London ( dalla nostra inviata Mirella Orsi) – When we talk about research, especially in Italy, it is often related to some problem or hitch, but not this time. In fact, I want to talk about an event that celebrated research and popularization of science in one of the best possible perspectives.
In Southern Italy, there is a small town called Ariano Irpino where there has been an innovative research campus called Biogem since 2006.
This campus is organised into three different areas: Genetics and translational medicine (GTM), Medicinal Investigational Research (MIR) and Mind science school (LIMSS).
This institute is outstandingly led by Prof Ortensio Zecchino as a place where the words research and knowledge are key in guiding every choice made. Just to give you some numbers, Biongem works in partnership with Italian universities and international research institutes, it takes part as the operative unit on 21 MIUR projects and it is co-patent holder of 5 inernational researching patents.I had the pleasure to learn about this place because of the 2 cultures event that took place there last week. These events want to link science with liberal art, with a different theme every year. This year’s theme was “Beauty”. Hence, experts and professors talked about beauty from every angle possible for four days: beauty of nature, in art, in science. To understand the value andimportance of beauty and how much we need it.
One of the guests was Prof Antonino Zichichi: he gave a speech about the beauty of creation. Prof Zichichi is a physic and a highly cited ISI researcher; he has served as President of the World Federation of Scientists and as a professor at the University of Bologna. He has collaborated to several important discoveries in the field of subnuclear physics and has worked in some of the most important research laboratories in the world (Fermilab in Chicago, CERN in Geneva, etc.).
He is also a great populariser of science, both as the author of numerous books and essays and because of his appearances on television programs. In this work of popularization, Zichichi, places great emphasis on trying to demonstrate that there is no contradiction between science and the Catholic faith in which he strongly believes. Just to understand how strong his contribution to science popularization is, we have to think that his H-index is 62, that is the same of Stephen Hawking.
Prof Zichichi started from some historical facts to bring all audiences on a special journey in the secrets of nature and the beauty of creation touching upon many scientific discoveries in human history. He has the ability is to explain everything in the easiest way possible and to give his audience the chance to think about nature and physics phenomena from the bottom up. Thanks to that, the audience can think that things such as antimatter are not that difficult, but are at your fingertips.
It has been a great pleasure to interview him about his ongoing work and research. We talked about the importance of networking, the exchange of knowledge and experience scientists can achieve across borders and independently from third parties. Later, he told me about his next projects and challenges such as building a particle accelerator that can be the main step to prove his theory called “Superworld”. The “Superworld” was one of the topics of his speech and of the interview as well. So let’s try to look into and explain this theory.
Initially, we need to give some basics related to this topic: for example, what is supersymmetry? What is a boson? Let’s see…
Everything in the universe is found to be made from a few basic building blocks called fundamental particles, governed by four fundamental forces: strong force, weak force, electromagnetic force, and gravitational force. These forces work over different ranges and have different strengths. Gravity is the weakest but it has an infinite range. Electromagnetic force also has infinite range, but it is many times stronger than gravity. Weak and strong forces are effective only over a very short range and dominate only at the level of subatomic particles. Strong force is the strongest of all four fundamental interactions. The Standard Model is a physics theory developed in the early 1970s and explaining how these basic building blocks of matter interact, governed by three fundamental forces. In fact, this theory includes the electromagnetic, strong and weak forces and all their carrier particles, but, gravity, the most familiar force that we face in our everyday lives, is not part of the Standard Model.
To make matters worse, we know that fitting gravity in this framework has proved to be a difficult challenge. The quantum theory used to describe the micro world, and the general theory of relativity used to describe the macro world, are difficult to fit into a single framework. Supersymmetry is a conjectured symmetry of space and time — and a unique one. An automatic consequence of having this symmetry in nature is that every type of particle has one or more superpartners, that is other types of particles that share many of the same properties, but different in a crucial way. This theory is an extension of the Standard Model and aims to fill some of its gaps. This theory relates, for example, two basic classes of elementary particles: bosons and fermions. Bosons, is a particle that follows Bose–Einstein statistics, they have an integer-valued spin, and fermions are particles characterized by Fermi–Dirac statistics, which have a half-integer spin. If a particle is a fermion, its super-partner is a boson. If a particle is a boson, its super-partner is a fermion.
“Superworld” is a term coined by the Sicilian scientist for his hypothesis related with Supersymmetry. We know our world has 3 dimensions plus one dimension for time; following this hypothesis, our reality has 43 dimensions where one is for time. However, three of these dimensions (length, width and height) expanded and created our realty. As Prof Zichichi said, superworld hypothesis would be useful to fill for example the gap between the quantum mechanics and general relativity. Evidence of this hypothesis could be found studying Neutralinos, a particle hypothesized in supersymmetry.
To sum up this event at the Biogem campus has been a celebration of the many shapes beauty has: beauty of nature, of knowledge. The greatest achievement of the conventions is to show culture at its best in a place like the South of Italy, which is too often linked with decay.
As Prof Zecchino said, they chose this topic because we need beauty, especially at this time; we need to surround ourselves with beauty. It seems to me that they definitely reached the goal, with amazing work throughout the event, they made a bridge between art and science where, all the guests were able to see how much beauty is around us. Physicist P. Kusch said, “Science shows us truth and beauty and fills each day with a fresh wonder of the exquisite order which governs our world.” This is the kind of science that science buffs dream about every night waiting for the new day to bring to us new wonders.