Thursday, September 11, 2008

Interview with Tommaso Dorigo.

Tommaso Dorigo with Nobel Prize Winner James Bjorken, 1996.

Tommaso Dorigo, Particle Physics Researcher at INFN - Universita' di Padova.
CDF (Fermilab-Illinois)
LHC (CERN - Switzerland).

PD: PeaceDrops
TD: Tommaso Dorigo

PD: First of all thanks again for the kindness you demonstrated during these last busy and intense days for your works and passions. So at the end it looks like we survived your experiment. I'm so glad about that, but can you explain me why on the web, and not only, we assisted at that really exaggerated media coverage? People scared about creation of black holes, others looking at the money you honestly get to let human kind a step ahead in evolution... i mean do you think is this the right way to inform about an experiment that you tell me it was not that scientifically interesting?
TD: I accept with pleasure to talk a little bit about this mega-media-event, on air Sept 10 and focusing on the launch of LHC accelerator at CERN in Geneve. I repeat, that was purely a mass-media event, if you consider that the proton beam already did half way in the recent past days, there was no reason to think it wouldn't finish. There was 1/million of the protons that will normally circulate in the accelerator next year, the energy produced by this experiment is equivalent at 6.7% of the energy at a level of full regime, when the beams will have the same energy of a navy air-craft carrier at a speed of 60 km/h...the protons that circulated in LHC last Wednesday generated the equivalent energy of an old fat lady riding her bike. I admit: it was a really well built and organized mass-media event. I think CERN did the right thing taking an advantage from the hystery due to this ridiculous feeling of risk of black hole creation and did good in being able to transform legal sues, placed against CERN by ignorants looking for media visibility and easy success, in advertising (for free). An advantage for science that took all the benefits of media speculations and finally, for a day became protagonist. Anywhere. We need more occasions like these to let common people really understand why we do what we do, why our studies are so important for everybody, why 10 billion dollars spent to build LHC and its detectors are easy stuff compared to the US Department of Defense that spend more that 10 times that sum of money per year. We needed more that 20 years to spend it. We must let people realize that these researches are helpful for each one of us... this is well spent money, believe, we try to let all the people involved in what we do and i think that some of the things we do should be part of the general culture of everybody. On the contrary we see everyday difficulties in communicate with the world. People is interested in what is hadron-therapy only when they are diagnosticated with a brain cancer, but i wonder...should not be better if they knew it before and pushed with local administrators to install a small accelerator in a closer hospital instead looking at them as health travelers, usually to foreign countries (who can) or more often to long endless waiting lines?
PD: Wow. Thanks again. I feel like Aladin and his desires, mmmhhh... so atoms, electrons, neutrons, elementary particles...all the things that you work with, where are they? Everywhere? In a peace of wood like in an apple? And what's a quark? How can you obtain elementary particles? And what are they?
TD: Even if you don't know you asked me an incredible quantity of things in just a few words. Let's make it simple 'cos you know, I've not that much time and you've not that much interest... in substance protons make atoms, everything is made by atoms, matter is atoms. Protons are made by quarks, and quarks cannot exist far away from protons, they are indissolubly connected with protons by a strong interaction, something that tie them like a rubber band. The harder you try to get a quark outside his proton the more energy you need, until the rubber band breaks (because at that point it becomes energetically more efficient to break than to extend). At the borders of the band, after the collapse, appear two quarks, one quark and one anti-quark each side, the two quark disappear right away (one back in the proton and the other connected with the quark we where trying to take out firstly). So what do we have in our hands at the end? We won't have a quark but a meson, something lighter than a proton and also less stable (expires in billions of a second)... we have an elementary particle. It's just important you know that quark are inside protons, to study and comprehend it is very important in a view to understand the composition of matter at its smallest levels, from these kind of informations we'll be able to see clearer how everything works and maybe we'll be able to put our (sometimes) useless existences at a higher level of knowledge. I'll explain you how do we study quarks with another very simple example. Try to imagine a proton like a garbage bag, you cannot open it to see what's inside, if you absolutely need to open it you are just allowed to launch it against another garbage bag. If you are able to crash the two bags at an enough-powerful energy you won't have just a collision between two garbage bags (that's boring and not interesting), you'll see the two bags explode and a hard collision could take place between a can from a bag and, maybe, a glass bottle from the other. Quarks that constitute protons are bottles and cans, if you're able to break protons and crash quarks each others you'll find a bag full of glass shot to a precise direction and the other full of aluminium that will run to another direction. Very very very fast. These are the particle called "jet" and our detectors are able to measure it. From this we can understand what happened long time ago, at the beginning of everything, we understand what happen to the matter and its structure under very high levels of energy in very small distances, to discover all this we need huge structures like the LHC.
PD: LHC, you are right, it's a huge project. Incredible. What is it exactly for? And is it able to generate black holes? And what are they?
TD: LHC is very important. It will let us discover what really is the mass, and maybe it will show us what exactly is the dark side of the mass that we are sure represent a smaller part in the universe. We'll also be able to understand the reasons why of the assimetry between the presence of matter and antimatter in the universe. Matter and antimatter are nothing than particles with some opposite characteristics (like electric charge), but they both respect the same physics laws. In the universe we observe a lot of matter and not that much antimatter, LHC maybe will tell us why this sort of predominance was created when everything started. Finally black or dark holes. These guys are responsible for the media event of these last days. Dark holes are matter aggregates so dense that the gravitational field they generate is able to don't let even out photons (light). Lhc will not produce dark holes, and even if it could be able to do it in a possible far future, they will evaporate in one billion of million of million of second. By the way we can sleep safe because what LHC does, it happens naturally every second, in our solar system and everywhere else among the universe. We call them cosmic rays and every day they are sent to us from the center of very far away galaxies. They could be able to produce dark holes better than our LHC, but, for now, nothing tells us that we are under any kind of risk. Definitively i hope i convinced you that particle physics can get our existence to a better level.
PD: I think you absolutely did, thank you. And thank you for your time and attention.

- This work is dedicated to the victims of 9.11 -

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