1 febbraio - 19 maggio


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

PERIOD: February 1st – May 19th, 2010

Viviana Alfuso, Martina Antinozzi (Liceo Linguistico J. Joyce, Ariccia-Roma)
Elena Sofia Bianchi, Gabriele Motta (Liceo Classico Virgilio, Roma)
Eleonora Giorgi, Francesca Raimondi (Liceo Scientifico A. Landi, Velletri-Roma)

INFN-LNF TUTORS: Catalina Curceanu, Rossana Centioni, Valentina Ferretti. With the colalboration of Gianni Di Giovanni.

The goal of the stage is to better understand, through interviews to a  group of scientists from all over the world, the "figure of researcher", too often simply considered only as a person who works into a laboratory, far from the real world. As a result, a web site has been created where the interviews are available. Students met researchers (theoreticians and experimentalists) of different ages, nationalities and experience and asked them questions about modern physics, scientists' experiences and their reasons to become a physicist, their hobbies and passions. Moreover, students 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 and about nuclear energy.

Students followed lessons on modern physics acquiring the elements useful to understand the contents of the interviews. The interviews were made either directly (video-interview) or via e-mail. The English interviews have been translated into Italian, and the Italian interviews, collected through voice recording, have been transcripted. All the interviews are published in the web site.

The structure of the interview and the questions were the result of student’s collaboration with the INFN-LNF tutors, as well as of an investigation made in the student’s family and school context. Consequently, a list of questions has been prepared to ask the scientists which were the most exciting topics and what students and adults want to know about science and scientists.

The scientists interviewed work in different theoretical and experimental research activities. It was possibile to learn about several fields: physics of LHC, particles and strings, astrophysics, nuclear physics as well as about physics and society.

As "science reporters" students had the opportunity to know the researchers and an overview of contemporary physics in the world. Concerning science and scientists they 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, although they suggest to enlarge the personal interest. Students had the opportunity to talk about different aspects of culture. Each researcher is very specialized in a particular field of  physics: there are those who study anti-matter, nuclear physics, astroparticle physics or the 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 lessons were very interesting and they permitted to clarify some doubts raised by the interviews. Whoever will read the interviews may have a better idea about the researcher and the man and the woman behind it, which might help too in the choice of university studies.

1) Please send us a short presentation of you including, if possible, a picture.
2) What are you working at now and what are your ambitions or expectations?
3) How and for what reason was your interest for physics born? Which characters have influenced this choice? What is the most beautiful memory of your life as a student?
4) Which difficulties did you have to deal with in your career? What has given you the strength to carry on? Which was the most significant event of  your career?
5) Which do you believe will be the next discovery in physics, and how this might contribute in changing our lives?
6) In your opinion, what has been the biggest discovery in physics and who has been your "reference-scientist"?
7) What characterizes research workplace and how is scientific collaboration organized?
8) Considering the crisis of inscriptions in scientific faculties, which do you retain are the reasons of the gap between young people and scientific studies and what may the world of research do in order to change this trend?
9) How can a scientist be defined and how do talent, intuition and study influence his profession?
10) How do you spend your free time?
11) In this period of economic crisis, how do you see the future of research and what do you think about the employment of nuclear energy for energetic aims?