Nicola Cabibbo and the Nobel prize

Nicola Cabibbo has been a teacher of mine at University “La Sapienza” in Rome. He taught me quantum field theory and I firstly got exposed to this beautiful construction of human mind through his wonderful lessons. I still have a vivid recollection of these lectures in the same room where Marcello Conversi explained us a lot of phenomenology ranging from blackbody radiation to Fermi theory of beta decay. Cabibbo was also my thesis advisor and he was there when I discussed it at my final “laurea” examination. So, I have a lot of reasons to regret for a missing deserved prize to him. I have read this article on Physics World and so memories flowed down. I have met him recently at Accademia dei Lincei in Rome. That was when Sergio Ferrara come there to talk about supersymmetry (see here). Cabibbo awarded Ferrara with a medal of the Accademia and it was a very nice moment.

I should say that Cabibbo’s lectures about QFT are still in my mind and I mantain memos of them on my shelves. Anyhow, Cabibbo is part of history of physics. No prize can change this or change the role he had in the development of particle physics.

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5 Responses to Nicola Cabibbo and the Nobel prize

  1. Takanis says:

    to pretend that Cabibbo gave a great contribution to the CKM matrix is ridiculous. He started knowing that three quarks existed (families were still to come) and introduced an “ad hoc” mixing with a real parameter (Cabibbo’s angle) between the d and s quarks. K & M went much further, with a 3×3 complex matrix that accomodated three families (6 quarks, of which 3 only were known in 1973) and could also explain CP violation because of the irreducible phase. The “C” to the KM matrix was added in a later phase since one of the parameters in the matrix was in fact the Cabibbo angle, but this does not mean at all that he suggested the matrix idea.

  2. mfrasca says:

    To pretend to know somehow history of physics may be of some help before to make certain claims. In 1963 people did not understand what was going on with weak interactions. These did not appear to be universal for all involved processes. Recovering universality would have helped at least to prove that these are truly fundamental interactions. This Cabibbo did and I regret that a well-known fact, recognized by Feynman himself, is today definitely lost. And it was lost already in 1973 when Kobayashi and Maskawa did not recognize Cabibbo’s work. They just did not cite him. So Arnold’s principle applies again and again in science. As a matter a fact, I did not expect a second Nobel for Yang while Mills is dead and so those that firstly proposed the idea of non-Abelian gauge theories will be not acknowledged. I think I can extend this list a lot. This does not mean that Cabibbo, Yang and Mills, and let me add also Yuval Ne’eman to this infamous club, will not be remembered forever in physics for what they did.

    Marco

  3. Ervin Goldfain says:

    Marco,

    In my view, it is indisputable that the pioneering work of Cabibbo paved the way for Kobayashi and Maskawa to develop the CKM matrix. It is an act of clear injustice not to include Cabibbo in the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics!.

    By the way Takanis, the CP phase does not EXPLAIN the symmetry violation, it a a mere parameter to DESCRIBE it.

    Ervin

  4. Ervin Goldfain says:

    Marco,

    In my view, it is indisputable that the pioneering work of Cabibbo paved the way for Kobayashi and Maskawa to develop the CKM matrix. It is an act of clear injustice not to include Cabibbo in the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics!.

    By the way Takanis, the CP phase does not EXPLAIN the symmetry violation, it is a mere parameter to DESCRIBE it.

    Ervin

  5. […] fuss last year with Nobel prize awarded to Kobayashi and Maskawa but not to Cabibbo (see my post here). So, it was a chance to hear from his voice his personal recollections about all this […]

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