Carlo Rubbia

Carlo Rubbia

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Carlo Rubbia Knight Grand Cross
Omri was a king of Israel, successful military campaigner and first in the line of Omride kings that included Ahab, Ahaziah and Joram.He was "commander of the army" of king Elah when Zimri murdered Elah and made himself king. Instead, the troops at Gibbethon chose Omri as king, and he led them to...

 (born on 31 March 1934) is an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 particle physicist
Particle physics
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...

 and inventor who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 in 1984 with Simon van der Meer
Simon van der Meer
Simon van der Meer was a Dutch particle accelerator physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 with Carlo Rubbia for contributions to the CERN project which led to the discovery of the W and Z particles, two of the most fundamental constituents of matter.-Biography:One of four...

 for work leading to the discovery of the W and Z particles
W and Z bosons
The W and Z bosons are the elementary particles that mediate the weak interaction; their symbols are , and . The W bosons have a positive and negative electric charge of 1 elementary charge respectively and are each other's antiparticle. The Z boson is electrically neutral and its own...

 at CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...



Carlo Rubbia studied at Scuola Normale
Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
The Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, also known in Italian as Scuola Normale , is a public higher learning institution in Italy. It was founded in 1810, by Napoleonic decree, as a branch of the École Normale Supérieure of Paris...

 in Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

 and graduated doing cosmic ray
Cosmic ray
Cosmic rays are energetic charged subatomic particles, originating from outer space. They may produce secondary particles that penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and surface. The term ray is historical as cosmic rays were thought to be electromagnetic radiation...

 experiments at Pisa University in 1959. He then went to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 where he spent about one and a half years at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 performing experiments on the decay and the nuclear capture of muon
The muon |mu]] used to represent it) is an elementary particle similar to the electron, with a unitary negative electric charge and a spin of ½. Together with the electron, the tau, and the three neutrinos, it is classified as a lepton...

s. This was the first of a long series of experiments that Rubbia has performed in the field of weak interaction
Weak interaction
Weak interaction , is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, alongside the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. It is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles and initiates the process known as hydrogen fusion in stars...

s and which culminated in the Nobel Prize-winning work at CERN.

In 1960 he moved back to Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, attracted by the newly founded CERN, where he worked on experiments on the structure of weak interactions. CERN had just commissioned a new type of accelerator, the Intersecting Storage Rings, using counter-rotating beams of proton
The proton is a subatomic particle with the symbol or and a positive electric charge of 1 elementary charge. One or more protons are present in the nucleus of each atom, along with neutrons. The number of protons in each atom is its atomic number....

s colliding against each other. Rubbia and his collaborators conducted experiments there, again studying the weak force. The main results in this field were the observation of the structure in the elastic scattering process and the first observation of the charmed
Charm quark
The charm quark or c quark is the third most massive of all quarks, a type of elementary particle. Charm quarks are found in hadrons, which are subatomic particles made of quarks...

 baryons. These experiments were crucial in order to perfect the techniques needed later for the discovery of more exotic particles in a different type of particle collider.

Experimental Physics Career

In 1976, he suggested adapting CERN's Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) to collide protons and antiprotons in the same ring and the world's first antiproton factory was built. The collider started running in 1981 and, in early 1983, an international team of more than 100 physicists headed by Rubbia and known as the UA1 Collaboration, detected the intermediate vector bosons, the W and Z bosons
W and Z bosons
The W and Z bosons are the elementary particles that mediate the weak interaction; their symbols are , and . The W bosons have a positive and negative electric charge of 1 elementary charge respectively and are each other's antiparticle. The Z boson is electrically neutral and its own...

, which had become a cornerstone of modern theories of elementary particle physics long before this direct observation. They are believed to carry the weak force that causes radioactive decay
Radioactive decay
Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles . The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any physical interaction with another particle from outside the atom...

 in the atomic nucleus
Atomic nucleus
The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom. It was discovered in 1911, as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the famous 1909 Rutherford experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of Rutherford. The...

 and controls the combustion of the Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

, just as photons, massless particles of light, carry the electromagnetic force which causes most physical and biochemical reactions. It is also believed that the weak force has played a fundamental role in the nucleosynthesis
Nucleosynthesis is the process of creating new atomic nuclei from pre-existing nucleons . It is thought that the primordial nucleons themselves were formed from the quark–gluon plasma from the Big Bang as it cooled below two trillion degrees...

 of the elements, as studied in cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 and the big bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

. These particles have a mass almost 100 times greater than the proton. In 1984 Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer were awarded the Nobel Prize "for their decisive contributions to the large project, which led to the discovery of the field particles W and Z, communicators of weak interaction"

To achieve energies high enough to create these particles, Rubbia, together with David Cline and Peter McIntyre, proposed a radically new particle accelerator design. They proposed to use a beam of protons and a beam of antiproton
The antiproton is the antiparticle of the proton. Antiprotons are stable, but they are typically short-lived since any collision with a proton will cause both particles to be annihilated in a burst of energy....

s, their antimatter
In particle physics, antimatter is the extension of the concept of the antiparticle to matter, where antimatter is composed of antiparticles in the same way that normal matter is composed of particles...

 twins, counter rotating in the vacuum pipe of the accelerator and colliding head-on. As a result, scientists had to develop a number of techniques for creating and handling intense beams of antiprotons.

