2 febbraio - 20 maggio


Framework: research stage at the Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati of INFN

PERIOD: February 2nd – May 20th, 2009

Giulia Bellardini, Stefano Menicocci (Liceo Classico U. Foscolo, Albano Laziale-Roma)
Paolo Campeti, Alberto Iess (Liceo Scientifico B. Touschek, Grottaferrata-Roma)
Paolo Farroni, Chiara Prosperi (Liceo Linguistico J. Joyce, Ariccia-Roma)

INFN-LNF TUTORS: Catalina Curceanu, Rossana Centioni, Valentina Ferretti

The goal of the stage is to better understand, through interviews to a  group of scientists from all over the world, the "researcher", too often simply considered only as a person who works into a laboratory, far from the real world. As a result, we created a web site where the interviews are available.
We met researchers (theoreticians and experimentalists) of different ages, nationalities and experience and we asked them questions about modern physics, scientists' experiences and their reasons to become a physicist, their hobbies and passions. Moreover, we asked them about the future of research, which they believe might be the next discovery in physics and which, for them, were the best discoveries ever.

We followed lessons on modern physics acquiring the elements useful to understand the contents of the interviews. The interviews were made either directly or via e-mail, in Italian or English. We then translated the English interviews into Italian, and performed the  transcription in Italian of the interviews collected through voice recording.
We then created a dedicated web-page where we inserted the texts of the interviews after having acquired basic knowledge of Dreamweaver. This program allowed us to get a visual interface (in fact it is called visual editor or WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get) so we could create the web-page by simply writing the text, inserting images and hyperlinks without having to know the html language.

The structure of the interview and the questions were the result of our collaboration with the LNF-INFN tutors, as well as of  an investigation done in our family and school context. Consequently, we prepared  the list of questions to ask to the scientists based on which were the most exciting topics and what students and adults want to know about science and scientists.
The scientists we interviewed work in different theoretical and experimental research activities. It was possibile to learn about several fields: physics of LHC, multidimensions, blacks holes, particles and strings, astrophysics, nuclear physics as well as about physics and society.

As "science reporters" we have had the opportunity to know the researchers and have an overview of contemporary physics in the world.
Concerning science and scientists we have learned: the importance of scientific collaboration, to be passionate about what you want to do and be tenacious in obtaining it, the effort needed in the study, curiosity, and the importance of doing sacrifices. Researchers appear strongly passionate for their work, which may also involve the private life. We also had the opportunity to talk about different aspects of culture; we were kind of surprised when most of the physicists suggested us books concerning physics, while we hoped to get different suggestions. Each researcher is very specialized in a particular field of  physics: there are those who study anti-matter, nuclear physics or sub-nuclear one; those looking for dark matter and those  developing complex theoretical models.
Common to all it is a strong curiosity and the tendency to welcome positively the news and the unexpected.

The stage was a success: the lessons were very interesting and allowed us to clarify some doubts raised by the interviews. We hope that those who read the interviews may have a better idea of the researcher and the man and women doing it, which might help too in the choice of university studies.

1) Please, send us your short presentation and if it is possible a photo of you.
2) How and why did you decide to study physics and which is the best memory of your life as a student?
3) Which difficulties did you have to face and what was the most exciting episode of your career?
4) What are you working at presently?
5) Which do you believe will be the next discovery in physics?
6) In your opinion, which is the best discovery ever and who is your favourite scientist?
7) How important is the collaboration in scientific research, especially among researchers from different countries?
8) How can a scientist be defined and how do talent, intuition and study influence his profession?
9) What are your hobbies and passions and what book would you suggest us to read?
10) How do you see the future of research in this period of global economic crisis?