These are exciting times, waiting for the big hit from LHC. Some glimpses of what is awaiting us are now discussed at the European Physical Society (EPS) Conference in Grenoble (see here) that today will close. In conjunction with the scientific program, EPS has awarded some physicists for their research achievements at this Conference (see here). Between this notable number there are this year five Italians. The most famous of them is Luciano Maiani. EPS High Energy and Particle Physics Prize for this year has gone to Sheldon Glashow, John Iliopoulos and Luciano Maiani for their discovery of the GIM mechanism. They forecast a fourth quark, the charmed one, and in this way the Standard Model was opened up to receive the quark sector into its formulation. This is a great discovery indeed and a well deserved prize. Luciano Maiani is one of the greatest Italian physicist and currently is the head of the Italian Council of Research (CNR). He has also been a director of CERN with on his shoulders the painful decision to stop LEP and start the construction of LHC. Maiani has been my professor at University of Rome “La Sapienza” and taught me the foundations of quantum and statistical mechanics. Maiani is indeed a good teacher too and his lessons were really clear and easy to follow. It would be nice if he, when will end his manager career, will start to write down some textbooks. I studied the Standard Model on his CERN yellow report and I have got the maximum grade from that examination. Currently, he his working on a question that is very near to those discussed in this blog. It is the problem of the understanding of the low-energy part of the hadronic spectrum. Together with ‘t Hooft and Antonio Davide Polosa and others, they devised a tetraquark formulation of the scalar mesons that fits experimental data rather well. As my readers know, this is a matter to settle yet and the debate is quite hot in the community.
One of the recipients of the Giuseppe and Vanna Cocconi prize is Paolo de Bernardis, one of the leaders of the BOOMERanG experiment. This experiment permitted a precise map of the cosmic radiation background drawing the conclusion that our universe is essentially flat and giving a strong support to the inflationary model. Paolo de Bernardis is a well-known astrophysicist and popularized in several occasions astronomy and cosmology. He is also the author of an Italian book “Osservare l’Universo” that divulges these themes at the foundations of his main research activities.
The Gribov medal went to Davide Gaiotto. He is currently member of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. The award is for his outstanding results on supersymmetry in connection with two-dimensional quantum field theories. Gaiotto works on string theory and his latest paper was a collaboration with Edward Witten. He was also a winner of the 1996 Italian Championship of Olympiads of Mathematics.
The Young Physicist Prize goes to Paolo Creminelli for his achievements in early universe cosmology and non-gaussianities in the cosmic microwave background and Andrea Rizzi for his contributions to the CMS experiment at CERN. Creminelli is currently working at ICTP and Rizzi works at ETH.
These awards show, if needed, that Italian physics is vital and, notwithstanding nonsensical cuts everywhere in our academic system, our schools produce outstanding people yet. We hope this will be so also for the future. Meanwhile, I take the chance to compliment with the awarded colleagues for this recognition and for their achievements in physics.