In addition to the observation of the intermediate vector mesons, the CERN proton-antiproton collider dominated the scene of high energy physics from its first operation in 1981 until its close in 2002, when the Tevatron
The Tevatron is a circular particle accelerator in the United States, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory , just east of Batavia, Illinois, and is the second highest energy particle collider in the world after the Large Hadron Collider...

 at Fermilab
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory , located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics...

 took over this role. An entirely new phenomenology of high energy collisions has resulted, in which strong interaction phenomena are dominated by the exchange of the quanta of the strong force, the gluon
Gluons are elementary particles which act as the exchange particles for the color force between quarks, analogous to the exchange of photons in the electromagnetic force between two charged particles....

s, particles which are similar to the intermediate vector bosons, although, like the photons, they are apparently massless. Instead, the W and Z particles are among the heaviest particles so far produced in a particle accelerator.

Together, these discoveries provide strong evidence that theoretical physicists are on the right track in their efforts to describe Nature at its most basic level through the so-called "Standard Model
Standard Model
The Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. Developed throughout the mid to late 20th century, the current formulation was finalized in the mid 1970s upon...

". The data on the intermediate vector bosons confirm the predictions included in the "electroweak" theory, which gained the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physics to Steven Weinberg
Steven Weinberg
Steven Weinberg is an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles....

, Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salam
Abdus Salam
Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk (Urdu: محمد عبد السلام, pronounced , (January 29, 1926– November 21, 1996) was a Pakistani theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his work on the electroweak unification of the...

. The "electroweak" theory attempts to unite two of the four forces of nature—the weak and the electromagnetic forces—under the same set of equations. It provides the basis for work on the long-standing dream of the theoretical physicists, a "unified field theory", encompassing also the strong force which binds together the atomic nucleus, and ultimately, gravity.

In 1970 Rubbia was appointed Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, where he spent one semester per year for 18 years, while continuing his research activities at CERN. In 1989, he was appointed Director-General of the CERN Laboratory.

Rubbia has also been one of the leaders in a collaboration effort deep in the Gran Sasso Laboratory
Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso
Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso is a particle physics laboratory of the INFN, situated near the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy, between the towns of L'Aquila and Teramo, about 120 km from Rome. In addition to a surface portion of the laboratory, there are extensive underground facilities...

, designed to detect any sign of decay of the proton. The experiment seeks evidence that would disprove the conventional belief that matter is stable. The most widely accepted version of the unified field theories predicts that protons do not last forever, but gradually decay into energy after an average lifetime of at least 1032 years. The same experiment, known as ICARUS and based on a new technique of electronic detection of ionizing events in ultra-pure liquid argon
Argon is a chemical element represented by the symbol Ar. Argon has atomic number 18 and is the third element in group 18 of the periodic table . Argon is the third most common gas in the Earth's atmosphere, at 0.93%, making it more common than carbon dioxide...

, is aiming at the direct detection of the neutrinos emitted from the Sun, a first rudimentary neutrino telescope to explore neutrino signals of cosmic nature.

Carlo Rubbia further proposed the concept of an energy amplifier
Energy amplifier
In nuclear physics, an energy amplifier is a novel type of nuclear power reactor, a subcritical reactor, in which an energetic particle beam is used to stimulate a reaction, which in turn releases enough energy to power the particle accelerator and leave an energy profit for power generation...

, a novel and safe way of producing nuclear energy exploiting present-day accelerator technologies, which is actively being studied worldwide in order to incinerate high activity waste from accelerators, and produce energy from natural thorium
Thorium is a natural radioactive chemical element with the symbol Th and atomic number 90. It was discovered in 1828 and named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder....

 and depleted uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

. The energy resources potentially deriving from these fuels will be practically unlimited and comparable to those from fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...


Current activities

Rubbia's research activities are presently concentrated on the problem of energy supply for the future, with particular focus on the development of new technologies for renewable energy sources. During his term as President of ENEA
ENEA (Italy)
The L'Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile is an Italian Government sponsored research and development agency...

 (1999–2005) he has developed a novel method for concentrating solar power at high temperatures for energy production, known as the Archimede Project
Archimede Project
Archimede solar power plant is a concentrated solar power plant at Priolo Gargallo near Syracuse in Sicily, Italy. The plant was inaugurated on 14 July 2010. It is the first concentrated solar power plant to use molten salt for heat transfer and storage which is integrated with a combined-cycle...

, which is presently being developed by industry for commercial use.

Carlo Rubbia is currently principal Scientific Adviser of CIEMAT (Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

), a member of the high-level Advisory Group on Climate Change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 set up by EU's President Barroso in 2007, and of the Board of Trustees at the IMDEA Energy Institute. Since March 2009 he is Special Adviser for Energy to the Secretary General of ECLAC, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, based in Santiago (Chile). In June 2010 Carlo Rubbia has been appointed Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam (Germany).

Asteroid 8398 Rubbia is named in his honor.

External links