratta di uno stato contenente due quark charm e un quark up. I quark sono i costituenti fondamentali della materia, e ne esistono sei tipi: up e down sono i più leggeri, e poi ci sono strange, charm, bottom e top, più pesanti.

In Sweden the most powerful neutron microscope in the World

Three of the main Italian research institutions, together with the Ministry for Education, University and Research, participate in one of Europe's most ambitious projects of recent years: the construction of the most powerful neutron microscope in the World: European Spallation Source (ESS). It will be built in Sweden and will be used for interdisciplinary studies, from life sciences to physics, from nanotechnology to pharmaceuticals. A collaboration between CNR,

Bugging and promoting the excellence in physics

It calls itself “a knowledge hub”, a place where people from developing countries can share and learn at the top level. It is located in Trieste, Italy. Founded by a Nobel Laureate, it is funded (almost) by a single country, but ruled by two outstanding international organizations. It has already a great fame, due its scientific excellence and its role in promoting and educating the best young scientists from all over the world. But it is also the victim of a spy story: this year the International

The first Italian to grab the Lise Meitner Prize

For the first time the prestigious Lise Meitner Prize, which is awarded every two years by the Nuclear Physics Division of the European Physics Society (EPS), has been given to an Italian researcher: Paolo Giubellino, director of research and coordinator of the INFN international ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) at CERN in Geneva. Actually, the

Juno will study chameleon neutrinos

Last week in China was launched Juno, an international experiment that aims to reveal once and for all the mysteries of neutrinos, together with two other future experiments planned worldwide, Hyper-Kamiokande in Japan and LBNF at FERMILAB, and Italy could not miss. Hundreds of scientists from around the world gathered in these days at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, in order to give birth to an international collaboration for the construction of a gigantic

Italian physics and the Middle East

On May 12, the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste and the International Centre for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) signed a scientific collaboration agreement. Aim of this cooperation is the development and implementation of Italian technology for the radio-frequency cavities for SESAME’s storage ring – radio-frequency cavities serve to re-supply the electrons with the energy they lose when emitting synchrotron light.

The rise of physics in China: INFN as privileged partner

Last December, newspapers around the World have given space on their pages to the Chinese moon landing attempt, which unfortunately failed shortly afterwards, when the rover suddenly failed. Even if the attempt ended in failure, it remains a significant symbol of how much China is investing in scientific research and technological innovation. Moreover, in 2020 China has planned to build the Chinese Space Station.

The Big Bang gravitational echo

A real earthquake has been shacking the international scientific community over the last few days.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics of Boston announced last week, with a very laconic press release, that a “major discovery” would have been presented during a press conference on Monday, March 17th. No clues, however, were given on the nature of it. This media strategy, similar to that one used by CERN for announcing the

The crystallography Manifesto. Interview with Paolo Radaelli

A century has passed since the Nobel prizes in physics in 1914 and 1915 were awarded to recognize the importance of X-ray diffraction experiments on crystals. This year, the International Year of Crystallography will commemorate this event. In such an occasion, at the end of January, Nature published a comment by Paolo Radaelli, Head of Condensed Matter Physics and Associate Head of the Department of

Carlo Rubbia: Nobel for interaction and science manager

The Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, is one of the most mindful political figures in regards to science and its values. And he is also extremely aware of the role played by science in our society. For these reasons, it was no surprise when he appointed Carlo Rubbia senator for life. Firstly, the particle physicist born in Gorizia the 31st March 1934 is the only “living” Italian Noble prize’s winner – since Renato Dulbecco and Rita Levi Montalcini (a senator for life herself) died last year. Of course, Riccardo Giacconi (the astrophysicist)

Pencils, ships and Nobel prizes

What can be simpler than a pencil? What dark secrets are hidden in the traces it leaves behind? Why should we begin to start studying graphite, which is the heart of the pencil? Why should scientists studying the physics of matter waste their time on something so common and ordinary? And yet physics is becoming increasingly interested in pencils. There are those who are using graphite and adhesive tape to try to find new material and those who are trying to understand how to use a pencil to get something that might end up in the display screen of a smart phone. Using your fingers

Memories of analog and the rise of the new

A few days ago, the occupier on the fourth floor of the facing building and the one in which I live, changed the living room light bulb. In the evening, when switching on the light, the window lights up a striking white and cold color which clashes with neighboring rooms. The old incandescent bulb was replaced with a new energy-saving light bulb, hence, its fluorescence. This is owing to the fact that the European Union has decided to progressively ban the manufacture of incandescent bulbs, which began in 2008. Developed over the late

Possible? Impossible? Better "never say never"

Never. Impossible. Words we are learning to use with extreme caution in the language of science. As time goes by we become increasingly aware that much of what is impossible today is probably due to the lack of adequate technology and not because it violates some absolute law. What is impossible today might eventually become possible or even normal in the future.

What was impossible yesterday and what is impossible today

What if the particle is not the Higgs boson?

The discovery of the Higgs boson is an extraordinary success for modern science and the technology associated with it. It confirms, in particular, the validity of scientific research in theoretical and experimental physics and is a very important step forward in our understanding of the fundamental forces and constituents of nature. It is a great achievement for humanity that some scientists, not only Higgs but also Brout and Englert may have predicted almost fifty years ago, on the basis of exquisitely theoretical considerations, the existence of this

A success for the international scientific community

The results presented today by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN are a step forward of extraordinary importance for our understanding of the Universe. The discovery of the Higgs boson is the culmination of a search that has been going on for more than four decades in order to demonstrate the validity of the theory known as Standard Model of particle physics. This theory fits in the path of a great and powerful unified framework of the fundamental forces

CMS discovers new particle

The announcement was made just a few days ago about the discovery of a never previously observed baryon, with a mass close to that of the lithium atom. Physicists Claude Amsler, Vincenzo Chiochia and Ernest Aguilò of CERN in Geneva "played" with the LHC, the same tool used for the Higgs boson search. Researchers say the discovery of the second of three baryons composed of usb quarks is important to confirm the theory that explains how quarks bind together and how the strong force, one of the four forces existing in nature, helps creating these elusive particles.

Neutrino OPERA experiments

After 3 years of data taking in the CNGS neutrino beam from CERN with the OPERA detector at LNGS, and several months of analysis and checks, a really unexpected result has come out last week: the time of flight of CNGS neutrinos detected by OPERA appears to be shorter by 20 parts per million as compared to that of light. The researchers, after a careful scrutiny of statistical and systematical errors have decided to publicize this astonishing anomaly with a series of seminars and with a paper recently appeared on the archives. The goal

Big Bang as the beginning of time: science or myth?

Was there ever really a beginning of everything? Including time? One can hardly imagine a more existential question in the spirit of each human being. Philosophies and religions have approached this issue incessantly since man left traces of his own existence. We find the same questions being asked by the Greek philosophers just as well as by the religious leaders of the Middle Ages. To the question "What was God doing before creating the world?» St.Augustine replied «The question is meaningless because God, together with the world, also created time! ».

Dark energy, physical reality or illusion?

The standard model of cosmology, as opposed to the standard model of elementary particles, does not enjoy great generality: it is based on the simplest class of solutions among the solutions of Einstein's general relativity equations, that describe gravity and link matter distribution to the geometric properties of space-time. In particular, the basic assumption is that matter is approximated to a perfectly homogeneous fluid.